Interview – Seamus Haji

Seamus Haji is a British record producer, who has worked with artists such as Moby, Jamiroquai and Mariah Carey, in addition to managing Brighton based House label Big Love Music. M3 asked Seamus about his views on the current state of the industry…

M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Seamus – I’ve been DJ’ing since I was around 16. Got into producing in the mid 90’s and then started doing A&R for Slip’N’Slide & then Defected late 90’s before setting up my own Big Love label in 2002 and getting more serious about my productions & remixes.

What inspired you to focus on music? What is your own musical background?
Ever since my early teens I loved dance music. When I was growing up it was just when early hip hop & electro funk had come out and I was blown away by it. I got into mixing & taught myself how to scratch so I was drawn into DJ’ing through the art of mixing. I was fascinated with DJs like Grandmaster Flash & Tony Humphries. Then we had the “Rare Groove” era in London which was big in the mid 80’s. I became a vinyl junkie and started collecting old skool rap, soul, boogie, funk, disco, jazz funk..basically black dance music. Then house took off and I was naturally drawn to US House and influenced by the likes of Morales, Knuckles, Sanchez, Clivilles & Cole, Todd Terry, MAW, Kerri Chandler to name a few. The more I started to travel abroad to DJ and play in bigger rooms my tastes changed accordingly.

Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
It’s true! It’s even the case in the big league for most bands. It’s all about the touring & selling merchandise for them. Illegal downloads & the near death of vinyl have had a dramatic effect. You have to go out touring. I’m definitely travelling further afield these days to play. So far this year I’ve been touring in South America, Russia and the Middle East and I’ve further shows coming up in Asia, China & America.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
I love sound of vinyl but it’s not that practical these days. I have a big vinyl collection of around 20,000 which I’m now starting to filter out and just keep the stuff I really love. I think eventually I’ll have all my favourite stuff digitised as it’s how we listen to our music these days either on the move or at home.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
I think some artists still try to make those kind of albums but as a lot of people just download the individual tracks they want from an album these days it is completely messing with the original sequence of the album. I think people have shorter attention spans these days.

Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
It has and I think it is a tragic loss. I worked in record stores off and on for over 10 years. It was a place for people to meet up & socialise. Nowadays you could have someone sing on a track you produced and not even speak on the telephone. It could all be done on iChat. Lol! The upside to the digital age is that it makes buying music a lot easier. You don’t have to go the store and then be told that they’ve sold out of so and so record. You can just download a track in a couple of minutes at the airport or hotel before a gig. It’s made everything a lot easier but I do miss the social aspect of record stores.

What is your take on the current SOPA/ACTA controversy?
It’s interesting, now that the movie business is being affected by illegal downloads that something is happening. The music business has suffered for years. Personally I don’t download music illegally so anything to enforce stopping it I’m behind.

In a few decades time, what genre or sound do you think will come to define the 2000’s?
I think Dubstep is a strong contender. Also the hybrid of Trance & dance.

What do you personally believe the future of music distribution will look like?
Well, it’s interesting to hear rumour of David Guetta looking to sell straight to his fans via Facebook. That would really change the face of distribution!

Finally, what does the future hold for Seamus Haji?
As long as I’m still enjoying what I’m doing then I hope to continue DJ’ing, remixing, producing and running my Big Love label. In the immediate future we have the full package of mixes on my new track with Cevin Fisher “I Love The Music” dropping any day now on Strictly Rhythm. Then I have a single with EDX called “Love Express” coming soon on Big Love with remixes. Then there’s a load of remixes coming for Rita Ora feat Tiny Tempah “RIP”, Jodie Connor feat Bust Rhymes “Take You Higher” and then I’m re-working one of my old tracks “Gods Child” under my Big Bang Theory guise. Then we’ll release our 10 years of Big Love compilation this Summer. I also just produced a track for the Scissor Sister new album which I’m really excited about so I’d like to get more into producing for other acts in the future.

For more information about Seamus Haji and Big Love Music, you can visit the official website, follow both Seamus and the label on Facebook, and mail sharron@mn2s.com for booking information.

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About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.

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