Harry McCanna Interview: Under the MEOKO Microscope

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Under the MEOKO Microscope is a feature series on MEOKO where we bring you new and emerging talents that are breaking through.

We caught up with Undersound resident Harry McCanna this week. If you are not too familiar with his productions, mixes or live sets then you have three reasons to read this interview and check out his 'Soundcloud' page. Harry's productions exemplify rhythmic precision and standalone outside the confinements of pigeon-holed styles. Preferring to generate original quality rather than regurgitated quantity he releases rarely but always with clinical class. He can be found regularly toying with the ears of the Undersound audience. A humble, placid guy that speaks volumes through wax.

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Picture by Daddy's Got Sweet

 

So you have a residency at  'Undersound', how did that come about?

Well I met Kimbo and Giovanni who run Undersound quite a while before the party started. We were often at the same nights around London and just got chatting, mainly about music. Just before christmas 2011 Kimbo told me that they were going to start a party and their plans for the first Undersound. I can remember thinking to myself "I wish I was playing". Luckily enough, a few weeks later they asked me to play at the afters, and after that they asked me to stay on as a resident.

Is there a sound or style you like to play at under sound that you wouldn't normally play or get to play at other parties?

I often find that at Undersound I push myself more. We have a crowd that is very open to new ideas, so it's the place that I can experiment the most. At the same time I want to make sure i'm really giving my best. Kimbo and Giovanni both have a really great knowledge of music, so that keeps me on my toes. I try to make sure i'm bringing different ideas each time, but still keeping in a style that I feel comfortable playing in.

I caught your set at 'Keep On Going' a couple of months back and was captivated throughout, especially by some of the unreleased productions you were playing that I later found out were your own, what kind of set-up do you produce with? With regards to the software you use and any analog or digital synths or drum machines that you like to play with?

Thank you, i'm glad you enjoyed the set. In regards to my set up I work on 'Logic Pro 9', with a 'Presonus 44VSL' and a pair of 'Yamaha HS7's. I have a couple of drum machines 'Korg ER-1' and 'Vermona DRM1 MKIII'. I also use a little 'Mooer Reecho' guitar delay pedal for adding a more live element to some tracks.

 

Is there anything or anyone that specifically inspires your production style?

In the time i've been DJing and producing i've gone through quite a few different styles and sounds. There's different elements in each one that I've loved and I try to apply these in my own way, to better myself.

From 2008-2010 I was listening to a lot of the UK steppy stuff that was coming out, that got me really excited. I can remember hearing the music 'Hessle Audio' was putting out for the first time and thinking "what is this"? but in a good way. The whole UK scene that has come from Garage, and Garage itself continues to influence me now. It's that rhythm, really works for me.

At the same time labels like 'Perlon' and '[a:rpia:r]' really strike a chord with me too, and of course I can always take influence from Herbert or Villalobos. There's a whole wave of labels and artists working at the moment that really inspire me too. I feel because it's happening now, I can see what is possible and that pushes me to work harder on my own tracks.

Finally, one of the main things that I don't think I'll ever stop taking influence from is the scene in London. There's such a great selection of different parties and music every weekend, and the extended group of people you meet across this scene are really inspiring. You can share ideas and hear different views every time you go out, from people of all different cultures and backgrounds.

In the past year you have recorded mixes for 'nightclubber.ro's Unknown 500' series as well as 'Project London', 'Ibiza Global Radio' and now 'YAY Italy', what do you aim to express when constructing a recorded mix?

I find recording mixes at home a real struggle. It often takes me ages to even get an idea together, and then even longer to get a recording I'm happy with! Each time I try to go through a variety of styles, not really settling on one sound for too long. The main thing for me is that it flows well, even if there are some quick changes in style I try to keep the energy consistent.

 

When listening to other mixes which mix series or DJs do you find most interesting?

There are so many mix and podcast series now, I find it quite hard to keep up! I probably don't listen to as many as I should really. When I do, I tend to listen to mixes from friends and people I know - Sam Bellis, Joe Williams, Antony Difrancesco, the Odd boys etc. there's so many great djs in London. I always enjoy mixes from Francesco Del Garda, Alexandra and Mattia Lapucci as well.

 You have a track coming out called 'Clearer Skies' which is a personal favourite of mine, which label is this due out on? And do you have other releases coming out soon, if so when and on which label?

At the moment there aren't any real plans to get this out. We have the Undersound net label 'UndersoundLAB' and I think it could work on there, but there's nothing concrete as of yet. My track 'Ordeal' will be out soon on the next 'Delooped' release. It's a double pack VA with some really nice tracks on, i'm really happy to be working with these guys. There's a couple more possible releases soon, maybe a full EP or two, but i'm not saying anything yet.

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I see your playing in Pescara, Italy later this month sounds like a great opportunity, what party is that for?

Yeah i'm really looking forward to Pescara, i've not been there before but it looks like there's a great scene there. I'm playing at a new party called 'Kulture', it will be their third one. The first was with Isherwood and Francesco Del Garda and the second one is this week with Riccardo Buccirossi and Domenico Rosa from Imprints Records. I'm playing with a really good DJ called Niff, I've met a couple of times through the Undersound boys and he's a lovely guy, it's going to be a lot of fun.

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I will be very surprised if you are not playing in Europe a lot next year. Which venues would be your top 3 to play? And why?

Thank you, that would be nice. My top three would be Robert Johnson, Panorama Bar and Guesthouse. I've been to both Robert Johnson and Panorama a few times each and both have such good atmospheres. Listening to music in Robert Johnson was like listening to music at a friends house, it felt really familiar, comfortable almost. Panorama Bar I think is the holy grail for many dis across Europe. You have a fantastic crowd to play to, a big system and what looks like a nice booth to dance around in. I've never actually visited Guesthouse, but it seems like there's a constant after party going on there, and I like that.

Last of all, if you could only ever listen to one piece of music again, what would it be and why?

Ah man, this is the ultimate question, I think about it quite a lot actually. There's so much amazing music, it's almost impossible to choose. Probably something by Radiohead There There or Weird Fishes maybe, but don't hold me to that.

 

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