After a brief time away from releasing music, producer Hagan is back with a brand new EP and a sound that has matured and grown in the intervening year. Roots, which is out on Sept. 1 via Push & Run, is the first EP to be heard from Hagan since his return and it wears its renewed vigour and expanded palette on its sleeve. Take a listen to EP highlight "FWD" below and you'll hear that in addition to the UK funky and various strands of bass music, Hagan's incorporated several shades of afrobeat as well as the South African sound of gqom. Hagan's sound has come along away in the intervening year and, as he explains to Complex, the Roots EP is just the beginning of his plans to create truly global music.
You've been away for a little while. What have you been up to in that period?
I've spent the year essentially thinking about where I want my sound to go and coming up with a structured plan on how I'm going to execute that. So that involved a lot of listening to what's out at the moment, seeing how my music has changed from when I first started making music and thinking of ways to bring that all together to produce a renewed sound. Also, I've come up with many ideas that I didn't think demonstrated this strongly enough, however I think this Roots EP has been able to show where my head is at. I've been listening to producers and seeing how they've added their print onto genres and made it their own. That's what I've tried to experiment with and try to emulate. You can hear it in producers like Juls, GA, Team Salut and Lil Silva, to name a few.
Your sound has evolved a lot over the years; how would you describe your sound in 2017?
I listen to so many different underground styles right now that I'd say the Hagan sound is becoming a fusion of global sounds, but I still try and keep that originality of tribal and percussive elements embedded. It's hard to put things into genres these days, however this year I've tried to listen to quite a bit of Baile, a lot of African music and music similar to UK funky. So I've tried to find interesting ways to bring these grooves all together, and the Roots EP is the first project to show this. I've also been listening to a lot of Afrowave music, due to the producer friends I have around me.
There's a strong influence of gqom (among other things) in the EP. How did you first get into gqom? Was there a particular track/mix/club night that introduced you?
I was introduced to gqom by Nan Kole. He was telling me about his new project he was about to start up, which now is known as Gqom Oh!. He gave me demo tracks from Citizen Boy which included his remix of Adele's "Hometown Glory". As soon as I heard it, I knew this is a sound I could relate to. Everything from the snares, to the drum patterns and the dark tone it carries is what I've been looking to try and draw out in my music.
Where do you see club music and electronic music going in the next few years?
From what I hear around me, I can hear more of the African and Caribbean influence in tracks. It's good to hear how these cultures are being infused with UK sounds and I can see that really picking up to be a strong global sound. You can already hear producers like Major Lazer incorporating those sounds in tracks, so we'll definitely be hearing that sound becoming dominant in club settings. What I'd like to see is the whole Afro-inspired sound coming together. So genres like Afrobeats, Afrowave, Afro-House, gqcom, UK funky etc. I believe something that showcases all of these genres will really highlight the strength contemporary African and Caribbean music has. In fact, I might need to make this happen!
What do the next few years hold for you? What have you got planned?
Long term, the aim is to start solidifying my position as a producer. This means frequent releases, working with artists as well as producers from around the world, and experimenting with styles that are not just 120-130bpm. I have a lot of unreleased projects that sound completely different from what I have out now, so I'm excited about how I plan to get those out. I'm going to start picking up learning drums and bass again as well. Trying to balance full-time work, music and other things kinda took me away from this, and I can feel the absence of this in my music already. But you'll be hearing a lot more from me, from now on.