HomeSick is the Uninterruptible Footwork Machine Living and Breathing on Tumblr


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HomeSick is the Uninterruptible Footwork Machine Living and Breathing on Tumblr

How a blog from Calgary tumbled its way to the forefront of a global movement.

By day, Calgary-based Shaun Lodestar works in electrical engineering as an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) technician, ensuring electricity for data centres and intensive care wards. By night, he is HomeSick, the producer/DJ/promoter who masterminds the Footwork-Jungle Tumblr blog, label and movement—providing a constant stream of fast-paced dance music flowing through Canada to the world.

His talent and drive have earned him one of 61 coveted spots at this year's upcoming Red Bull Music Academy in Paris. This vote of confidence and industry support comes two years since HomeSick's first release, a footwork remix via the Ground Mass imprint of Shy FX & UK Apache's classic 1994 jungle anthem "Original Nuttah." Since then, McHale has released tracks on labels such as Philthtrax, Phyla, and Ecology Benefit Society, as well as on two compilations released by Footwork-Jungle itself: Fire Hazard and Rave 2.0.


What really put the Footwork-Jungle blog on the map is its sustained monthly clips of more than 28 exclusive DJ mixes—an extensive archive and ongoing resource for both the intuned footwork and jungle DJs, to the least clued-in newcomers seeking to explore the intersection of these two genres. Footwork-jungle is now taking Western Canada by storm IRL under the banner of the new event series Percolate, which HomeSick produces in partnership with industrious Calgary-based tastemakers Cherriep of the Philthtrax label and Michael Benz of the Noctilux Collective. Since October of 2014, Percolate has brought footwork-focused events to classy venues such as Calgary's Habitat Living Sound and Vancouver's Open Studios and Fox Theatre. These boutique Canadian club events lure a kind of audience that is more curious than committed to the footwork dance. Percolate deserves full credit for watering the roots of local DJ/producers like Cherriep, Ghostwhip, Self Evident, Taal Mala. Having mobilised around him such good company, HomeSick's momentum is undeniable.

THUMP caught up with McHale after several recent Percolate events to get into the gears of this man who is fast becoming the uninterruptible footwork machine.

THUMP: When and where did you first hear "Original Nuttah" and what made you decide to remix it as the first HomeSick track you'd produce? HomeSick: Oh my gosh, Soda—The Soda days. Soda was the most run down…nah, it was great. That's where I started out in Calgary. Back when I wasn't even into electronic music that much, there were these drum and bass nights and I remember hearing jungle music for the first time and I was like, "Oh shit, this is something good." The moment that it clicked was when I heard the "Original Nuttah" tune. It's like, [singing] "Na ne ne whoa…" and I soon as the drums come in, I was like, "Shit, there's something here: rollers." Those jungle rollers just get me going. I love it.


How did you connect with Groundmass on the release?
Groundmass was really my starting point. Big ups Mark Kloud, big up Jason Graphs. It's two years since we started. We were pumping out free compilations every month. That was very testing.

That seems to be a part of the footwork mentality. You hear about the way DJ Rashad used to be, giving assignments and deadlines to his Teklife crew. How important is productivity to you?
There are people who have their workflow on point [and] DJ Rashad was famous for that. He could just plug out amazing tunes, like, one, two, three, four, five, six… all the time. As a result, he was such a huge part of footwork and continues to be. RIP Rashad. I've been putting a lot of time into production. I've got a lot of new stuff on the way, but it's tough. You can't keep on track with Rashad. You know, making like, three tracks in a day. I can't do that. I think I'm too picky with my workflow.

With your productions, what direction are you going in?
I've been trying to keep it accessible but still do that intellectual prodding that footwork seems to do. Playing in Calgary, there are a few heads there, but a lot of people aren't familiar with the sound. So I think a lot of what I've been focusing on lately has been providing a bridge for those people—something that they can relate to, that almost tricks people into that footwork vein of things.

I've got this one track I play that I made called "Environment Standards", that's going to be released this year. It starts off accessible, but I try to bring battle footwork—that bizarre really complicated stuff. It's like free jazz meets dance arena. You have to be really clever to incorporate that in a smart way.


How would you explain the difference between footwork and juke?
How I understand it is that juke is much more static, like four-on-the-floor; whereas calling something "footwork" opens up the opportunity to start playing with the bass kicks a little bit more. Obviously there are tracks that will have a four-on-the-floor kick up until the main part and then get into footwork. There's a lot of grey area. Footwork is kind of like the breakdown of juke.

Do you notice a different sort of appreciation from people who were into jungle in the nineties, and are now getting into footwork?
Lemon D is now known as K-aze, footwork artist on the AllRoads label. So you have an old school jungle producer, who's obviously very tight knit into that old school rave that we're talking about, straight up making footwork music right now. I think that's the epitome of footwork jungle.

What's been the most interesting aspect to seeing footwork-jungle grow in the two years since you started?
It's connected me to the footwork community all over the internet, all over the world. It's breathtaking how tight-knit the community is. Everybody's just sending tracks back and forth. Everybody's sharing. Everybody seems to be so genuine.

What is Rave 2.0, what does it mean?****
Rave 2.0 was made after many conversations with Rob Huckle of Dred Collective. We were just passing back and forth old rave footage from the 90s and just falling in love with the aesthetic— the sampled rave stabs, the rolling drum breaks. We heard about people getting into it and combining it with footwork music. We were just like, "Shit, we should put together a compilation." It's a regeneration of what that was about back then.


There's the visual aesthetic of **Rave 2.0 *as well, with lots of 90s colours and 3D graphics. Do you see a connection there between Seapunk style and what you're doing?***
It was very easy for me to get sucked into this online culture. It wasn't long before I started a Tumblr. I was addicted to Tumblr and I just latched onto that. You've got Seapunk, Vaporwave—all these strange internet aesthetics. I fell in love with them and started making badly-rendered CG. It's almost playing on nostalgia, you know? Like playing old N64 games with shitty graphics, but it's so real.

What's up with spelling Footwork-Jungle using alternate glyphs?
It's cheesy. It's cheesy and I love it. It's like what your MSN username would've been in junior high school.

You weren't raving, yourself, in the nineties, right?
I was collecting Pokemon cards, and biking. That's what I was doing.

HomeSick performs opening for Deepchild July 3rd at Habitat Living Sound in Calgary.

HomeSick is on Facebook // SoundCloud // Twitter