Interview: Harvey McKay

Harvey McKay is a Scottish DJ/Producer who has created a distinctive style that is synonymous with driving, soulful techno. Big releases and chart success on the likes of Drumcode, Intec, Cocoon and Filth on Acid have left no doubt about the popularity of this artists production prowess. Now with a new release “Seduction” on Filth on Acid, we sat down with him to talk about how he goes about his studio time, how his sound has evolved over the years, and which bits of his job give him the most pleasure…

Hey Harvey, how has lockdown been for you, what’s kept you motivated?

It’s been tough but I think it’s been the same for everyone. I have just focused on getting loads of music done, also trying to learn lots more about sound design and synthesis. Also keeping my fitness up and staying healthy in my mind and body.

How did you link up with Filth on Acid for the new “Seduction” EP? You’ve released before on the label no? What does the label mean to you?

I got a msg from Reinier a while ago about a remix. Then I just started bouncing tracks over. He seemed to like just about everything I sent and it just grew from there. It’s been pretty easy going and it all just came together tbh.

Did you produce an EP specifically with the label in mind, and the harder acid techno sounds they deal in?

Not really, I find that stunts creativity. I just try to get ideas going and let them grow organically. Once they’re done, I have a think about who might be into them in the pool of labels I deal with. I find then you’re making music for you, doing what you love and not for someone else’s sound. In the end the tracks feel more organic and original.

You’ve had a fine run of form in recent time with some big tunes on big labels, what’s your secret? Where do all the ideas come from?

No secret, I just get the head down, I write music that I like, not just what labels want or a sound that’s popular. I think too many people try to sound like a label they want on, then they become clones of each other. I feel that’s why a lot of music these days sound very similar, it’s not inspiring at all.

Has it been harder to produce without DJing and interacting with crowds?

No, for me producing is it’s own entity. It was harder to get motivated at the start of all this, knowing no shows would come off that bank of big releases during lockdown. However, once I got started and got into that addictive mode, I couldn’t put the music down. It just took over and I got back in the zone and I didn’t even think about that.
It’s been the most prolific period of music I have ever had tbh.

How has your sound evolved, and why? What drives that?

I have been trying to learn more about sound design recently. That’s really lead me down a different route with the depth of the sound and musicality of what I’m doing. Working with much more rich synth sounds has really improved the control and the directionality of where I can take things.

What’s the most challenging thing about producing to you? What do you struggle with?

I find it’s the fine tuning of arrangement and automation. There’s always something that needs more tweaking. No matter what I do I’m never happy with it. Sometimes I just need to put my foot down and say ‘right that’s it finished now’ or I could be there forever.

And what the most rewarding bit of it all, which bits of your job give you the most thrills?

Once I finish a track I can sit back and listen as a music lover and not the producer. It’s a great sense of achievement. I listen back to finished tracks and think of all the years and time it’s taken me to learn everything to get me to this point, it’s been a long journey. When I started there was no YouTube, no online tutorials. It was just, head down and learn yourself.

What else have you got coming up that you can tell us about?

I have an album in the works and a few other EPs in the pipeline. I am also starting a collab project soon under a different name with somone but I think we’re keeping that one a secret! I’m really excited about that one.

Where would you like to play your first DJ set post lockdown, what venue, crowd size, time slot?

I just played one! lol. It was in Jesolo, Italy, it was great fun. I miss my DJ job so much. I had an absolute blast. However, it was bitter sweet as they shut down all the clubs there just as I left. I don’t know when I will get a chance to play again sadly.

Harvey’s “Senstations” EP is out now on Filth on Acid
Grab it here!