Interview: Pharo

By Russell McMahon

Pharo - Resident for Frogbeats, Unleash The Beast.

If you’ve joined our DnB bandwagon over the last year and a bit then we’d like to say it’s a pleasure to have you, and let you know that you have this man to thank for it all. 

It was Pharo (James Harrison) who first suggested in 2011 - whilst being a humble promotor for the likes of Mungo’s Hi Fi, Boom Monk Ben and Bunty Beats - that Glasgow needed more drum & bass (and jungle!) along with a couple of other notable people (Mr.Max Walker). The hard-working 21-year-old vinyl enthusiast from Swansea has been working with us to put those plans in to motion ever since our inaugural Unleash the Beast on the 15th of December 2011. This was also his debut performance, not a bad one either with Sub Club being the place to be in Glasgow for almost 25 years adding Pharo to the long list of DJs who have been lucky enough to get behind the purpose built system found in the depths of the dark, grungy basement. He was also responsible for bringing partners Denney and Rize in to the fold too, thus creating the three members of their collective; Anura.

In terms of what you lot have seen of him, he’s been very understated (he’s a humble man); he played at our first 4 nights,  designed those respective posters along with the most recent letterpress poster for UTB#9, he played with iAM for their Tribal Rave, and most recently played at the launch night of charity outfit Keep It Local. Last Autumn saw him leave our shores for Canada and hence off our radars for a while - bar checking up now and again on how the night was going. Good news though, he has returned from the land where dubtech is rife and a monkey in an eskimo jacket got found in ikea (seriously, look it up) in time for our January slot at Sub Club with a new-found hunger to push forward with his career as a musician. We thought it about time to reveal a little more about the enigma making a solid contribution to lift drum & bass from the depths.

Q1) What/who are your main influences? 

There are too many names across a huge amount of genres that spring to mind when thinking of influences. Even though I put on drum & bass nights there is a time and a place for it, and Sub Club is a very suitable place. I would definitely say that Electronic music is the main type of music I listen to. I’ve really enjoyed listening to bass music in the evenings, mainly clean 140 stuff. I’ve been loving the releases by Deep Medi, along with Black Box, they have some amazing tracks, if you want names some that come to mind are producers like Mala, Kahn, V.I.V.E.K, Kryptic Minds, Pangaea, Moderat, Digital Mystikz, Loefah, Phaelah to only name a few. I have strong influences from Dub techno, which my eldest brother introduced me to by giving me two vinyls. I love relaxing to the very ambient progressive tracks. In terms of production, I get a lot of my influences from modern drum and bass artists who manage to put that creative spin on their music. For example I have been really enjoying the new-ish Spectrasoul album - Delay No More, producing a lovely variety of drum and bass and 140 tunes, yet still keeping that classic Spectrasoul feel. If you want more artists that I listen to, here they are… Amoss, Bop, Floating Points, Aphex Twin, DFRNT Big Bud, Fat Freddys Drop, Bonobo (his first few albums), Alix Perez, Breakage, BV Dub, DeepChord, Big Bud, Fluxion, Alt-J, Biome, Jurassic 5, Kahn, June Miller, Kode 9…

Q2) What got you in to DJing in the first place?

I’d been thinking of DJing for many years before I actually bothered to buy a crummy pair of Numark TT-100’s off gumtree for 70 beans. It was my good friend Josh Smith who had decks and some great jungle records, he let me have a go and I made a right hash of it, scraping the needle everywhere and dropping his vinyl’s over the floor. This was when I was living in Falmouth, Cornwall. When I moved to Glasgow I bought decks and my brother gave me some of his old Drum & Bass records to start me out and taught me how to beat match and I went from there.

Q3) What do you want to be recognised for as an artist?

I would love to have a couple of alias’ for a few different genres. I want to be able to play the underground music that I feel extremely passionate about and that I love hunting down on Discogs. I guess I want to be recognised for intelligent, strictly vinyl sets that are very tightly strung together. My main style is underground drum & bass, purely because that is what I have the most amount of right now. Eventually I want to branch out when I get funds in and be mixing more 140, dub techno/deep house and be putting more nights on in Glasgow.

Q4) What can I expect from you in terms of your productions?

I literally opened Logic last month, and haven’t had much time to get into the swing of things. Alex (RIZE) has been showing me the ropes, teaching me what things do and what everything means. I’ve been making simple beat structures, and learning what samples and recording sound good over each other. I definitely want to be making my own music, it just takes so much time. When I get things up and running, my ambition is to produce both Drum & Bass and some nice clean, 140 bass music. I have a few other genres in mind but I’m not going to get to hasty. 

Q5) What sort of reaction do you like to get from a crowd?

I really like it when someone comes up to me and ask ‘WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?’ in the best way possible obviously. I feel like all the work I’ve done searching and hunting down tracks that will fit in nicely with my sets pay-off when I can tell I’ve influenced someone on the night. Obviously when everyone is enjoying the tracks and the mixing goes well it’s just a great feeling, and I guess it’s nice to get acknowledgement for that. 

Pharo’s latest mix:

RIZE & Pharo B2B // 90s Jungle/DnB Promo Mix by Frogbeats Glasgow on Mixcloud

RIZE & Pharo B2B // 90s Jungle/DnB Promo Mix by Frogbeats Glasgow on Mixcloud