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Raw emotion: Hagan’s gritty low-end bass is a personal homage to loved ones

today15/12/2022

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You recorded the album between London and Accra right?

That’s right.

Was that a deliberate decision, or a result of coincidence?

It was definitely deliberate. In my opinion a lot of the grooves, and rhythms and patterns that you hear can only be done when you’re out there. You just feel the rawness on the tapes. I wanted to embody the Ghanaian groove in my music, but to match it up with the influences I had from UK music. What better way to do it than actually be in Ghana? And then come back to all these great musical events in the UK.

What were the most memorable moments from recording the album?

Probably my sessions with Meron T and Ayeisha Raquel. They were big learning curves for me, I had not done many sessions before with artists — so they were teaching me how to conduct a session in a way that I hadn’t done before. They were patient with me as well. They understood how this was such an important album for me, and I was learning on the job. But also talking about life in between recording takes, talking about our music, our aspirations and our goals – serious conversations that I will always remember. It was super enjoyable.

There seem to be a lot of different things in your mix and your album that make up who Hagan is as an artist and person. What’s your relationship between who you are and your music?

It’s very personal to me. I thought for people to understand the themes and topics I’m talking about [on the album], it would be good to have those little anecdotes and voice notes that you hear. For example my grandma is very important to me, you hear her on the track ‘Pray for Me’ at the end, and she’s praying on my life and my family’s life – giving us her thoughts and her prayers.

Another one from Griffit Vigo, you hear his voice at the end of ‘Welcome to Ghana’, and he’s basically telling me something that I’ve been thinking as a producer for a very long time which is “be yourself” – do not try and fit genre boxes, just produce what comes naturally to you. There was a time I was sending him ideas and he kept on telling me: “Hagan, don’t send me ideas about what sound good for me – just send me what sounds good for you.”

The last track, which is called ‘Outro (Baffour’s Son)‘ – Baffour was my dad, who unfortunately passed away last year, and the way that album ends there’s barely any rhythm – just melody and synths and it. It reminded me of how calm and forgiving my dad could be in certain situations. He always had patience.

What’s next for Hagan?

I want to try and refine the sound I’ve introduced in the album, but also bring the album to life. I want to see how I can recreate it in a live environment – try and get musicians and artists I’ve featured so we can bring the album to an audience, so we can experience the album not just through streaming platforms, but actually face-to-face.

Read this next: Listen to a playlist of gqom classics curated by Griffit Vigo

And finally, what was the idea behind the mix you’ve created for us?

This is the first mix where I’m playing tracks outside of the singles [from the album]. So it was created with the idea of introducing the album tracks as part of my regular set rotation. The mix also replicates the journey I attempt to take people on [with my music]. I’ve tried to create an intro that’s welcoming. As you listen further the mood proceeds to darken and the basslines are heavier. You also hear different versions of the album tracks such as acapellas or instrumentals.

Isaac Muk is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter

Tracklist:

Ezra Collective ‘Siesta’ (feat. Emeli Sandé)
Hagan ‘Pray For Me’ (feat Ayeisha Raquel) [No Drums Mix]
Mojvki ‘Travellers’ (feat Hagan)
ZVRI ‘Waves’ (Original Mix)
Scratchclart & Scotti Dee & DJ Polo ‘Banx Skanx’
Hagan ‘LOGAN’
Sango ‘Né’
Mr Joe ‘Air Force’
Hagan ‘Sise Ntweni’ (ft. Aymos)
Omagoqa ‘Gqom 808’
Hagan ‘Talking Drum’
Griffit Vigo ‘Activated Gqom’
Leon Vynehall ‘Sugar Slip (The Lick)’ (Hagan Remix)
Jackson Brainwave ‘Furahini (Beats)’
Funky Qla & DJ Lag ‘Lift Club’
Hagan ‘Pull Up’ (ft. Griffit Vigo)
Hagan x Sango ‘Telha Instrumental’
Hagan ‘Telha’ (ft. Luedji Luna & Sango)
Gvijin ‘Vapormax’
Bakongo ‘Koopa’
Hagan ‘Ghana Step VIP’

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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