Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Seamus Haji: DJ BY DESIGN

Seamus Haji
Seamus Haji Seamus Haji Seamus Haji Seamus Haji: BIG Love

âThe Big Love philosophy is to embrace everything, all cultures, all creeds, all sexes, all races. Black, white, straight or gay, itâs all encompassing. Its the same for our music we love House music in all its wonderful shapes & formsâ Seamus Haji.

Seamus Haji is a lucky guy. He has his own record label, enjoys being able to travel around the world doing international DJ dates. He is also the guy credited for pioneering the now universally acknowledged âelectro houseâ sound with âLast Night a DJ Saved My Life,' as sound that totally rejuvenated house. It was also Seamus who was behind the chart success of Booty Luv, remixing their unforgettable pop smash âBoogie Tonightâ a track so big that that no one in dance music could hide from it!. Here Seamus gives his personal insight into the world of Dance music.

How long have you been in the business for?

Well over 20 years now, I started off when I was 16 DJing at illegal warehouse parties and house parties.

Iâve been making a living from being a DJ over the last 10 years, and in the last 5 years Iâve been more professional in the studio.

Youâve always done very well as a DJ. You managed to get your profile around and played at some of the key places across the UK and Internationally. Even before âLast Night A DJ Saved My Life.â

I was lucky enough to play at clubs like Back to Basics and Hard Times, back in the days when you actually had super clubs; Iâm going back 12-14 years ago. The club scene in the UK was really strong back then. A few years after that I ended up working at Slip and Slide and then working at Defected which really helped raise my profile.

Did you play out as a Defected DJ at that time?

When I started at Defected there was only four of us in the office, and that included the receptionist! I remember when I did the first ever Defected tour back in 1999, basically I had to put it together, it was me and Simon Dunmore and a few guest DJâs that were on the label playing up and down the country, lugging the banners around with us. It was a really small operation back then, thatâs how it all started.

Who are they guys that you are paying attention to at the moment?

I get sent music through from the obvious guys like Axwell, as well as Dirty South and TV Rock. The Australian boys are really coming through at the moment. There are some other names that are coming up through like Jaris Voorn from Holland, Iâve used his remix of âDark Flowerâ thatâs on the compilation.

Thereâs also EDX whoâs doing really good stuff.

When you look for records do you still go through Beatport or do you just make decisions from recommendations and from the charts?

If someone like Axwell sends me something, Iâll give that priority but I still go through Beatport, I go through the top 100 and Iâll buy 10 â 20 tracks per week. When Iâm on there I discover all these new names, there are a lot of young kids coming up from a slightly progressive background, who are doing some interesting things with music, they are mixing up the styles. There are obvious names like Dead Mau5 who has made a big name for himself. Thereâs a mixing of genres, slightly techy, slightly progressive, some of its slightly trancey which is why Dead Mau5 has a broad appeal thereâs a lot of influence from him and Eric Prydz under his Pryda monica.

What is the philosophy behind Big Love and youâre A&Ring?

When we started the label it was literally something to release my own productions. I was making a lot of records under different monikers. Probably like Dave Lee with Z Records which is kind of an imprint for all of his productions. We got off to a flying start with a few records on the label which was great. Then it got to a point where I couldnât make all the records, and I started doing remixes for other labels, we built up a good reputation and people wanted to sign tracks to us. The thought was to put music out there that we love. We wouldnât just jump on the latest bandwagon, if minimal technoâs the new thing weâre not going to just release that and stop releasing house records with vocals on them. We just wanted to release stuff that we like and people can interpret it the way they want to interpret it.

Would you say itâs strictly underground or are you looking for a couple of crossover tracks now and again?

Itâs just underground, weâve been fortunate for certain tracks to have more mass appeal and become really good sellers like Haji and Emanuel âTake me Awayâ then obviously âLast Night A DJ Saved My Lifeâ which went on to be a pop record, we didnât plan it - it just happened. Thereâs a slight commercial idea there but it wasnât like we did it to be commercial, people just picked up on it.

What advice would you give to kids who want to be DJ/Producers and want to set up their own labels?

Keep your overheads low, donât get too ambitious! Have an idea of what you want to do, have an identity, have the right artwork, have a musical direction and donât waiver from that. For us as a record label itâs not like weâre just a label and we just live off of that. I make records, I remix and I DJ, itâs all in the same pot. Itâs not a get rich quick philosophy, itâs more like a labour of love!

Do you think this will be the first in a series?

Weâve got a lot of music coming in on the label and this encompasses a lot of material on the label thatâs forthcoming. Weâve always intended on doing Big Love compilations, we wanted to be in the position where we had our own repertoire now the profile is there, so we intend to do more of these in the future.

On the compilation what are the outstanding tracks to you and what are the exclusives on there that nobody else can get?

The big one is the new Haji and Emanuel single âThe Pressureâ which features Beverley Knight and Bryan Chambers itâs a remake of the Sound of Blackness classic which we really love. Weâve always thought about doing a cover of it and we think itâs a really good time with whatâs going on in the world at the moment. Iâve been playing it in the clubs and itâs working really well, its been fantastic, its been a breath of fresh air for people. A lot of the time theyâre not really hearing a big vocal record, like a proper song peak time in a club and it really works. Itâs quite a diverse compilation thereâs big vocal records thereâs slightly deeper techy stuff and thereâs a new single weâve signed by Ran Shani whoâs a name to watch. And thereâs the Freakx Brothers track called âGhettoblaster,â thereâs also remixes Iâve done which you wont normally find on a compilation such as the Haji and Emanuel remix of the Ting Tings latest single âShut Up And Let Me Go.â I did a remix of Moby âI Love To Move In Hereâ and Iâve also done a remix of Shakedown âAt Nightâ which Iâve played out in clubs exclusively.

Whatâs the difference between the two mixes?

I did the remix live, I didnât do it on Abelton at home. I planned what I was going to do, I just wanted to mix it live as it has more of an energy about it and it feels a bit more natural. It begins like how I would start off in a club then it builds, CD1 is mostly vocal, it has a bit of a sexual vibe when it starts off with the lyrics and then it gets more in to a party vibe then it gets a little bit tougher. The second CD is more Latin and tribal to begin with, less vocal with more of a summer feel, like how Iâve been playing in Ibiza. It gets a bit more techy towards the end, like the MTV mix of âChime.â Itâs a good mixture, for me, itâs everything that I like about house music.

Whatâs your next big project?

I have just completed, with Paul Emanuel, a cover of the Sounds of Blackness classic âThe Pressureâ. Both the Original and Frankie Knuckles mixes are so revered that it could be pure folly, but that said, with Beverley Knight and Bryan Chambers giving cracking vocals plus the edge weâve given to the production, itâs feeling really good. Itâs definitely got the goosebump factor!
Words TONI TAMBOURINE

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