A chat with fabric resident Harry McCanna ahead of Sumdayz Festival

Harry McCanna

Tell us about your history in electronic music. What was the catalyst for your obsession with dance music?

I couldn’t tell you a specific first memory, maybe playing pots and pans on my Nana’s kitchen floor. I had wanted to play drums for as long as I could remember so at 12 my mum got me a kit and I was off. I played in a variety of bands in the following years, and at 16 I joined a band with some friends that were all 5 years older than me and already going out to clubs. This coincided with me and my group of friends all getting into electronic music, a lot of this was through blogs and bands like LCD Soundsystem, Soulwax and Hot Chip. Then I was introduced to some guys that were playing records and really into that same sound I was discovering. Eventually they sold me their decks and about 100 records of all different stuff and I was just mixing fairly obsessively at home. Unfortunately that meant I had to sell the drums to make space at home but I’m hoping to get a kit again one day.

How did the Northsouth collective come about? How long have you guys been playing together? What fuels the alchemy when the three of you are in the booth?

Me and Dale met at early Undersound days, around 2012 and we got on straight away. Then a few years down the line Sam was working at half baked after he finished uni and we recruited him for the party team. We all loved the same tunes so its always been a pretty easy friendship we have. The actual idea for the label came around at the end of 2015, when we were all having a mix round Dale’s and he asked my plans for the upcoming year. I said I  wanted to start a label but wasn’t too sure how to go about it and it was suggested we try starting something all together. It took around a year of mulling ideas over and getting the music together before things got going properly. In terms of fuel for the booth I’d say it’s wide ranging music taste and just enjoyment of showing each other music. We all enjoy a good dance and party and don’t take ourselves overly seriously which always helps too.

How did your Fabric residency come about? How does it feel to be a resident in one of the world’s most renowned dance music institutions? Would you say the RM 1 booth is incomparable with other venues?

The residency came from the lovely Judy Griffith who has been booking at the club for many years. I was introduced to her early on in my days of playing in London by my good friend Antony Difrancesco who actually was the first person to ever book me in London. After that me and Judy would regularly bump into each other at parties and gigs I was playing. The actual residency came about as we came out of lockdown, me and Judy  were talking about rearranging some dates that I’d lost due to covid and I told  her she could have all my time. The day after she called back and asked if I’d like to join as resident. It was a crazy feeling and still is. Fabric was the first club I visited at the beginning of everything and I feel extremely lucky to be involved there. And yes, I’m yet to experience another booth like room 1, it’s like your own personal club, aimed at getting the best from the dj. You can get lost in your set in the best way and I think the crowd can really feel this too.

What have been your highlights of 2023 so far? Describe your year in 3 records?

Highlights of the year so far have been getting the chance to curate my own line ups in fabric’s room 2. The first was in January with Eli Verviene and Ika and Usherenko and then I have another coming up with Sergio Moreira live and Gwenan. Apart from them, the trips I’ve taken to the US and Central America have both been unbelievable. The jigit party in NYC in may has been one of the best parties I’ve been involved in and Sunjam in Honduras was also an amazing experience. Summing up the year in 3 records is going to be tricky though as there have already been so many good ones.

And what are you most looking forward to throughout the rest of the year?

As I’ve mentioned the next curation of room 2 is on upcoming so I’m very excited for that. My first ADE in October is looking to be a special one too!

You’re playing Sumdayz Festival in Rome in September. How much are you looking forward to that one?

Very much looking forward to this, there’s some great programming throughout and it looks like lots of friends are around so I think we’re all going to have some fun there. I can’t wait!

The lineup features some of the minimal scenes finest artists over the last decade or so. Who were you biggest inspirations when you started out DJ’ing?

When I started DJing the first dj I ever really admired was Erol Alkan. The whole idea of DJing and the club scene was really fresh to me, but I clearly remember watching him at the first field day and think “wow this is it for me now”. Then I was shown Ricardo Villalobos not long after that and he’s continued to be a huge inspiration throughout all the years.

What’s your view on the music scene in London at the moment? Would you say it’s back in full swing and better than ever?

100%. It’s had it’s ups and downs across the years but we really are in a good patch at the moment. There’s not many cities in the world that have consistently good music week in and week out like we do and we are usually spoilt for choice. Not only this but there’s so many amazing collectives covering a huge variety of sounds within the scene, I find this really inspiring to be around. It’s also been great to see new record shops open and the smaller venues do well. These are really the backbone of the scene and really help younger DJs and promoters get started with things.

Aside from Fabric, what other venues have a special place in your heart?

It’s got to be the Lion and Lamb, the place is an absolute gem and continues to get better. The sound has been spot on recently and since they’ve gone back to the rane mixer it’s become even nicer to play there. Obviously I’m a bit biased as we’ve been running our NorthSouth parties there since we started, but it’s hard not to love it there, you can’t beat a good pub, especially when it’s got a club in it. Further afield I’d have to say h0l0 in New York, this is where the jigit party was in may and playing there was unbelievable, they also have a great restaurant upstairs - Pan, and lovely crew of people involved there.

What do you like to do to relax outside of the studio and booth?

I’ve been trying to take time to relax more and more in the week, since gigs have picked up. I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for the last 3 years or so and that really helps. Big fan of photography and cooking too, but I’m more of an enthusiastic amateur in both of these departments.

What artists / music do you listen to outside of the dance spectrum?

Ohh there’s so much, it really depends on the day and mood. Some of my favourites are Jon Hassell, MF Doom, Bill Withers, Radiohead and I’m still a big LCD Soundsystem fan. But those are just off the top off my head.

What artists have you got your eye on at the moment? Who should we be clocking?

Again there’s so much great music around all the time. Picasso and Duowe boys are killing it with their new releases, and Croft from Birmingham has been making some serious bombs. Bandcamp is a great tool for digging through older artists back catalogues too. I had fun rummaging through Jay Tripwires collection on there recently.

What’s the Northsouth label schedule looking like? Any releases dropping soon we should be excited about?

Yeah we have the next two mastered and have already been playing them for a bit. 011 will be from myself and then 012 from Picasso, really happy with both of these and they’ve been going down well on the dancefloor so we’re very excited to finally get them out.

Finally, what record doesn’t leave your bag?

One that’s been consistently doing the bits for a while is the Bicen vs. Housatonic - Dubnologik EP on waz, there’s a couple on there that always work.

You can catch Harry at Sumdayz Festival in Rome in September 22nd-24th. Buy tickets for the event here

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