HARVEY McKAY is one of Scotland’s finest techno exports from the last decade and he continues to go from strength to strength with his new album, Anatomy Of A Drum Machine.
The long player is Harvey’s most accomplished work yet with him going back to basics in lockdown creating the sounds entirely from raw analogue synths from the ground up.
The album is also a very personal piece of work and is dedicated to his close friend David Balmer who is suffering from Motor Neurone disease. All proceeds from the album are going to help David at this very difficult time for him and his family.
We caught up with Harvey for a chat and he’s also recorded a very special exclusive set for us made up of only his own music from the past to the present.
Congratulations on your new album Anatomy Of A Drum Machine. For me it’s among your finest work so far which is saying something considering how long you have been releasing music?
Thanks Mark. Yea a long time man, I had my first release on my pal John Virtue’s label back in say 2006/7, he ran a cracking night in Glasgow called Inner City Acid and a label called Artificial Silence. After that I got spotted by Slam’s Soma Records and got signed up for a few EPs and an album which was a really big deal as they are such a big label. They really plucked me from obscurity, previously finding huge artists like Daft Punk before they later moved over to Virgin. I will always be thankful to them believing in me and giving my my start way back then.
You have dedicated the album to your friend David Balmer who is suffering with Motor Neurone disease. Can you tell us a bit more about David and your hopes for how the album may help raise awareness of this awful disease?
Yea Davey was one of my best friends growing up, we were joined at the hip in our teens, I pretty much lived at his house and I love and know his whole family, they are great people. He was tragically diagnosed with ALS the worst kind of Motor Neurones.
Davey is super ill now. He found out back end of 2019 and people tend to have a life expectancy of a year or so after diagnosis. But he is fighting in a way that blows me away, in the hope of the treatments that are being researched at the moment and that might come along in time. I don’t know if I would have the strength to do what he’s doing. He is incredible. I am so proud of him and decided to dedicate the album to him to let him know how much I care. Any profits that come from the album will go to him. Hopefully it’s also a way I can help to spread his story and show some love for my brother.
It feels like you have really stretched yourself with your sound here (in the best way!) Can you tell us about how you approached the making of the album?
Thanks Mark, I have spent a lot of time going back to basics and learning everything from scratch. Learning to make every noise from raw analog synthesis, raw sound waves from the ground up. It’s been a long but amazing process, great fun and to be honest really creatively liberating. I always knew my way about the machines obviously, but this was a back to the drawing board moment for me, no pre-sets, no loops, just starting fresh.
You choose to release the album on the Kneaded Pains label. Why did you decide Dense & Pika’s label was a the right home for this one?
They’re great lads and simply freedom mate. It was like, ‘we love what you do, so do what you want’. That was so liberating for me. They are so easy to work with and have been really a big part in helping me find creative freedom and so helping me becoming a better producer and musician.
It was great seeing you in Edinburgh in April as we watched Sven Väth together at Terminal V. You have a bunch of EPs forthcoming and Sven dropped one of them, Black Spider on the night. Can you tell us about all the music forthcoming?
Yea I am back on Cocoon after my debut on the label 10 years ago. And it was perfect timing seeing him again at Terminal V as I have a new Cocoon record being released in June. Sven is someone I highly respect and he is such a lovely guy whenever we hang out. It’s super exciting to be back with the Cocoon team and it’s such a big record I have coming, so really chuffed!
Also I see you have your first EP on Pan-Pot’s Second State label out now?
Yea I had my first appearance on Second State in December with my track Dragons Dynamite. So after that we started putting an EP together. I would say at this stage it’s my favourite EP I have done to date. I’m really happy to be working with the guys and really happy with the first EP we have, some of my best production I think.
How is your summer looking? Must be great to be getting back out there after the last couple of years?
Definitely, the pandemic with no music was hell with no shows. But I am all over the place by the looks of it this summer. To be honest the break made me realise how amazing it is to find yourself one day in Australia and the next in Argentina, all over the globe all on the back of music. It’s incredible really and I really feel it’s what I am here to do with my life.
Thanks for the music Harvey and looking forward to hearing your mix for The Night Bazaar which is coming soon and digging through your playlist selection which follows here.