In 2014, UK artist Secondcity broke onto the electronic music scene with the release of his debut single, "I Wanna Feel." A shockingly catchy and melodic track, “I Wanna Feel” saw unprecedented success as his first track, hitting number 1 on the UK Singles Chart later that year. He’s since followed up with more originals, but now with his forthcoming latest release Secondcity has set out to continue proving his talent in different, deeper sounds. “Say It” is due out this week via Nic Fanciulli’s Saved Records, and will include a remix from underground veteran Guti. A darker, more technical version, Guti’s take on “Say It” is minimal but mature and moving. Check it out below ahead of its release later this week, and Secondcity’s take on his music’s past, present and future.
EARMILK: Ok, so first question: tell us a bit about growing up, what music influenced you?
Secondcity: It feels like such a long time ago! I grew up in Chicago but I was very young, so the music out there growing up was not something I was fully aware of. But going back to those early teenage years, I remember my mum was very much into the older house, jazz, disco… she listened to Tony Humphries's radio show and all that kind of stuff, so I was listening to that, anything ranging from hiphop, classical, jazz, house… it was a wide range.
EARMILK: So when did you decide that you wanted to make music for a living?
Secondcity: I never thought of it as a living, but when I was 13 I got some turntables, and I just used to DJ all the time, in any free time I had. Then 2 or 3 years later I started making tunes – mostly hiphop, because that was what I had started out with DJing. It wasn't until it actually became a living that I ever thought it was possible. I was just making music because I wanted to, and I loved to DJ, and that was it. So I started at 13, but my career didn't really start to take off until I was 24 or 25, so it was a long time of me just doing it for the love of it, rather than as a living.
EARMILK: Tell us a bit about the before and after of the release, 'I Wanna Feel'. How did life change for you?
Secondcity: Things changed massively. It was an amazing thing to happen, but it was really unexpected. I just made that record for a bit of fun, it was going to be a free download… but then people like Skream were supporting it, as well as Zane Lowe and people like that, so the build-up was really cool – I could tell people were supporting it and liking it, which was great, and I knew it would work in my sets. But then it went on to be a number 1 record, it was completely mad. I was so overwhelmed by it, because it was so confusing and sudden that I panicked for a little bit. Everything changed from that point, I was getting ten times more bookings than ever before, it just opened so many doors for me – even in the sense that people like Nic (Fanciulli, who runs Saved) came forward at that point and started talking to me about doing stuff on Saved, which was really cool. It did so much, it really just put my name out there on a massive scale, which has been invaluable, obviously.
EARMILK: Well obviously you've been touring quite a lot since then – what have you learned about yourself as a performer vs being a producer?
Secondcity: It's a tough question, I love going on tours and going to Ibiza, but I do always have that need after a couple of weeks, where I just want to make music again. It's up and down, if I spend a lot of time in the studio I'm like, I want to DJ so much, but if I DJ a lot then I'm like, ok I wanna make tunes now. It's completely equally split.
EARMILK: So you grew up in Chicago and then moved to the UK – it says here that that is kind of the reverse of how people who grow up in the UK often move to the US as soon as they've become well known. The question asked if this has influenced your outlook on music at all?
Secondcity: I don't think so really, because I was so young, so I didn't really have a chance to be consciously influenced. It wasn't until later in life that Chicago and Detroit house became something that I was listening to. I was in the UK at the age where I really was paying attention to music, so I feel like I was more in touch with the UK scene than anywhere else in the world. I used to listen to garage and all that, but hip hop was a massive thing that I loved – I guess coming from America, that was the biggest thing that I took from there and rubbed off on me. I was only 9 or 10 when I left Chicago though – it wasn't like I was going to clubs and appreciating it. It was more down to the fact that my mum was listening to that music so much that it stuck in my head.
EARMILK: And finally, what can you tell us about your next release?
Secondcity: It's a record that I was playing a lot over the summer, and I hadn't actually sent it to anyone. It's a kind of techno record I guess, it's something I'm really happy with. I was thinking about making a record I'd play for a long time and would stick around, and capture more people's attentions. I eventually sent it to Nic, and he was really into it and playing it out, which was great obviously. Then I asked Guti to do a remix for me, I was so happy that he agreed to it. It really feels like a big step up for me, in terms of getting to where I wanna go and the artists I'd like to be affiliated with. Obviously I'm really happy with it. Although it comes with the remix, it was nice just to do one track on the label, rather than an EP, which can kind of get a bit lost. So I was happy that this piece of music was strong enough to come out by itself.