Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Seamus Haji: DJ BY DESIGN

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

“The Big Love philosophy is to embrace everything, all cultures, all creeds, all sexes, all races. Black, white, straight or gay, it’s all encompassing. Its the same for our music we love House music in all its wonderful shapes & forms” 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 ‘electro house’ sound with ‘Last 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 ‘Boogie Tonight’ 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.

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

You’ve 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 ‘Last Night A DJ Saved My Life.’

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; I’m 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 DJ’s 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, that’s 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, I’ve used his remix of ‘Dark Flower’ that’s on the compilation.

There’s also EDX who’s 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, I’ll give that priority but I still go through Beatport, I go through the top 100 and I’ll buy 10 – 20 tracks per week. When I’m 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. There’s a mixing of genres, slightly techy, slightly progressive, some of its slightly trancey which is why Dead Mau5 has a broad appeal there’s a lot of influence from him and Eric Prydz under his Pryda monica.

What is the philosophy behind Big Love and you’re 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 couldn’t 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 wouldn’t just jump on the latest bandwagon, if minimal techno’s the new thing we’re 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 it’s strictly underground or are you looking for a couple of crossover tracks now and again?

It’s just underground, we’ve been fortunate for certain tracks to have more mass appeal and become really good sellers like Haji and Emanuel ‘Take me Away’ then obviously ‘Last Night A DJ Saved My Life’ which went on to be a pop record, we didn’t plan it - it just happened. There’s a slight commercial idea there but it wasn’t 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, don’t get too ambitious! Have an idea of what you want to do, have an identity, have the right artwork, have a musical direction and don’t waiver from that. For us as a record label it’s not like we’re just a label and we just live off of that. I make records, I remix and I DJ, it’s all in the same pot. It’s not a get rich quick philosophy, it’s more like a labour of love!

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

We’ve got a lot of music coming in on the label and this encompasses a lot of material on the label that’s forthcoming. We’ve 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 ‘The Pressure’ which features Beverley Knight and Bryan Chambers it’s a remake of the Sound of Blackness classic which we really love. We’ve always thought about doing a cover of it and we think it’s a really good time with what’s going on in the world at the moment. I’ve been playing it in the clubs and it’s working really well, its been fantastic, its been a breath of fresh air for people. A lot of the time they’re not really hearing a big vocal record, like a proper song peak time in a club and it really works. It’s quite a diverse compilation there’s big vocal records there’s slightly deeper techy stuff and there’s a new single we’ve signed by Ran Shani who’s a name to watch. And there’s the Freakx Brothers track called ‘Ghettoblaster,’ there’s also remixes I’ve done which you wont normally find on a compilation such as the Haji and Emanuel remix of the Ting Tings latest single ‘Shut Up And Let Me Go.’ I did a remix of Moby ‘I Love To Move In Here’ and I’ve also done a remix of Shakedown ‘At Night’ which I’ve played out in clubs exclusively.

What’s the difference between the two mixes?

I did the remix live, I didn’t 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 I’ve been playing in Ibiza. It gets a bit more techy towards the end, like the MTV mix of ‘Chime.’ It’s a good mixture, for me, it’s everything that I like about house music.

What’s your next big project?

I have just completed, with Paul Emanuel, a cover of the Sounds of Blackness classic “The Pressure”. 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 we’ve given to the production, it’s feeling really good. It’s definitely got the goosebump factor!

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