With three Ibiza residencies, a string of releases lined up and an Inaya Day collab already under his belt, this UK house producer has big plans… and we've got the premiere of his new single 'Higher'
There's just a chance you might not be familiar with Henry Hacking yet, but that's likely to change before the year's out. Recent singles Roller and his reworking of Inaya Day's classic Nasty Girl have put his name on the house map, and that's where he's determined to stay as he embarks on what could be his busiest summer ever.
Not that Hacking is any wet-behind-the-ears newcomer. He first emerged as one-half of 00s funky house duo The BeatThiefs, who chalked up a string of releases working with some of the most in-demand vocalists of the day (Abigail Bailey, Peyton and Full Intention collaborator Shena) before going their separate ways around the turn of the decade.
After that, he concentrated on his DJing for a few years, finding himself something of a favourite on the far eastern circuit, topping the bill at the mighty Zouk in Singapore and Bali's Sky Garden, and playing regularly in places like Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Pattaya, Hong Kong, Phuket, Hanoi, Bali and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). He then returned to production in 2016, intially with a poppier, more EDM/electrohouse-oriented sound.
Since 2017's I'm A G, though, he's been back in house territory which, just like the map, is where he plans to stay. So, time for a chat… but before that, take a listen to new single Higher, here for the first time in full length form. The single's out on Beatport and Traxsource tomorrow, complete with a remix from UK house veteran ATFC.
Introduce yourself! Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be DJing and making electronic music in the first place…
"I was introduced to dance music by my brother and sister in the mid-90s – specifically the Fantazia: The House Collection albums by Jeremy Healy and Alistair Whitehead. They opened my ears to the clubbing world in which I started to immerse myself. Over the coming years, I grew to love many styles of dance music, from trance to funky house to the laidback vibes of Café Del Mar. It was an incredible time for music, and a time that really helped create my versatility."
Back in the late 00s you had a fair degree of success as one-half of The BeatThiefs. Dare we ask what happened there?
"Ha ha, nothing bad happened, thankfully! We were just at different stages in our personal lives which made the journey as a duo harder and harder. I loved every second of The BeatThiefs: we released music on some of the best labels, gathered DJ support from the world’s biggest names and shared unforgettable memories. Doing what you love with one of your best friends really is rather special."
Do you see yourself these days as a DJ or producer, first and foremost?
"A DJ, 100 per cent. My love has always been about playing music and creating memories for those in front of me. But in today’s market, being booked purely as a DJ is a rarity. It’s essential to build a strong catalogue of productions if you want to market yourself on a global scale."
You're from the UK but I gather you're something of a major draw in the Far East? Details, please – how did that come about?
"It all started with a gig in Bali about 10 years ago. I made some great impressions, which led to repeat bookings and introductions to other venues. Over the years the network has grown, and with that the fanbase. It’s such a superb part of the world to play – having the versatility to play house music on a wicked beach location one day, followed by big room house in a 2,000-capacity ‘Top 100’ superclub the next is essential."
Your earliest solo releases, like Sky Garden and Like This, showcased a very pop/EDM sound, but since then you've been treading a much housier path. What prompted the change in direction?
"Initially I wanted to release that ‘big room’ sound, but if I’m being honest, it was more due to the current music trends. After a couple of releases, I decided to follow my heart and go back to a more house-y vibe. My real love was the funky house of the late 90s and early 2000s – grooving basslines and pianos. You'll notice they feature very heavily in my music!"
Earlier this year you worked with Inaya Day on a remake of 2004's Nasty Girl. How did that come about, and what was the experience like – were you in the studio together, did you just get sent the vocal or what?
"My manager presented me with the opportunity, as he actually worked with Inaya on the original release. It was a classic, and no way was I passing on the chance to revamp it! Thankfully she really loved the new version and jumped onboard. We worked remotely, but she’s a really positive, lovely person!"
Your last single was Roller on Pukka Up Deep, but what else is coming up release-wise, because I've heard there are a few things in the pipeline?
"2019 really is a big year for releases. Roller showcased more of my underground roots and has received some fantastic support. Next up, I’m back on the incredible label that released Nasty Girl, Vicious Recordings, with a track called Higher. It features the sublime vocals of Effs and really does lend itself to the late 90s house music sound – BIG piano hook and uplifting vocals. Following on from there, I’ve got four more singles planned before the end of the year, so stay tuned!"
You've also got a couple of Ibiza residencies for summer 2019, so tell us about those…
"Yes, some really special parties with Pukka Up and their amazing sunset boat parties, plus WNDRLND at Eden on Saturday nights and House in Paradise at O Beach on Sundays. All three are unique parties that everyone should check out if they're on the island this summer. Both WNDRLND and House In Paradise are on another level when it comes to the décor!"
Finally, what else do iDJ readers need to know about Henry Hacking?
"I’ve never watched Forrest Gump."
Words: Russell Deeks
Higher is out on Vicious Recordings tomorrow (21 June) via Traxsource and Beatport, with a full release to follow on 28 June. Order it here.