With a knack for gnarly, high-octane dubstep productions, energy fueled stage presence and attention grabbing persona, 28 year old James Hazell, a.k.a. Funtcase is arguably one of the UK’s most ruthless and merciless musical exports. Since the start of his bass music career about eight years ago as drum and bass producer, DJ Dose, Funtcase has assumed his role as a lead figure in facilitating the swift movement of dubstep overseas and across the globe with the help of his gritty and aggressive musical perspective. And with countless reworks and original tracks under his belt, the masked madman of Circus Records has contributed way more than just a number of tear out tunes to the bass music genre; as his presence within electronic music continues to shine as a beacon of purely hostile and headbanging hope for only the filthiest of bass music fans.
As it becomes more apparent that many of today’s electronic artists have veered off the path from their initially established styles to explore other, more trendy genres, its become equally obvious that Funtcase has rejected this sacrifice and stood steadfastly in the exact opposite direction instead. When asked to comment on this shift in the mentality of many of today’s electronic artists, Hazell described:
“The thing is that a lot of people confuse artists going off to more trendy styles with selling out. A lot of people do it cause it’s in their heart to do that kind of style and they’ve wanted to do it forever, and now they’ve got the platform to do it. Everyone thinks that Flux is selling out doing more commercial stuff, Skream’s sold out going to house. Skream loved house before dubstep. Everyone always does what’s in their heart and that’s why I respect it, and what’s in my heart is drum and bass and dubstep, so I stick to what my heart says. But every now and again I’ll dabble in different styles and genres just for fun cause I’m a guy who produces everyday, that’s my job, and I can’t just stick to one genre cause it gets boring, so I work on other stuff to keep myself sane.”
Although admitting to dabbling in other, more obscure production styles like Hip-Hop and Moombahton, he assured us that these projects are only “experimental”, as he only plans to release dubstep and drum and bass at the moment.
With that said, we asked Hazell to divulge more information about his two other, lesser known, aliases, the late drum and bass DJ Dose and deep dubstep’s Haze:
“So DJ Dose, I ended up just stopping completely. I played one show in my hometown as DJ Dose and then I killed him off because I wanted a fresh start as my own name. I didn’t want people to associate to my old style, because it was like my foot in the door to getting to know people, and it obviously brought me to where I am now, but it was like a fresh start. I needed to erase that quality of music and then bring it to the quality I have now, so now I can apply everything to Funtcase and have a whole new quality of music. Haze, it was just an experimentation in making deeper dubstep. People think it’s because I wanted to prove that I wasn’t some tooty producer. I just made it for fun and I gave it to other people and it blew up, and at one point there was a hype around it, but I never intended for that to happen, I just wanted to make stuff a bit off Funtcase. If you listen to Haze and listen to Funtcase you kind of know what you’re gonna get when you listen to each name. You know what you’re gonna get when you listen to each one.”
Despite making a name for himself in electronic music’s history as knock-out dubstep producer, Funtcase, and dabbling in the deeper side of bass music with Haze, it should be noted that the producer hasn’t decided to entirely leave his drum and bass roots behind just yet, as his love for the swift-tempoed genre is still very much alive and kicking. He admitted:
“Everyone thinks I’m leaving dubstep for drum and bass, but I was making drum and bass for like 7 years before I even started making dubstep.”
Hazell then illustrated the elaborate and quite coincidental history that led to the gradual shift away from his humble D&B beginnings into dubstep by explaining:
“Back when dubstep was first about, I didn’t actually like it. I was still trying to make it in drum and bass as DJ Dose, I was making crap that sounded like everyone else. But I had a friend who had a dubstep radio show, and this is when dubstep was like super underground still, in 2009. There was a little bit of hope around it, only because people just started noticing it. And I made a track for him, just for his radio show for fun, that was ‘Gorilla Flex’, and it got millions of pull ups on radio shows and then once I gave it to other DJs and stuff it was like popping off, so I made a few more just for fun.
I still didn’t even like dubstep when I was making it, that’s why it sounded like nothing else, cause I had never really heard any. And then I made the track called ‘So Vexed’ and I gave that to a drum and bass DJ called Crissy Criss and he played that on the radio while he was playing a big festival, like Creamfields or something like that, and it was aired on the radio and it he played that, cause at the time there was nothing that loud or energetic in dubstep, and when he played that the crowd went absolutely mental, he rewound it twice. And then after that, shit started popping off; people were trying to work out who that was and they found out it was me and it just naturally occurred that I ended up liking dubstep. It took a while, but I almost didn’t understand it in my brain cause I spent so long making drum and bass that dubstep sounded too slow.
The first tracks I made were like way too quick, they were like 147 BPM, and dubstep’s like 140. But yeah, it was just like a natural progression. It was an accident. A great accident; a pretty damn good accident.”
Now that Funtcase has been revealed as Hazell’s most promising and highly established alias, we asked how the inspiration behind the grotesqueness of his physical persona came about. He admitted:
“The mask was also an accident. The first ever Funtcase show I played, I wasn’t wearing a mask at all, I wasn’t planning on it anyway. And the night before I played my first ever Funtcase show, I was doing graffiti for a big festival, and it was dress up. I was dressed up as a robot from Dr. Who and I had the whole suit and the mask and after that, the next day, I must have removed everything from my suit apart from the helmet, which is now what the mask is. And my friends who were in my bag just before I was about to go on stage told me in a dare to wear it and I wore it, just for fun, and it stuck.”
“I have a brand new mask made, it’s not quite there yet, but it’s almost there. I have to bring it out soon. It’s like Funtcase 2.0. It’s got the look of Funtcase but it’s just a bit fucked up compared. If you cut the mask in half and fuck it up and put it back together, that’s what the new mask looks like.” [We’ll see it soon] “when it’s perfected. I’m gonna do a hype thing on Facebook beforehand and say ‘this is the new mask, I’m gonna be airing it at whatever’…whenever I decide that is.”
When asked to comment on which Funtcase productions he’s most proud of, Hazell revealed:
“I think ‘50 Caliber’ has to be one of my most favorite productions just because of how well it did, and, most notably, probably my most recent track, which is a drum and bass track called ‘Requiem’, it’s a remix of ‘Requiem’. And that’s probably the best thing I’ve ever produced personally for myself. Yeah, ‘50 Caliber’ and the new remix are the obvious answers, and then there’s a few Haze bits which I really love that I made, there’s a track called ‘Big Love’ remix by True Tiger. Basically just sat there for a week, putting my heart and soul into it.”
By achieving unforeseen success as the now, widely beloved Funtcase through harboring an unconditional love for dynamic and unique bass music, the angry clawed producer has taught his fans not only the beauty of staying true to one’s self and passions, but to never second guess or be afraid to pursue that inherent nature within them. And, for that, we throw up our “gun fingaz” in salute to your unique brutality and filthy individuality, Funtcase. Cheers!