Meet rising Thunder Disco resident and Bicep collaborator, Hammer

Hammer, real name Rory Hamilton, is an individual who’s musical career has flourished as of late. Having originally acted as a contributor to, and one third of, the excellent Feel My Bicep blog, Hamilton found himself touring the world under the moniker alongside childhood friends Bicep.

Now residing in Glasgow, where his Thunder Disco parties are an important aspect of the city’s ever flourishing musical community, Hamilton has seen further success and a growing number of supporters from his recent production efforts. Last year’s ‘Dahlia’, a collaboration with Bicep, was featured in Mixmag’s 100 top tracks in 2015, whilst their new joint effort, ‘Aracari’, can be found on Aus Music’s landmark 100th release compilation.

With plans for a release on the Optimo Music label later this year, and a bulky touring schedule that will see him DJ at the likes of this weekend’s Farr Festival, we touched base with Hamilton to discuss his personal history with Bicep, what draws him towards collaborative projects, and Glasgow’s thriving musical community.

Hi Rory, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Your forthcoming release ‘Aracari’ will be your 4th collaborative project with Bicep. As you are old friends, have you always been making music together, or was this a recent venture? 

I’ve been friends with Matt and Andy since I was 7, and by 15 I spent any time I could round at Matt’s house messing about on Ableton. Making a simple drum loop was a completely new world to us. We’ve definitely stepped it up a notch over the last 3 years (or at least I hope we have), spending time in the studio and making as much music as we can together.

Have you always had an interest in production? 

Definitely, but it is only recently, in the past two years, that I’ve been taking the time to focus on production.

What’s the chemistry like between you and Bicep in the studio? Are there individual roles? 

Matt is the supervisor, I’m the slightly mad experimentalist and Andy is the geeky knob twiddler (not exactly the right words there but you know what I mean).

This will be the first collaborative release between you that won’t be on Feel My Bicep, what does it mean for you to be releasing on Aus amongst that roster of artists? 

It’s absolutely amazing; it was great to put something out on a different platform with them, never mind something as huge as Aus’s 100th release and 10 year milestone celebration. The track ‘Aracari’ started out completely different and just kept changing, then this opportunity came up and it seemed like a perfect compilation track, so it’s all round happiness being involved in the release, and with so many producers that I love.

You’ve also released music with Ludd, what is it that draws you towards collaborative projects? 

I’m a fairly social person and I’m not too controlling, which makes it easy from the get go. It’s also always been about having fun for me, so going round to a friend’s, or vice versa, is a tradition I’d like to continue. That idea coupled with increased access to equipment can make it a lot more creative. Rich from General Ludd has pretty much every synth you could imagine. I also have a lot of solo stuff coming up, but I will always be pushing collabs.

You recently played on the Boiler Room stage for this year’s AVA festival alongside the likes of Optimo, any plans to work with Optimo in the future?

This question has freaked me out a little, have you been reading my mind? I’ve got a release coming out on Optimo’s label in October. My first ever solo release, it is genuinely a dream come true for me. Also, Jonnie and I have chatted about doing a B2B for about 2 years now so let’s hope that happens!

How crucial do you think AVA is for Belfast? 

Beyond crucial. It’s a showcase, it’s educational, it’s a proper party and it combines everything that is needed to inspire the younger musical generation. Luckily we have always had something that captures our musical imagination in Belfast. Firstly, the old raves at places like the Art College (which also had a lasting effect on the likes of Leftfield, Orbital, Chemical Brothers etc.) which were started in the late ’80s/early ’90s by folk like Keith Connolly, who coincidently took me in as a graphic design intern when I was 19. Then, for me, there was Shine from 2004 onwards, and now this, It’s a big reason reason why so much talent and serious musical knowledge comes out of the city. Try going record digging with Timmy Stewart; I was blown away with his stories and by every record he pulled out.

How important has living in Glasgow been to your musical development, and are Optimo a big part of that? 

Optimo (and Sub Club) was my Glasgow equivalent of Shine in Belfast, which was everything really. It definitely broadened my mind! Glasgow is my new home now and the amount of music freaks there is unbelievable, so living in amongst that community has been brilliant.

You’ve been running the Thunder Disco Club at Sub Club for a good few years now, why did you initially want to start the club night, and did you feel pressure to fill the shoes of the likes of Optimo (Espacio) and the Numbers collective?

No, I actually joined Thunder Disco in its 2nd year, my now best pal Jube who started TDC asked me to help out, I had planned to just help out in the background as I was involved in other stuff but it became a big thing for us when Sub Club became our home, and it grew from there. The only pressure we feel is to make it a good party.

Do you plan to take the TDC club night out of Glasgow or do you think it wouldn’t work as well as it does at Sub Club? 

We threw a few outdoor parties on at Off Sonar years ago, which was a lot of fun, but mainly just focused on Glasgow for now.

Finally, what were some of the records you were first spinning when you started DJing out and about, and how do you source your music for your sets now?

Strangely my Farr DJ mix starts with one of my first ever “good” records, Bergheim 34 – ‘Take my Soul’. And on our first ever gig while still at school, Matt and I opened with Fischerspooner – ‘Emerge (Dave Clarke remix)’. But when I started properly DJing in clubs, I had moved into more Nu and Italo disco stuff like The Revenge – ‘Night Flight’ and Elitechnique – ‘Elektric Evening’. Now I mainly source my music by listening to mixes, stealing them off mates, trawling promos and getting lost on YouTube.

Hammer plays Farr Festival at Bygrave Woods, Hertfordshire, July 14-16. More info and tickets here.

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