\”People aim in different ways in music for what they want out of music, so you get people that literally aim to be commercial pop stars. You also get people who make music they love and get way bigger than they intended.\”
It was a visit long overdue; finally, England-based producer FuntCase got to tear up Chicago into pieces with a loud and chaotic set. He played at Concord Music Hall with Kennedy Jones on May 31st, 2014.
James Hazell, 28, has helped bring dubstep across the sea to us within the last few years along with its gritty, aggressive, and rather filthy UK roots. With countless reworks and original tracks, he has contributed way more than just a number of tunes to this genre; he has brought all the hostile, heavy headbanging glory to dubstep and now the dance floor.
EDM Chicago: Are you excited to finally play in Chicago for this time?
FuntCase: I’m stoked as hell.
EDMC: Have you heard anything about Chicago?
FC: People tell me how sick it is. Everyone tells me how good it is to play in Chicago, but for some reason no one had booked me ‘til now. There was a public outcry on Twitter and suddenly, I’m here. I’m stoked to know that my fans really want me to play here!
EDMC: The first thing I noticed when I heard about you is your name. Everybody’s got a unique tie to their stage name; what’s yours? Is it as simple as flipping the F and C around?
FC: Literally, that’s what it is: flipping the F and C around. There are several reasons behind it though: when I first started making dubstep, I was trying to make it as a producer in drum & bass and didn’t want people to know who I was at the time; I ended up coming up with some stupid names, one in particular was Billy Sastard, like silly bastard. FuntCase was one of them and it made me laugh! I never thought I would make it this far so I’m stuck with it.
EDMC: Did you have a drum & bass alias before?
FC: Yeah, it was DJ Dose.
EDMC: When did the whole mask come in?
FC: It was pretty much another accident in my dubstep career. When I played my first show (in front of 6 people) I had the same designed mask in my bag; I was doing a graffiti event the night before and had a special Dr. Who costume on. My friend said I should wear it for fun.
EDMC: It’s very distinguishable! Someone would see you playing records and know you as the man behind the mask.
FC: Yeah, it stuck with me even though it was an accident. The whole mystery thing of it is pretty great.
EDMC: Circus Records; you’re representing it by wearing the shirt. I’m sure it’s way more than just a label to you. How’s it like working with and being part of the same family as the big dogs: Flux Pavilion and Doctor P?
FC: It’s good; everyone on Circus has their own place within the record label. Everyone has their own distinct sound which is what makes Circus great. The whole range is there; Flux and Doctor P were making sort of bouncy, happy music at the start of Circus and I came through being the first sort of ‘angry’ guy they signed. That was the start of something new with the more aggressive additions to Circus. They then signed Cookie Monsta because he had a massive YouTube following, so we took him on along with the following and that kind of helped propel Circus. I knew Doctor P from my drum & bass days; he used to be known as DJ Picto and we would talk on AIM and one day we both decided we would make dubstep. I gave him an early idea of ‘So Vexed’ and he gave me an early idea of ‘Badman Sound’ and Circus was then born.
EDMC: So you were one of the first signings? When did Cookie Monsta come in?
FC: I was literally Circus Record’s first signing. Cookie came in shortly after, about 4-5 months after me. It’s always fun playing back-to-back with him.
EDMC: Dubstep has some loyal fans here in the states and the scene has expanded in Chicago itself, but it’s obviously way more popular in the UK. What are the differences between both scenes, and what positives or negatives do you take away from them?
FC: They’re very underground driven in the UK; they always try to be the trendsetters and the Americans always feel like they take the trends and make it their own. In the UK, we took it (dubstep) from the underground and made it big and it came to America and became a huge party. The U.S. turns it into a massive spectacle with the lights and visuals, but it never has been like that in the UK. The dingy underground clubs like Fabric have gotten big, but I feel like the U.S. is a party where the UK is full of… Have you ever heard the term ‘chin-stroker?’
EDMC: … No, I can’t say I have.
FC: It’s like people who watch a DJ play and actually watch the disk jockeying rather than listening to the music. If the DJ messes up the mix, they’ll be like “oh I called that!” It’s kind of like that with the UK.
EDMC: It makes the UK seem so much cooler for the true music fans.
FC: It’s so different man. America is just like an explosion of the whole party scene, which does make it so much fun. Sometimes the UK is too serious. You see Americans all like “Yeah!!!” Then they look at each other and hug it out.
FC: Yeah, bromance!
EDMC: Speaking of popularity in America, I’m sure you\’ve already seen The Chainsmokers on American Idol. How do you feel about artists ‘selling out?’
FC: People aim in different ways in music for what they want out of music, so you get people that literally aim to be commercial pop stars. You also get people who make music they love and get way bigger than they intended. The only way you can ask a guy if they’re a sellout is if they originally stayed underground and then changed their music for the money. You can confuse many people to be sellouts; many people say Flux Pavilion is a sellout, except he’s only ever made music straight from his heart. It has taken off and become massive.
EDMC: Do you ever think dubstep will become as mainstream and popular as other main stage genres such as big room house and electro?
FC: Yeah, I mean we\’ve pretty much already gotten to the point where dubstep is at that stage. The moment I saw that happening was when I was running around on Call of Duty and Skrillex came on in the club in the game.
EDMC: The whole time I was asking that question, I was thinking about that scene! It was weird because that game is set in the near future… Were the developers depicting dubstep to take over the future?
FC: That exact moment was when I realized how big dubstep has gotten. It was hilarious; in the midst of my disbelief I just hid in the club and listened to the music.
EDMC: If you could focus your production on another genre farther away from dubstep, what would it be? I know you were in the drum & bass scene, but anything farther?
FC: I\’ve always enjoyed producing hip-hop, like proper old-school Wu Tang beats and heavy 90\’s beats, not trap.
EDMC: If you weren\’t producing in general, what would you wanna be doing?
FC: I’d want to be in a band. I was in numerous bands before I started making music.
EDMC: Are there any up and coming producers you’d want us to look out for?
FC: There’s a few new Circus guys like Mizuki, who’s touring in America right now which is great for him. My boys Genetix, who made Squid Attack, are making some ridiculous stuff at the moment. There’s 50 Carrot, Soloman, and this newcomer on Firepower Records named Twine. I have at least four of his tracks in my set tonight.
EDMC: Got any upcoming tracks or collaborations we should know about?
FC: I got hit up on Twitter by Skrillex to do a collab which has yet to happen. I’m doing that much collab work because I’m working on writing an album. I started one with Protohype when we were on tour, one with Datsik, and finally Eptic.
EDMC: Do you have any special pre-set rituals we should or shouldn\’t know about?
FC: Usually about ten minutes before I play a set, I get the mask on and try not to talk to anyone. I walk around and sort of psych myself up for the show. What I do on stage doesn\’t represent me in any way as a person, apart from the energy! I’m the least angry person you’ll meet, so I have to focus on being this FuntCase guy.
EDMC: Dark Elixir asked: how big is your little toe?
FC: About 1.2 centimeters, possibly longer.
EDMC: Trolley Snatcha asked…
FC: Ah, f*#$&%, what the hell did Zack ask?!
EDMC: He asked: what’s the difference between FuntCase and a bag of dead babies?
FC: Is this a joke or do I have to answer this? “I\’ve never masturbated on FuntCase and thrown him in the river.”
EDMC: Wow… Has he ever tried snatching your trolley?
FC: No, I don’t have any trolleys. I have baskets though and he has never taken a basket from me.
EDMC: Well, that’s good. What are some of your favorite places to play around the world?
FC: I\’ve got to say anywhere in California, they always go so hard. My first show in the U.S. was Escape From Wonderland. I\’ve played some legendary shows in New York as well.
EDMC: Have you tried Chicago deep-dish style pizza?
FC: We have a version of it in England, but I haven’t tried it here. I barely ate anything today; we’ve just been exploring Chicago for the first time. It’s kind of like London with more buildings. The tallest building where I live (Bournemouth) is only about ten stories tall.
EDMC: Are you gonna blow the roof off tonight?
FC: I have a lot to live up to. I’m hoping this building turns into rubble after tonight, but I’m 109% sure that won’t happen!
FuntCase indeed lived up to his name; he brought a ridiculous amount of energy to the decks and caused pure mayhem throughout tonight. We were privileged to have him play for us and sit down to discuss music and everything around it. Thank you once again, James!