Synth Presents...Harvey McKay
SYNTH PRESENTS: Harvey McKay
WORDS: Alex Caslano
Glasgow is a city built on house & techno. Great institutions such as Soma, Pressure and the Sub Club have cemented its place on the global dancefloor as one of the most influential destinations in dance. But it’s of course down to new talent and clued up promoters to maintain its reputation, something which it seemingly has in abundance. Checking in for his first Synth Presents mix today is one of Glasgow’s finest exports and someone who has slowly risen to become one of the most in demand men in modern techno, his name is Harvey McKay.
A regular fixture at the aforementioned Pressure, Harvey is a Glaswegian through and through, undoubtedly influenced by late nights at The Arches and unforgettable sets from the likes of Slam and Dave Clarke. With such tangible inspiration on his doorstep, it’s easy to see why taking up DJ’ing, and later producing, was an appealing prospect. Of course, it’s perhaps his peers that introduced him to techno at the age of ten that we should thank for the artist we know today. However the journey started, it’s one that has progressed year on year and is heading somewhere truly incredible.
Counting releases on Cocoon, Saved and of course, Soma, Harvey’s output has been played by the biggest and best, topping charts and devastating dancefloors. His dexterity and golden touch make his style unique, not just providing that 2am stomper, but also crafting techy rollers which add depth and purpose to his sets. This in turn has gained him the respect and attention he deserves, having played some of the most important clubs and festivals in the world. Identifying 2013 as his most prolific year to date, it’s safe to say that his journey has only just begun…
Check out some of Harvey’s recent releases below, as well as an interview in which we talk Cocoon, origins and Glasgow:
Synth: So firstly, thanks for taking the time to talk to us and of course recording your incredible mix. If we start with a little background, how did you initially get introduced to techno and when did you start producing?
Harvey: I come from the East End of Glasgow and it’s a bit wild out here, so a lot of dudes were into kicking about the streets fighting and gangs and all that stuff. That wasn’t really my thing, so I ended up hanging about with guys that were a few years older than me and they were into techno - that was about 89/90 so I was about 10 then, and very quickly I started DJ’ing. The producing itself didn’t come till a fair bit later, we’re talking 2003, but not seriously until around 2006’ish.
Synth: What we really enjoy about your sound is the fact that you can turn out both peak-time techno and something which is a little techier and has a bit of groove behind it, do you approach a track with an idea of how it will work on the dancefloor or is it a more organic process than that?
Harvey: Haha, well sometimes I will have a bash at my version of what is ‘housey’ every now and again, some just call it slower techno, but yeah, usually I have a direction I want to go in. In a sense it’s not for any label or anybody else’s agenda, just more to tie up an EP that has a certain vibe, rather than trying to stick to a game plan, if you get me. But I don’t really get into the thought process too much, I just try make music that I’m into and want to play when I DJ, not because it’s mine, but because of the effect it has on the dancefloor, that’s always a good barometer of what you’re making is the way to go.
Synth: So you’re of course a Glasgow lad and you get to play here fairly regularly at the likes of Pressure etc, are the hometown gigs still the best and how do you feel Glasgow clubbing has changed since your first forays onto the dancefloor? Or perhaps how do you feel it has changed from behind the decks?
Harvey: Yeah, I love Glasgow, they’re definitely the biggest shouters during the breakdowns and when the tracks kick in - they let you know when they’re feeling it for sure, which is great. And yeah, the more I travel the more I love the place, I think you start to appreciate what you have when you travel. Don’t get me wrong, it has its bad stuff like everywhere does, but I think the people make Glasgow, I really miss the banter when I’m away, its very specific to Glasgow.
The 'Shake EP': chart topper
Synth: We just saw that you’ve got another EP coming out on Cocoon, and you of course had a monster release with them earlier in the year, how did they originally pick up on you and what’s your relationship like with the label?
Harvey: Yeah, it’s been by far my biggest year to date, it’s been great. As for Cocoon, I just did it the way everybody else does - sent in some music to their A/R to check out and they were into it. It kind of came from nowhere that one, I sent them in my ‘First Strike From Mars' track and they took it right away and put it on their compilation. I think it was one of the best sellers of the comp and really boosted my profile. Then after that they signed up my ‘Shake EP’ and that ended up at no1 for 3 weeks so I was really pleased.
Synth: So let’s talk a little about your mix which you’ve kindly done for us. We’d imagine you get quite a lot of requests for mixes, do like to plan them meticulously or is it quite spontaneous? Any tracks you just had to include?
Harvey: I plan the mixes I do for podcasts so they have a bit of a build up. When I DJ I just tend to play what the crowd are responding to. Don’t get me wrong, I have a batch of stuff I want to play, but sometime its best to adjust your game plan to each specific situation, then everybody has a better time, including you. If the club’s rocking then I’m happier.
Synth: Finally, it’s been a fairly prolific year for you in terms of releases and touring, what have you got coming up as we head into winter? Any whispers of an album or anything like that?
Harvey: Yeah man, got some big things just ready to come out. In September I have the ‘Cinnamon Kiss EP’ on Cocoon, then the Lost EP on Drumcode (Oct 28th), then a collaboration with Carlo Lio on Bedrock called ‘Droid Decay’ - that’s coming out on November 25th I think. Then next year I have another Drumcode EP and a Soma EP - so pretty much all the biggest stuff and personally I think some of the strongest music I have ever done, so really looking forward to it all coming out!
Synth: It gives us enormous pleasure to present Harvey McKay’s mix today; it’s been something we’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Perfectly timed to reflect his most exciting year to date, this driving selection is set to have your speakers at breaking point, with a series of pounding rhythms that strike deep at heart of the dancefloor. From his own productions, ‘Kickback’ and ‘Goodbye’ to certified bangers from Richie Santana and Julian Jeweil, it’s time to take things up a gear…
1. Ryan McKay – Late Night (Unknown)
2. Harvey McKay - Kickback (Suara)
3. Ronan Portela & Ariel Rodz - Among Noise (Jonas Kopp Remix) (Unique Community)
4. Harvey McKay & Saytek - Nothing (Soma)
5. Mihai Popoviciu -Transitions (Bootleg Mix) (Unknown)
6. Julien Loreto - Aye Aye (Harvey McKay Remix) (Serkal)
7. Richie Santana - League Of Shadows (Rawthentic Music)
8. Chris Tietjen & Steve Ward - Come On Get Ya (Serkal)
9. Dense & Pika - Lack Of Light (Hotflush)
10. Julian Jeweil - Don’t think (Minus)
11. Harvey McKay & MR.BIZZ - Scopolamine (Suara)
12. Pig And Dan - Savage (Elevate)
13. Harvey McKay - Goodbye (Soma)
Harvey McKay & MR.BIZZ ‘Scopolamine’ is out next week on Suara. His ‘Goodbye EP’ is out now on Soma. Look out for forthcoming releases on Cocoon (Sep 28th) and Drumcode (Oct 28th).
Harvey McKay on Soundcloud
Harvey McKay on Facebook
Harvey McKay on Twitter