Described by Mixmag as ‘probably the techno pages most regular contributor’, Harvey McKay has created a distinctive style with a name that is synonymous with driving, soulful techno. He has worked his way into the Drumcode stable with three top ten EPs and has gained support across the globe as one of the hottest techno producers around.
Hot from the success of his latest release – Wrong Turn on Coxy’s Intec Digital and headlining sets at festivals across the world, Harvey is now planning a South American tour of his own. A&R Simon Huxtable sat down with the affable Scotsman, to talk Techno, DJing at Sonar and his plans for the tour
Hi Harvey, thanks for finding time to chat to us at Decoded Magazine. How have you been?
Pretty good thanks, just got back from a trip to Ibiza, so in good spirits.
Lets delve into your past a little, and get a sense of the artist you’ve become. Tell us a little bit about your upbringing in Scotland.
Yea Scotland was a great place, I grew up in Glasgow and it was right at the birth of the scene I got into it 89/90ish. I was really young, but I met some guys who were that key 4/5 years older who were just getting into the rave scene, it all kind of stemmed from there really.
The scene in Glasgow was pretty strong from the start with promoters like Streetrave, and DJs like Slam and Harri & Dominic. How had things developed by the time you started being involved in the scene?
I was still really young at this point, but I had started DJing. The city was just buzzing with flyers and events for house/rave events. My room wallpaper like many others am sure was just covered in flyers!
We understand the city still has a special place in your heart and the recent closure of the iconic Arches was a big blow for Scottish clubbers. Seems this is happening all over the globe. What would say in the root cause of the closures, and how can we as a community prevent it happening in the future?
I think it’s the authorities being scared of something they don’t fully understand, therefore don’t like. Its a real shame that there’s a real lasting bad taste in the air of the anti rave establishment that stems from the era when the parties were illegal. And I think that mentality has really bled though to the next batch of politicians who just want everything to be easily managed; boring and unexciting.
The world policy on drugs that there is at the moment that could be linked to the attitude to festivals and clubs being stopped is just absolutely ludicrous. I can’t think of any other government policy that they would stick to for so many years that would only get worse and worse, and put more money in gangsters hands and build criminal empires and not realise it just doesn’t work. Its like they have the blinkers on and cant see , or don’t want to see its not working so they do all the wrong things like close clubs and put people in jail for consuming recreational drugs, its insane !!!!!
Your sound is very striking. How long has it taken to hone your skills and really dilute your experiences into the tracks we hear? Have you any plans for side projects at present?
Errrmm a long time. It just developed over time, it was a organic process that devolved track by track, and its still happening. I try not to think about it too much on a conscious level, i just go about what i do and try enjoy making music, I think that’s key.
We understand you spend a great deal of time in the studio. How do you break the work up? I guess its not all making tunes every day…
I don’t spend as much time as I used to. But that’s more to do with giving my ears a rest and not exposing them to music constantly, it’s really important to look after them I think. In the beginning, I lived in the studio, as in I was in there from when I woke up to when I went to bed. I did that for around 10 years. I think spending that time helped me holm my music to get me where I am today.
But to break it up my day it’s more chilling with my dog and going for swims and hitting the gym, just nice relaxing stuff.
Could you take us on a virtual tour of your studio?
It’s pretty simple really, I have a couple of cheeky secret weapons, but my studio is really simple. Its has got more and more stripped back as the years go on. I found the simpler it got the better the results got.
Tell us about your workflow for writing new music. Does it alter for remix/editing?
I just approach it all the same way , I have a workflow that gets results most of the time. Sometimes I can feel the creativity drying up a bit, but that’s only usually after I’ve had a right good run of it and got a good few tracks done in a row. I use Ableton, and I find the work flow on that is insane it allows me to get ideas going so quickly
So lets move on to the new track on Intec – Wrong Turn. How did you and Carl begin working together, and has it been easy to get signed to these bigger labels like Drumcode, Cocoon and Soma?
I have been a fan of Carl for a long time, I still have one his rave tapes from 1992, haha long time ago geez! As for signing music there, it was just one of the natural things just things I had an eye on the label for a while sent stuff off to them and the rest is history.
Didn’t you play recently in Sonar for Intec too? How was that?
Yea, I played their Sonar party. Crowd were great, great energy and it was packed! Was a cracking gig. Its always good to be part of these big label Sonar showcases, as they always pull in numbers and its really hard as there just so much on at the same time. It was a great event.
How do you find the bigger events to play at? I think I’m right in saying this year you’ve been at Loveland, Awakenings and Ultra in Argentina. Do you find you have to change your style to accommodate the rather more epic nature of festivals?
I feel they both have their positives and negatives. I love playing big and small events. Sometimes the big festivals are a bit unreal when you look out on the crowd and it seems endless, it’s hard to grasp how you got to the place where you have that opportunity to play in front of so many people. And then the smaller gigs there’s that intimacy you just can’t beat, so yea I love them both!
And you’re planning a full South American tour soon we hear. How’s that coming along?
Yeah looks great, it’s all coming together nicely. I absolutely loved Argentina last time at Ultra, The Drumcode stage was wicked and I was blown away by Buenos Aires as a place, it was just stunning. I can’t wait to go back and so soon too, I feel very privileged. It’s a 14 hour flight for me but it’s worth every minute of it!
Well, it’s been great to chat Harvey, we wish you the best of luck with everything.
Thanks, and thanks for having me!
You can also find Harvey McKay at this years Amsterdam Dance Event Dockyards Event
01// Martin Kleinert – Open Water
02// Paul Mac – Jack the Dam Box
03// ID -ID
04// Stephen Hinz & Ruhmhardt – Panther
05// D-Deck – Nineme
06// Spartaque – Dragonfly
07// Harvey McKay – Wrong Turn
08// Alex Bau – On Synth
09// Harvey McKay & Jay Lumen – Cypher
10// Raffaele Rizzi – Murcury
11// Harvey McKay & Saytek – Nothing
12// ID – ID
13// Adrian Hour – In Hell
14// Harvey McKay – Silk Road