Despite originally making a name for himself as part of the Feel My Bicep crew, Belfast-born Hammer — AKA Rory Hamilton — has firmly stepped out on his own these days. The bulk of his musical education came via Glasgow, where he held a residency at the famed Sub Club perfecting his craft alongside the likes of Optimo, Floating Points, Ben UFO, and Paranoid London – artists he hosted under the Thunder Disco brand. A stellar studio debut on Feel My Bicep in 2014 was followed by releases on Optimo Music, Huntley & Palmers, Loft, Modern Magic, Correspondant, Hotflush and most recently, Sulta Selects Silver Service with Dance Since. The track is a thundering slice of house music with a growling bassline and big 90s gospel hook, but on his session for us, Hamilton seams through a batch of unreleased tracks to show off his techier side. Retro-electro breaks are followed by big, bright synth lines cascading over lush melodies, slices of warm, dreamy house and slamming, attitude-heavy UK sounds – styles he says were inspired by his nights spent on our very own Room Three space.
Definitely, I wanted to go down a more techy route, one that brought back my memories of dancing in the dark reaches of Room Three. With that said, I try not to limit myself, so there’s a good bit of synthy stuff, and lots of my own bits in there too.
Where and when did you record it?
I recorded it on Tuesday afternoon in Pioneer’s studio in Shoreditch – they kindly let me test their new kit too, which was great. It was nice to be in an immersive space that has the set-up, but it was also absolutely roasting so I had a lovely club sweat going on.
How did you select the tracks?
I spent a long time thinking about what tracks and vibe to go for. I always contact friends checking for new bits when I have a mix coming out. It’s the people around me that inspire me the most, and actually the majority of tracks in this mix are from those people, or labels run by my friends. Two tracks are from fabric residents actually, I used a track by Analogcut, which is Bobby.’s label, and also a tune Voigtmann sent me a while back. There is also some music from some amazing Irish artists, namely Jordan and Long Island Sound, and some other demos I’ve been sent recently.
Can you talk more about the tracks of your own you mentioned?
There’s a track from my upcoming Feel My Bicep release, and another from the Percolate EP that will follow. I included an edit I’ll be giving away soon too. It’ll be available with two other edits as a nice wee freebie.
Does it usually take you a while to put a mix like this together, or is the process more intuitive?
It really does take time. Firstly I think through the vibe, then the tracks and then the flow. I actually mind-mapped (old school spider diagram) all the tracks on paper before making it. Once I’m mixing, it becomes more intuitive, and things change and flow more naturally than in the planning phase, thankfully.
What else have you been up to lately?
Glastonbury was a total highlight, it’s another world and with so many pals there for my set on the Wow stage, it was pretty special. Then straight after that I had to finalise the premasters for my next Feel My Bicep release, which was very tough. I’ve been working hard on finishing an EP for Percolate too, along with lots of edits. So in the last few months I feel like I’ve got high productivity again after a period of mainly experimenting in the studio.
How has living in London for the past few years impacted your sound?
The last few years in London have been amazing for my musical career, I’ve developed the technical side of my sound, especially the finer details of the production process. I took a step back from my graphic design work to focus solely on music. I also moved from a bedroom studio to a proper studio space. Both these factors gave me so much more headspace, which has helped me craft music. I also now share a studio with an amazing producer called Alex Anderson. He has a much more minimal sound and is extremely talented, especially in sound design. Along with sharing all his amazing hardware, it’s been really great for me musically, nurturing my old love for the more techy sounds.
Finally, what else is on the horizon for you through the rest of the year?
The Feel My Bicep EP has just been mastered, due out in a couple of months. I also have an EP on Percolate lined up, and the three edits I mentioned. My next vinyl release on The Hammer Hits is almost finished. Finally, I’ve been very busy planning a wee The Hammer Hits tour in about seven cities in October. I’ve invited friends of mine to join me to play and made all the artwork too, so it’s been challenging and fun planning that.