If you’re of a certain age, you can probably remember the origins of dubstep, this super wonky genre with a slower tempo and pitched and distorted synths coming out of the UK. Almost two decades later dubstep has evolved into one of the most popular genres in dance music on both sides of the pond (more on that later.) We got the chance to chat with UK dubstep veteran FuntCase. Hailing from Bournemouth, the DJ/producer James Hazell, better known as FuntCase, has been a mainstay on Flux Pavilion’s Circus Records, perhaps the UK’s premiere bass music label.
Earlier this year, FuntCase released his first ever music video for his song “Flames.” This was something of a surprise for his fans, as it strayed from his usually filthy dubstep sound. But, as we discussed, James is not a man to be tethered to one genre. James and I chatted about longevity as an artist, his DPMO brand, new music, and his newly discovered skill as a gamer.
Hey James! Thanks for chatting with us. You’ve been on the UK bass scene for over a decade. Tell us how you first got into making music, how the scene’s changed over the years, and how you’ve changed with it?
“Yeah, 14th year as FuntCase now which is honestly pretty insane. Not a lot of artists make it beyond a certain shelf life or even manage to stay consistent so I’m eternally grateful. So, ever since I can remember, my mum had been DJing and I was always around listening to the stuff she played, which was pretty much mostly drum n bass. Until I was 18, I didn’t even like the genre, let alone try my hand at DJing. But before I got into it, I was always messing with this music making program on the playstation called ‘music’. I would emulate tracks I liked, like ‘song 13’ by Blur and other tracks. I made my own tracks here and there but I preferred copying tracks. One day, my mum had met this new guy who was also a DJ and we went round his house one day and he introduced me to reason. This was pretty mind blowing at the time because the playstation games were extremely restricted and reason was huge in comparison and free to make anything I wanted…and from there the rest is history.”
DPMO has always been your brand, but you properly launched a label back in the heart of the pandemic. Tell us what made it the right time to launch a label and what’s it like running a label?
“It was always a dream of mine to own a clothing label and my own record label, so it’s always been a goal but it properly started forming in 2017 when we released not only the first clothing label season but the first DPMO compilation, which was born out of the idea that there was so much good music from new artists that it needed a home. After talking to my management and Circus, we felt like a compilation was a great idea for this, much like the compilation Andy C had in drum n bass called ‘Nightlife’. We really felt like there wasn’t a dubstep version of this and we decided to kick start it off, as I had so much ridiculously good music from artists that just weren’t finding homes. The label itself was fully launched at the end of 2020 with a collaboration EP with a bunch of artists I really liked the style of. The timing was great as we felt like there was enough talent out there that we could contribute properly, without being a direct competition to other labels in our category.”
What kind of new music are you working on right now? I know you branched out into more melodic territory with “Flames.” What are you drawing inspiration from now?
“‘Flames’ for me was really a COVID times inspired track. I was writing a lot of musical stuff during those times as we DJ’s had no shows to play, therefore any of the angrier energetic stuff we weren’t able to test out in the clubs and gauge if they worked. Was an amazing track to work on, something different for me and something I really enjoyed having Dia Frampton on as she’s such an amazing singer and person. Right now I’m working on a bunch of new stuff of all different types of styles. I am working to finish two EPs, one will be a solo EP and one collaboration EP for DPMO. My solo EP will actually have three dubstep, one bass house and one drum n bass track on, so I’ve been really enjoying working with all different types of styles.”
I know you just played Lost Lands, which is of course the mecca for bass music here in the States. What makes that event so special and what differentiates the US crowd from the UK crowd?
“It’s kind of known as the ‘Dubstep Superbowl’ and that’s honestly so true. The crowd there, are there for pretty much the whole line up, so everything tends to be perfect musically. Also artists like myself went there, even when we weren’t playing, just so we could hang out and network and watch some amazing new talents. In terms of US to UK crowds I’ve said this a lot and it rings fairly true these days, but the USA crowds are a lot more about the image of things so they dress up and almost have headbanging competitions on rails, which is awesome. The UK is a bit more stripped back and the crowds dance to themselves, but when a track goes off it REALLY goes off and they demand rewinds and go mad, which is some of my favourite memories in the scene as a whole.”
Speaking of European festivals, I know you’ll be playing Rampage in Amsterdam (November 4-5). Tell us what fans can expect and explain to an American like me what makes that gig so special?
“Rampage as a brand is just perfect and we should all be grateful for its existence quite honestly. I’ll be playing a Drum n Bass set there as something different but also it’s in a new city for the brand. Rampage as a whole is just a European mecca for dubstep and drum n bass and everyone should dream to go there at least once if they haven’t already.”
I heard you’re a big gamer too! What do you play and tell us about the online gaming community that you’ve become a part of?
“So, over COVID I basically became a full-time twitch streamer and it was awesome. I’ve been a gamer since I can remember but my recent go to games are Rocket League and League of Legends…I play a whole heap of games but those are my main go to. I also backed a game on kickstarter years back called ‘Prodeus’ which is basically a modernised run and gun style game like the classic ‘Doom’. The game has a level designer in it too and over COVID i decided to try to learn it and make levels and now i design levels properly on it! The first map I made on there was actually ‘Peach’s Castle’ from Mario64 and it’s now the highest downloaded community-made map on the game!”
Thanks James! Any words or advice for the fans?
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me all this time and keeping me around for this long. I hope in time I can grow to a level where I can bring you some super amazing unique shows and beyond!”
Get your tickets for Rampage here and stay tuned for updates on FuntCase’s upcoming EP. Check out this video of his performance at Rampage Open Air to get a taste of what’s to come!
This article was first published on Your EDM. Source: FuntCase Discusses New Music, DPMO and Streaming [Interview]