Interview | Harry Wills
Updated: Apr 18, 2019
As the dominant force behind the launch of Earful of Wax back in February, UK Garage and 2-Step (other monikers are available) has continued to flourish on the underground in 2019. More promoters/crews, more radio, more mix series, more UKG nights period. Thankfully, no matter the medium, all are finding ways of organically combining old and new as a means to introduce fresh talent and pay homage to the originals.
Here’s our pick of the bunch from the past few and forthcoming:
Shuffle ’N’ Swing (Record Label & Community)
Set-up as a forum for group discussion, networking and general appreciation for all things UKG, SnS are three guest mixes, one record and an event deep.
Ollie Rant (DJ, Threads, Balamii Radio)
Just as much a regular on London radio stations Threads and Balamii as he is on UKG line-ups across the capital, Ollie is a true, contemporary purveyor of the sound old and new.
Art of Dark - Goes North London (Event, Record Label)
Known Internationally for some of the best curated line-ups in minimal House & Techno, Room 2 of their “Goes North London’ event at The Cause could get interesting!
Dig deeper into any or all of the above and one of the names you’ll find regularly mentioned is that of Harry Wills. Harry brings with him a unique sound and has released or had features on some of the best the “dark/minimal” garage releases of late from the like of Orbital London, Rude Goldberg Series and Entity London. Arguably leading the way for the new school, we had the opportunity to ask him a few questions. We find out a bit more about the man, the producer and get a brief insight into the Frankfurt scene.
Hi Harry, for those who don’t know, where are you from and how long have you been DJ-ing for?
I grew up in Cornwall, then moved to London and I’m currently living in Frankfurt. I’ve always been making and playing music in some form or another but it’s in the last six months that things have really began to happen.
Tell us a little bit about your musical background? What was your earliest introduction to music as a child?
My dad was very musical and there were always plenty of instruments in the house. I was going through some old tapes at my parent’s house the other day and found a tape of me and my dad playing music together when I was five years old - I’m attempting to play the drums on some of them, but my timing wasn’t the best! I messed about with the guitar for a bit as a teenager but everything changed when I got hold of a copy of Reason and from then on I’ve always been making electronic music.
...and your early inspirations?
The first tracks I was making were heavily influenced by all the classic Warp records stuff, which is still a big influence on me today. Then Dubstep came about and that changed everything for a bit, from spending time on Dubstepforum (Shouts to the heads that remember!) I started to check out the House sub forum they had on there, and it was actually through this that I had my first tracks signed under an old alias.
Sick, under what alias and where can people listen to these tracks? They're probably best left in the depths of the internet, but if you do some digging you can find a couple of them easily enough.
What took you to the city of Frankfurt and how long have you been there?
A good friend of mine Rob Amboule (who I originally met through Dubstepforum) moved there around three years ago, so he was quite instrumental in persuading me to make the move from London, which I did in October 2017.
Talk to me about the scene over there and what you’re involved with? e.g. Oval Distribution?
Everything is more or less centred around the record shop GOSU run by Phil Evans, Oval is run by Benji and operates from a room in the back of the shop. Rob and me are generally there on a Friday afternoon testing out what we’ve been working on during the week. My first two EP’s were from tracks that had caught Benji’s ear when I’d played them in the shop, which he then put out on two of his labels EXT & OSMAN.
Clubbing wise you obviously have Robert Johnson in Offenbach and then there’s a few clubs in Frankfurt and some off locations but there’s nowhere near as much going on as you’ll find in London or Berlin on an average weekend.
The UKG resurgence is in full flow back home, and lots of the new 2-step stuff seems to be coming from the minimal scene, how does it feel to be among the names leading the way in the recent growth?
I feel very privileged that people are interested in listening to my music. I've been quite lucky with the timing as well, the last few things I've had come out have been very much a part of this sound and I have another record coming out on Project London Raw in the next couple of months which also fits. The records that are lined up after that are more in the style of my first two EP's, so more 4/4 based with electro and breakbeat bits as well.
Alongside the re-issues/DATs, there appears to be a lot of new-school “dark-garage” coming through. How do you think the sound has evolved (if at all) compared to the stuff we grew up on?
I think that it’s our generations' chance to put their own twist on the stuff that we used to hear when we were growing up. Obviously the equipment that most people use these days is vastly different to back then so it’s going to sound different. There’s also been a good 15/20 years of music released in the meantime that has been absorbed and changed the way people think about and interpret things when they sit down to write a tune.
Where do you see this resurgence going? Already, there are lots more UKG nights being put on and OG heads are being booked for one-off sets. We're keen to hear how you think we can keep it at a healthy level.
I think that as with all these things it’s cyclical and I always tend to think of Garage as summertime music, so with that being just around the corner lots of people are tapping into it again. Coupled with this movement that’s been bubbling away for the last couple of years it’s all come to a head and here we are.
Next Orbital London release? Are there any label parties planned?
There will be a VA coming out over the summer that I’m excited to have a track on, along with some other tasty names. Jack and Tam have plans to do some parties as well, so keep your eyes open for them towards the end of the year.
1. UK Event?
I went to Houghton for the first time last year and that was pretty mind-blowing.
I'm really bad with questions like this and I don’t really have any outright favourites, this kind of falls into the producer category as well but the Silverlining Dubs series are always really reliable and I find myself playing them quite a lot, useful in lots of different situations.
At the moment...
DJ: Margaret Dygas
Producer: Cheesy answer but all my friends making tracks.
Do shout out these friends...
You can catch Frankfurt based Harry Wills in London on the 25th May for Art of Dark at The Cause, Tottenham.