A key member in the FEEL MY BICEP family, Hammer has been behind some of the biggest hits to come from the label. A residency at the iconic Sub Club and a recent release on Optimo’s label, are only a handful of things that make him stand out. Our editor Jordan Kinlan recently caught up with him for a chat and to see how his year has been.
Hammer: I’ve had some amazing gigs but I think the main highlight for me was releasing my first solo EP on Optimo Music, pretty much a dream come true for me, as cheesy as that sounds.
Jordan: Hammer had one of the stand out Boiler Rooms of the year for me and I had to know more. Did he plan the set or just wing it?
H: Originally I was going to play it by ear, which is how I approach every set I do. But after talking to a few folk, and knowing that I only had 45 minutes with a rowdy Belfast crowd, I decided to go for it. I basically knew every track I was going to play, with a few options here and there. I actually felt like I held out from going in hard and heavy, and I’m very glad I did.
J: Having played a huge part in the FEEL MY BICEP movement, I was intrigued to find out what his relationship was with the lads.
H: I knew Andy from when I was about 5 years old, and then Matt joined my school when we were 7, and we have been best mates since. I’ve just moved to London and I have a studio in the same building as them, so it’s pretty amazing change for me to be in work environment with my mates. Glasgow was a non stop party scene for me, and my studio was in my bedroom, so it got very tedious especially after the weekly four day sessions, London is lot more structured.
J: A question on my mind for a long time, where did the name Hammer come from?
H: Haha, it was a bit of joke nickname in school, I was the captain of our rugby team, which was basically a pro side, yet I didn’t really fit the script. But my close school friends still call me Hammer and after months of humming and hawing over a name, Hammer seemed like a good fit, as ridiculous as it is.
J: A lot of his music sounded like it was crafted around 90s disco and house to me, I wondered did the era influence him at all?
H: Discovering disco was the time when I finally realised what I actually liked, before that i was going through phase after phase. When I started to learn about disco it informed my taste in house and techno. 90s house less so, I like quality stuff from then but it wouldn’t be my go to!
J: Glasgow’s Sub Club is such an iconic venue, how did his residency come about?
H: This came about through running Thunder Disco. We got offered a Sunday slot, and through that my life changed dramatically. I became good friends with the owners, particularly Barry, and we became a part of the furniture there.. from both running nights, and going every other night, at stage I was going four times a week throughout the whole summer. Hence needing to escape to London.
J: I heard so many unreleased tracks in his Boiler Room, some that I would love to get my hands on. I had to find out if they would ever be released.
H: Yes I just finished the premasters for a coupe of them, which I am beyond excited about. Man Ray is coming out mid February on Loft Records, I couldn’t be happier with EP, the B side is easily my favourite stuff I’ve ever done.
J: ‘Dahlia’ was one of the biggest tracks of last year. Did Bicep and himself ever think it would see the success it did?
H: No not at all. It was actually about the ninth version of a track we had been doing. The first version was a weird pan drum thing, and it gradually changed in a piano driven track. But we never thought it would get the response it did.
J: With the new release on Optimo’s label, I had to find out how it all came about.
H: I made a bunch of tracks, and had sent a few to Keith from Optimo. I was surprised that he loved At Once and Stripes, he emailed me saying he had been playing them every set and he would love to put them out. I was genuinely overwhelmed
J: As someone who interested in making music, this was a great opportunity for me to ask a talented producer, what approach he takes in the studio.
H: I don’t use any VSTs, mainly because I’m not savvy enough to make them sound good, or get good enough VSTs. I have a few synths and a couple of drum machines and for me, recording analog or digital synths though my Tascam mixer is unbeatable sound wise.
J: A massive 2016 is sure to be followed by an even bigger 2017. Lastly, what has the new year got in store for Hammer?
H: Been smashing studio all year and i’ve got lots of EPs and remixes due out next year including an EP on Loft records, one for DABJ, a remix for Tim Sweeney and Lauer and a few more i can’t disclose. Also really excited about lots of gigs coming up.