Do you ever come across an artist and just question, “why doesn’t everyone know about this guy/girl?”. For me, Felix Hagan is that artist. On top of writing for pop stars, film, TV and adverts, he is also the lead singer of his own band Felix Hagan and The Family. With a total of one album, one EP and one single to their name, once you have listened to one Felix Hagan song, you will just need more.
His newest single “Your Fanatic” is my all-time favorite track of his. An utterly gorgeous melody, a large array of instruments that all play a different and important part in the song, meaningful lyrics that simple flow perfectly through the track and a relatable underlining message, for me this is exactly what I am looking for when searching for good music. I simply adore the this track and have done since the minute I heard that wonderful piano melody.
However, I shouldn’t write any more about this track. I don’t want to ruin it with my incessant picking apart and over analyzation. So I decided to try my luck at getting a small interview with the man himself to get some further information on the song and himself as an artist. The response I got was phenomenal and I can’t thank Mr Hagan enough. Download “Your Fanatic” here immediately, I highly recommend you take a listen and see what you think.
Okay, so first off, how did “Your Fanatic” come about? Was it a song you had in the making for a long time or did a certain, recent situation set it off?
I had the idea for the chorus melody going round my head for a few weeks, but I couldn’t seem to get it into shape. And then I was glumly driving up the M6 on the way back from a show and all of a sudden the lyrics fell out of my brain in a mad rush. I had to pull over and write them all down. It’s awfully nice when that happens. The song itself is about broken, abusive relationships where you want out but just can’t get away. When I write things like that I’m pretty much always talking about booze, with which I’ve had a very interesting time. We’ve since parted company for good, but I think the themes in it are broadly applicable to all sorts of relationships. Good old booze.
What musical or artist influences were most prominent when you were first composing the single?
The original idea was part of a big batch that I wrote for other people to sing. When you write music for a living, you are periodically issued with something called the “Who’s Looking List”, which details all of the artists signed to major labels who are currently looking for songs in particular styles. And there were quite a few after nice acoustic-y Ed Sheeran-y stuff. So I got to work. But then when I finished it I realized that… I wanted it. Better luck next time, pop stars.
Is this part of a wider album or EP we can look forward to? If so is there any information you could share with our audience?
I put it up as a free download as a one-off, just to brighten up the world a bit. But the response was so wonderful that I have started working on a few more quiet ones to give away for people. It gives me a chance to play around with the more pleasant side of things away from the madness of the Family records, and sing songs that aren’t mainly about debauchery and sin. Although I’ve found that it’s all getting quite emotional.
There’s one song called ‘It’s Not Over Yet’, which I wrote when my beloved Swedish grandmother was very ill recently. She’s getting better now, but I can’t seem to get through the vocal takes without bursting into tears. So I probably won’t film that one… Either way, I shall be slowly putting a little record together over the new few months. Stay tuned. But at the moment it’s all about the next Family record.
In the wonderful video that accompanies “Your Fanatic”, you are seen recording each instrument that is included in the song. Did you really create this song completely on your own?
Yeah mate. Here you see the results of an adolescence mainly spent hiding from terrifying girls and rugby twats in the school music block, practicing my arse off for ten years. It’s how I made the first two Family records, pretty much. Although I should say that the violin took quite a few takes… I still SUCK at that one. For the last few years I’ve loved playing everything on all the things I produce and I will continue to do that on all sorts of things, but for the upcoming new record with the Family (entitled ‘Kiss The Misfits’), I knew it was time to let the band do their thing.
They are the best musicians I have EVER worked with, and I couldn’t wait to get in the studio and hear them wail. Our pianist Joe, who is a world-class producer, took the reins on production and we moved all his equipment out to my parents’ house in the New Forest and recorded it all in the attic. Joe is sending new mixes every day and it is sounding AMAZING. We’re going POP on this one, and Joe’s genius is burning at a thousand fucking degrees. What a man.
Have you got any more shows coming up? When can we next look forward to seeing you and the Family?
God yes. Next week I’m doing a free solo show at Gullivers in Manchester on Wednesday January 28. It’s right across the street from Night & Day, where our mate Frank Turner is doing his own show right afterwards. I shall be roaring along with the big dog’s crowd right after my show, which will be fun. And then the next day The Family and I shall be smashing it up in the Hawley Arms in Camden. Following that we’re doing the Monarch in Camden on February 27, then the Sebright Arms in Behtnal Green on March 13th. We’ll be doing all the songs from our upcoming new record ‘Kiss The Misfits’, and having a lovely time. Come!
What is it like working as a musician nowadays? What parts do you dislike and what parts do you enjoy?
It is the best job in the whole wide world. Obviously the best thing by a mile is playing with the Family, which is when I feel truly alive. But the day to day stuff of writing, producing and practicing feels tremendously good for the soul. I’ll never be a millionaire, but who the fuck needs that much money? The bits that sting a bit are those times when the creative well is dry as a bone, when I can’t seem to do anything decent on any instrument and I get doused in doubt and feel rubbish. But luckily it all swings back around pretty quickly and I remember that I basically play with things for a living.
Is there any act or up and coming artist you have found that you would defiantly advise others to listen to?
At this point I am duty-bound to plug all my mates. Luckily I actually love all their stuff so we’re okay. Jingo are fantastic. They play wonderful, intricate and emotional melodic rock with BALLS, and their singer Katie is fabulous. They’re playing at our Sebright Arms show. My best mate Alex plays in a band called Cable Street Collective, who play African inspired carnival pop and are fantastic. Our pianist Joe has just poured his magic dust all over their new EP. Give a listen to “You Can’t Take Me Under”. It’s one of the best songs I’ve heard in ages. Louis Barabbas is a shining beacon in the musical storm, and he has been a tremendous inspiration to me. He’s finally got to work on his long-awaited solo record, so start counting down the days until that arrives. It will be something wonderful.
What is your favorite band or record at the moment?
My favourite artist is Amanda Palmer, for a multitude of reasons that I detailed (at enormous length) in an article for Chimeo Music. But recently I’ve been listening to lots of REALLY FUCKING HEAVY stuff, which is new for me. It was seeing Jamie Lenman smashing the nuts off 2000 Trees when I played there that got me delving into the deep end of rock, and since then I’ve been listening to his stuff a lot. Also Frank’s nutcase side-project Mongol Horde are kicking ass. Our friend Jonny plays in a band called Zoax, who seem to be setting the world on fire and are awesome. Aside from that, in the last few days I have finally caught up with the world and started devouring the New York Dolls back catalogue. Man, they’re amazing. And my regular musical diet consists of large helpings of Cole Porter, Dr. John and masses of musical theatre.
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Interview by Jack Valla