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When using the term Second City, some people may refer to Chicago or here in the UK some people may even refer to Birmingham in England. We at Datatransmission however are nearly always referring to Chicago-born Rowan Harrington better known as Secondcity.

Second to nobody this summer, Rowan has enjoyed a flurry of success in his breakthrough year after sky-rocketing to number one in the UK charts with his smash hit record I Wanna Feel. Now the 27 year old house DJ and producer looks to establish himself as he plans his next chess move in his career.

We got the opportunity to speak to Secondcity about how working with Defected compares to working with other music labels, what his original expectations were for the track I Wanna Feel and how important the past twelve months have been to his career.

Performing is obviously one of your biggest passions in life. Where and when was your first gig and how did it go?

My first gig was in London. It was at a little club in Shoreditch called Village East. That was the first gig I ever did, it was me and Route 94 actually. It was both our first gigs which was weird because neither of us were known at that point. It was our first booking and it was really cool. It was the first time we had ever played out. 

Obviously, you are bigger now than you were then. Do people react to you now differently to how people reacted to you back then?

I guess people know the music that I play a lot more now. So, I don’t get treated any differently but it’s great to see people knowing my tunes and singing them.

Do people recognise you more when you are out and about on the streets?

Not really, not on the streets, no. In clubs and stuff, people come up to me which is really cool and amazing. That is the big difference from when I first played to now. 

Obviously, we are now talking following your set at Defected In The House at Booom. What is it you most enjoy about performing at Booom? 

I enjoy the atmosphere and the crowd. Everyone just has such a good time and you can come and play what is important to you and where your passion lies. I really like that and the fact that people are really open to hear what you are willing to bring rather than what everyone else is playing so I like that.

What did you think of the reaction from the crowd to your set tonight?

It was cool, yeah it was a nice vibe in there.

Did the reaction differ to the usual reaction you get at Booom?

I mean this is my third Defected In The House at Booom this year so for me, they’ve got better and better. The crowd has just got more responsive and more into the music and that is great.

Firmly setting the pace in 90’s house music with Route 94 and their edit of Freak Like Me, you soon found Huxley, Skream, Disclosure and MK all championing your 90’s house sound. How does it feel to have garnered such recognition from such an illustrious group of your peers? 

Yeah it was good. At first as well, I’ve known Skream for quite a while so he was the first person I sent music to – him and Huxley. It just grew really nicely from there. It was so cool and amazing to see that reaction and move to Nic Fancuilli and a lot of other people that I look up to which is great.

Have any of those influenced your work at all? If so, how?

Yeah, massively. Just the music they make, the vibe that they get out of it, I love it. For me, it is the kind of music that I like and enjoy to make. It has energy and percussion. I really like that kind of African feel to stuff, I really like that kind of vibe.


It’s a rarity to work with such established labels as Defected, especially in your first year of music production. How does it compare to work for them and other music labels? 

It’s great, I have been wanting to work with Defected ever since I started. I have been sending them my music since my first couple of records. Yeah, to do an EP and some remixes for them was really good, it was really nice to work with them and to get to know them on a friendly level as well. I’ve worked with Saved Records too which of course is Nic Fancuilli’s label.

How does it compare working for the two?

It’s hard to say. Obviously, in terms of the nights and the music, it’s different and has a different kind of feel to it. But I am into both and they are both really good labels to work for.

‘I Wanna’ Feel is one of your biggest tracks to date and of the summer so far. What were your original expectations for this track?

Free download (laughs). That was literally all it was meant to be. It was out for about a week on free download so the fact that it went to number one is just mad.

How did it feel to achieve number one?

Amazing, yeah. Especially when you don’t set out to do it and your kind of just making music you want to play on a track and that’s kind of the level it was at.

Your work is supported by a variety of Radio 1 names including Annie Mac, Mistajam and Zane Lowe. Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?

I think Annie Mac would be fun but we share quite a lot of musical tastes anyway. Yeah, I think she would be a cool person to work with. I really like her anyway and she is a nice person so it would be cool. 

It is no secret that the past twelve months have played an essential role in establishing yourself on the electronic music scene. What does this mean to your career?

It’s massive. It’s either make or break when you set out to make music isn’t it? For me, I did it from a passion point of view without even looking at it as a job. To get from doing it as a hobby to something you love to actually have as your day to day job is just incredible.

Did you expect to have such success from the past twelve months? 

No, not at all. Nothing like what I’ve seen. I would’ve been happy just doing one EP this year. I’ve done three with some amazing labels and I had a single go to number one. So yeah, it’s mind blowing.

What do you hope to achieve within the next twelve months of your career?

I would like to just carry on doing what I am doing, do some more EP’s and some other dance stuff.  I’d like to work with people like Carl Cox. That would be a really big one for me.

Is there anyone else that you would particularly like to work with?

Nic Fancuilli, Hauswerks, there is a guy from Moda, Dale Howard who I work with as well. So yeah, it’s all kind of taking shape really.

After a mind blowing 2014 for Secondcity so far, what is next on your agenda? Is there anything you can exclusively reveal to us?

There’s a new single coming in October with Ali Love from Hot Natured. But that’s not really exclusive because that had already been aired… 

What are your expectations for the record?

I just want people to like it, that’s it. That’s all that matters really.

Do you think it can follow the same success as I Wanna Feel?

It’s a tough one to say because when I make a record, I try and make it to a standard that I like it. Anything more is just a bonus.

You can catch Secondcity playing at this years SW4 Festival which is happening from August 23-24. More information and tickets are available here: www.southwestfour.com

Words: Matty Adams  


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