Hagan started out producing music intended for “a basement club where the lights are out, you go in and let the bass hit your chest”. From early tracks like ‘Foot Stomper’ through to his remix of Afriquoi’s ‘Acid Attack’, there is a treacly, percussive core in his music that is distinctly Hagan. From this, the South Londoner experiments and pushes himself as an artist, with projects such as his 2020 EP ‘Waves’ inspired by the ballroom scene and Jersey club. Out on Mr Mitch’s Gobstopper Records, the EP started with a request from Mitch for songs to play on his radio show. Hagan felt that the ethics of the label — empowering Black producers and musicians — made it all the more important for him to put something out with Gobstopper.
More recently, Hagan’s music has been shaped by not having a club or crowd reaction. His tracks have become softer and the bpm has slowed from his standard 126/130. “It’s not everyday ‘let the bass hit your chest’,” he says. “I want to let people hear the soundscapes and sound design, but broaden my toolset to work with more artists, and travel with them musically.”
He’s set to release an album this year. It will definitely have the Afro-bass depth that characterises his sound, he says, while moving between moods of celebration and contemplation: a concept album through instrumentation, championing African dance music. Raised in Croydon and Mitcham, Hagan grew up in a house that played palm wine music, highlife, hiplife and gospel music; listening to the likes of Ebo Taylor, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, Pat Thomas and K. Frimpong, to name a few.
Over years spent going to hall parties and get-togethers, he started to hone in on certain bass riffs and percussive trills that brought the best reactions on the dancefloors of London’s Ghanaian community. At the same time, he absorbed the sounds outside of his house, such as garage, UK funky, grime and jazz. He played percussion for his secondary school band, music GCSE and church group, and at school, his agemates would get him to play beats on top of bins.
“Instead of playing a typical grime beat on the bin, I would give the beat a little more flair and add African rhythms to it, so that made it more jumpy,” he recalls. “Those were some of the best reactions I’ve had to music, people would be going crazy for those beats and just be spitting.” When he’d get home, he’d record Kiss 100 garage sets onto his cassette player — “It was confusing, but it was a nice piece of confusion”.
In his teens, the Music Maker DAW taught him how to arrange and manipulate samples, and after building up confidence and familiarity on that, he switched over to FL Studio after pleading with his mum to purchase it as a birthday gift. His artist name, Hagan, is his mum’s name. He feels that anything that happens from his music is due to her support, and he wants to celebrate her name.