Huey Morgan interview: influences, tastes and ass-grabbing

Ahead of his Hare and Hounds DJ set, we caught up with Fun Lovin Criminal and 6Music DJ Huey Morgan to chat about what he loves about spinning tracks.

Lorna Gray

Last updated: 5th May 2017

Image: Huey Morgan 

Famed for his contributions to seminal funk and hip hop collective Fun Lovin' Criminals, frontman Huey Morgan has since taken to the decks and airwaves. 

With his own acclaimed radio show on BBC's 6Music, listeners have gained an insight into Morgan's eclectic tastes, which range from funk and soul, to hip hop and modern rock, all the way to world music from an extensive list of countries and cultures. He brings this unique mix to Birmingham's Hare and Hounds as part of the Mostly Jazz, Soul and Funk Festival and will be spinning his favourite tracks across a wide range of genres and styles.

We caught up with Morgan, to ask what makes Djing one of his many passions within music. 

You're well known for DJing on 6Music, is it a difficult transition going from Djing on the airwaves to Djing live?

I started to DJ in the clubs in NYC when I got out of the Marines, and since then I’ve been stacking vinyl and making it nice, so doing that on the radio, for me, is the same animal. I don’t think that DJ’s in clubs should be over calculated, in fact, the vibe is the most important thing and to do that, you have to let the moment dictate the vibe. 

Too much of the time we're expected to adjust our vibe to our entertainment - when in fact, it is the opposite I find the most compelling argument.

What can people expect from your live Dj sets?

You can expect to hear music for the moment that you are in. I can say this or that, but hyperbole ain’t my thing. It’s really fun to play some cool music and have other folks get the step and make a move.

I imagine there's a lot more engagement with your audience when you're Djing live, do you enjoy being able to scope at the reactions or do you much prefer being in your own bubble in a studio and feeling out your own vibe?

I’ve been privy to be in some of the best booths ever in New York City and seeing the best do it better, I’m left with a collective ethos that most times it’s better to work the vibe than to work the crowd. When I spin I start there and if it’s a ‘thing’ that folks want me to speak to them, it means to me that the music isn’t speaking to them and I’m not down to go out like that.

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A lot of musicians and celebrities are taking to Djing at club nights now, is it frustrating for you as a professional and someone passionate about it to see these musicians dabbling?

I don’t hate, I participate. If folks who DJ get bent when someone who doesn’t really DJ gets slots they think they should have, it speaks more to our culture of celebrity than to who is a better disc jockey. And to put a finer point on it, I would also say that DJ’s are just people who play other people's music for everyday people to vibe to and the virtue in that is held by their audience.

On your 6Music show you play quite a range of genres, from world music to hip hop, do you know and prepare what sort of music you're going to play at your live appearances or do you wait until you arrive to sense it out?

Back in the day, guys I knew had to bring three or four boxes to gigs to cop a full nights worth of jams. You had to really scope the frame and bring what you thought might work and in that struggle is the virtue, but with the advent of sticks and Serato, you can bring almost everything to bear which shifts the virtue back to selection, but in reverse.

Where did your broad music taste stem from?

I never stop being a music fan. As a musician, I have devoted my life to it and as a fan, it’s important for me to still be ready for the amazing. It’s when you expect it least that the vein turns to gold.

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Are there any specific DJs that influence your Djing?

Kid Capri, Jazzy Jeff, DJ Premier, Clark Kent, Stretch, Biz Markie, Jules for the UK, Mateo DiFontaine, Riz in Brooklyn and Jesse DeVille in Miami.

Do you have a certain 'go-to' track that you drop to save a dancefloor if it's lagging or dying down at all?

If you have a ‘go-to’ track, it means you have killed a floor before and that means you should get another job.

What to you love the most about Djing live?

By a country mile, the most fun thing for me is seeing folks grabbing each other's asses on the dance floor. That is what I’m there for, to facilitate ass grabbing.

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