Scientific Funk

Scientific Funk aka James Harrison is rapidly emerging as one of the hottest underground producers and DJs in the UK – DJ Mag tweeted that he is a 'rising star'. His music receives regular plays by the likes of Carl Cox, Umek, Richie Hawtin, Jon Dasilva, Terry Francis, wAFF, Jey Kurmis and Colin Dale. Richie Hawtin played “South Coast Dubs “ no less than three times! His previous four releases have all featured in the top 30 or above, including 2 top 10s, and most recently a no1 and no7 off his '1988' ep on Traxsource. He finished off 2015 in the Top 100 Techno artists on Traxsource.

Since returning to the scene 5 years ago James has climbed the label ladder with Wiggle, Cubism, Bulletdodge Claire Ripley’s Phobic imprint all under his belt. His remix of KoreVex was been licensed to Beatport's Baseware ADE 2014 album as well as Eddie Richards Ibiza 2014 album. 2015 is poised to be his biggest year yet!

As a DJ James likes to take in the spectrum on underground house and techno music. His preferred sets are a smooth journey from deep house, tech-house and in to techno, but he's equally adept at staying within a single genre. He builds an infectious groove around percussive rhythms and bass line influenced tracks interspersed with vocals and more melodic and acidic elements - a Scientific Funk set constantly evolves. This talent has come from being involved within the scene since the late 80s – ‘It’s all house or techno to me,” says the genre defying DJ Producer. His behind the deck talents have taken him across Europe with regular bookings in Croatia and Spain.

James major break on his return came in 2013 with his 'Crotchless Onesie ep' on Terry Francis and Nathan Coles' legendary Wiggle label. However, the story doesn't begin there. James is a veteran underground house DJ and producer, recently described by Defected's Wez Saunders as a 'seasoned pro'. James has been involved in the music scene since the late 80s. He's an award winning DJ from Mixmag; ran an underground record shop in his home town of Portsmouth before moving to London and immersing himself in the South London tech-house scene that centred around the infamous Swag Records and nights like Wiggle and Subterrain.

His first release came on Leftfield's underground label Offshoot back in 2000. He then set up Scientific Funk Recordings, which found favour with the likes of Mr C and Murf at their Subterrain night at The End along with Laurent Garnier, Jamie Anderson and Dan Curtain. Remixes then appeared on Billy Nasty's Electrix label and Surreal recordings before James disappeared off the map. 11 years past and he suddenly popped up on Nathan Coles' Is This? Label last year, as Cactus Jack (himself and Pointblank FM's Richie Collins). Two tracks from this ep became the label's biggest sellers of the past 12 months on Beatport thanks to support from Terry Francis and Maceo Plex. This release led to his much acclaimed "Crotchless Onesie ep" on the iconic Wiggle label,which catapulted him in to many record boxes and a string of remix requests. “This Sound”, from that ep, appeared in Wiggle's top 10 sellers on Beatport!

Labels signed to: Wiggle, Cubism, Phobic, Baseware, Bullet Dodge, Is This?, Something Different Again, Endemic Digital, Sounds of Juan, Household Digital, Family Grooves.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Hi James, pleased to have you with us! How are you, where are you at the moment?

Sat in my studio/man cave in Portsmouth, England.

Would you share with us how everything started with you?

Hmmm, now that was a long time ago. I grew up in a musical house. My dad played the piano and had a wide taste in music from classical to disco. I was always drawn to the electronic sounding music he played. Jean Michel Jarre and Sky spring to mind. I preferred synth bands to guitar based ones, too.
Being a teenager in the 1980s with the rise of Hip Hop, I was into Public Enemy, KRS-1, EMPD, Eric B and Rakim and then Beastie Boys. At the time Radio 1 in the UK had two really good shows that played urban music - Jeff Young's Big Beat Show which played anything from soul, rap, disco, electro and very early house music. This show was the precurser to Pete Tong's Essential Selection. Also, on radio was the legendary John Peel. Now, you had to listen to loads of weird music from around the World just to hear a few gems, but it was worth it.
My first taste of acid house was via a friend at school who had the Acid Tracks compilation albums featuring the likes of DJ Pierre and Armando. I'd been hearing these sorts of tracks on the radio but now I was tying it all together. I'd discovered 'House Music'.
By 17, so that would be 1989/90, I owned a set of Technics and was spending all my money on vinyl. We had a very good record store in Portsmouth called Domino Records and they had loads of early house and techno from Europe and the US.

Was there anyone that you were influenced by?

We had some very good parties in the early days in Portsmouth with the likes of Fabio and Grooverider, Colin Dale and Carl Cox playing. There were some very good local DJs, too and Luke Slater ran a record shop in the town too. These were my early influences as I was playing techno and breakbeat by artists such as Joey Beltram, Lenny Dee, Luke Slaterm and Kevin Saunderson.

What do you think of the current underground scene? Do you think it’s developing?

It's hard to say. House music as a whole is bigger than ever but there seems to be so few big underground nights. Everyone is booking the same few DJs and playing the same music everywhere. The 'underground' is restricted to small gatherings really. But then you look at all the music being produced and there's a lot of underground music out there. The problem is getting those people to a club or providing a night that is convenient for them to go to.

What would you say to anyone who would like to become a Dj?

Ehhhhh don’t - there's already too many.

What does it take to be successful in this field? Do you think you have found the right formula?

HA HA I've far from found the perfect formula. When I started DJing in the late 80s, you made a name for yourself by playing different music and playing it well. Promoters didn’t want a whole night of the same music. You had nights covering different genres of house and techno. Now, promoters are very scared to do anything different so you get a line up of djs all playing very similar music all night long. A successful DJ these days has to be a social media guru, have a group of friends they can sell tickets to each week and play the beatport top 100 and do all that for free OR just have a track on Hot Creations.

Where do u get your inspiration for producing from? Do you always work alone on a track?

I've had some bad experiences with colaborating so I don’t do it anymore. Inspiration can come from anywhere - a night out, a track in a podcast, a new synth or stubbling on a cool vocal sample.

You run your own label, is it very time consuming and who is also behind this project?

The time consuming bit is making the music. It can take me 2-3 weeks to complete a track. I sacrifice having income to do it. I only 'work' two days a week to keep me fed and in disco tokens. The rest of the time is in the studio or working social media. I have a manager who handles the promotion and distribution side of the label.

What do you do in your spare time?

My partner has a 5yo daughter. That has been a big change in my life - slowly becoming a dad. She takes up some spare time. It's a nice break actually. I also go carp fishing when I can and the gym - although my gut would say otherwise.

Tell us about Rotation. How was the idea born? Who is behind this?

It's so hard getting DJ bookings that I decided to take the situation in to my own hands. I approached a few likeminded DJs and Producers to see if they wanted to form a sort of 'collective' whereby we shared the costs and rotated the sets between ourselves. We've had a really good response to the first few parties and we're currently looking for a new venue as the licensing at our previous one was too restrictive with closing times.

Do you have a favourite Dj? How about a producer, someone whose style matches your concept for a good dance track?

I like DJs that can play a range of house and techno in a set. It's becoming rare and rarer to hear people who really can take you on a journey. One that always springs to mind is Terry Francis. Cant go wrong with a bit of Tel. I'm more likely to flick through djs mixes as I know they'll have some good tracks and then put them in my own mixes ha ha. I actually listen to more friends’ mixes than famous people.
On the production side I seem to own more Mihai Popoviciu tracks than anyone else, but then I don’t make that sort of track really. I don’t tend to buy tracks because of artists. I listen in a more random way and buy what I like. I still have that instinct to search and buy different music to others around me. My sets will include vocals, acid, light and dark tracks, progressive and techno. I have a short attention span so if I can keep myself interested then the dancefloor should follow.

What do enjoy more, playing music or producing tracks? Do you think these two things should go together?

I don’t think you have to do both, but it certainly helps. Being able to see what works on a dancefloor and transfer that to your studio productions has got to be a good thing. I enjoy playing music much more than making it. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with making music. It can be very frustrating at times when you cant get a track finished or sounding like you want it to. It's a lot of listening to the same track going round and round, waiting for a fault or new idea to jump out at you.

What party will you never forget?

Back in 1995 I think it was, my best mate and I decided to put a night on in Portsmouth called Essence Of Life. The venue held around 400 people. We booked John 'OO' Flemming as the guest. Back then he played more heavy Dutch house and progressive as opposed to his more signature hard house and trance. On the day of the event there were two other major brands doing parties as well and we'd sold about 60 tickets. Needless to say we were expecting a massive failure and a big bill - the event had cost us around £2000. Anyway, the event kicked off and a few mates arrived early to show their support. Then it got to about 10.30; I was playing, and my mate came running in all excited shouting about the massive queue outside!! By 11.30 the place was almost full and it really went off. I also played the last hour and I don’t think a single person left till the bouncers kicked everyone out. Even better, we broke even ha ha.

What is your opinion about the scene in the UK?

Numbers wise it is thriving, but I feel musically it's not so great. Like I mentioned earlier there's a lot of similar nights with the same few DJs and too many large events using free djs that can sell tickets rather than booking and paying them for their talent and time. That isn't healthy for the scene. That said, I see a lot of smaller nights playing very good music. I think the underground scene is slowly returning.

Scientific Funk - how did you choose this name? I think it's great!

More a moment of madness than one of inspiration I think. It was actually the name of my label back in 2000. It sums up my sort of music; 'Scientific' because of the electronic equipment and 'Funk' because I hope people hear the soul and passion in what I do.

What are your plans for the future?

To crack on with regular releases for Dark Rhythms and also to support Something Different Again and Cubism with eps this year. They've both helped raise my profile and I want to stick with them. I have more gigs this year too, which is great and also a new radio show on S-dance 96.1fm across London.

Thank you for being our special guest! Looking forward to hearing from you very soon!