An Interview With – FatGyver [Fanu]


In the walking light of day Janne Hatula is just another Fin swimming around in an ocean of fiends looking for a bite of something delicious or, in his case, a nice hot cup of Joe. But by the vale of artistry, Janne is transformed into a beat-making phenomenon; swinging through the city of Helsinki, on vibes spun from his wrist-embedded beat-slingers – beating up the bad guys: it’s your friendly neighbourhood FatGyver.

Citizens of the 170 world may be familiar with the heroic exploits of the drum-focussed warrior of the spectrum, Fanu. But perhaps less familiar with Janne’s alternative alias; a fledgling with albatross grandeur on the roll into the colossal universe of Hip-Hop.

FatGyver: fuelled by sounds global and foods gargantuan. Twelve cups of coffee and three hams frothed in a whipped-cream jus; the typical breakfast for FatG before he hits the streets in an assertive waddle, setting fear into the hearts of those who stand to oppose the creation of fantasmacle music.

We tracked the beast down and wrangled him to the floor so that we could get a few questions in about his debut album release on Damu the Fudgemunk‘s Redefinition Records and his last works as the dangerous dnb face; Fanu…

(check out our previous interview with Fanu here)

First off I just wanna say congrats, once again, on the Talk To Strangers album, launched under your FatGyver guise and landing early last month (10/02/2015), not just for the fact that it’s been released on such a respected label (Redefinition Records), but when I listened to it a few weeks before release, I thought it was one of your most enjoyable pieces of work to date; I was fiending every track. Can you pick a favourite?

Thanks – I am definitely hyped about getting it out on Redef. It was fun to write. I had no expectations or rules or anything in mind while doing it, whereas with bass music, I’d be lying if I said I don’t think of those at all.
Writing hip hop is actually pretty new to me, and I’m already working on way more as it feels fresh, for sure. There’s already at least another album’s worth in the works, and there’s actually another EP, Espresso Addicts Anonymous, waiting to come out on Redef sometime in the springtime.

My fave track off the album is probably the title track, Talk To Strangersor the Sampladelphia beat as it came out exactly as I wanted; East Coast hip hop vibe, nineties thing.

But I like the album as a whole. As I was writing it, I didn’t even think of the track order or anything. I think it’s a decent representation of having a coherent vibe, as when you write an album in a certain period of time, it usually comes as just that: a representation of how you felt during a certain period. Sometimes, I swear the luck is on your side when you make music in the right mindstate, and you just keep finding the right samples, which keeps you going on and on, it all feels effortless, and that definitely applies to the writing of Strangers.

Also, the album got posted on the front page of iTunes US and Bandcamp on the release date, which felt great as I had zero expectations. The feedback has probably been the best I’ve ever experienced.

For those that don’t know, Redefinition Records has a history of raw and soulful releases from regulars such as Blu, Raw Poetic and K-Def and on occasion has attracted hip-hop royalty such as MF DOOM (all caps of course) and Kanye West. Blu and Raw Poetic even put down a few verses for you, I bet that felt pretty special right?

FatGyver MPCYeah, it sure did. Talk To Strangers, the title track, was an instrumental first, just like the whole album is. I started that beat with an MPC 2500 and later on finished it with the MPC Renaissance and thought “it’s finished.”

John of Redef, who has connections with plenty of good cats, said he’d love to try and get Blu involved, and I was totally down. Blu was in France back then and we had to wait for a bit, but it was so worth it. Raw Poetic did a great job, too, and the parts where he sings I really love…I want more of that.

John also had Joe Buck – who’s done a lot for De La Soul (e.g., the famous flower cover, De La Soul Is Dead) – do the cover art, which was pretty much the icing on the cake.

You mentioned it briefly last time we spoke, but for those who have been bunning perhaps a bit too much, could you tell us again how you got in touch with Redefinition?

The crazy story is, when I started writing the album, I did have Redef in mind – and only Redef. If they hadn’t picked it up, I would’ve put it out myself some way.

I kid you not, I harassed them to a great extent up to a point where I did feel a bit embarrassed about it, asking them to listen, and it definitely did take them a while, and I had just decided to start putting it out myself (I even had art done by a friend) when they replied and said they heard it, like it a lot and would love to release it as such. I know they receive loads of music, so I understand.

Being persistent is the key, I guess. Not recommending others to harass the hell out of labels…or, actually, I am, if you really do believe in your music.

Do you think any of the Redefinition roster will be gracing your own Lightless imprint in the future? After all, it seems like Americans are starting to take notice of the 170 side of things more and more as of late (Machinedrum, Sinistarr, Lee Bannon, Random Movement, etc.) and the results have been pretty positive in my opinion.

TBH that hasn’t crossed my mind, but hell yeah, that’d be so dope. Especially Raw Poetic, who has been doing stuff with K-Def, is great and I love his style. We should definitely try and cook something. And if not bass music, then more hip hop.

Lemme tell you he wrote his verse and the singing parts for Talk To Strangers real quick, too. The label told me his uncle is Archie Shepp the jazz musician. Jason (Raw Poetic) told the label he went on an 8 year stretch of writing and recording a verse almost daily to hone his skill. That’s some dedication, right? That’s insane. People like him deserve a good spot. That’s why he was able to do what he did for Strangers so fast. Also, his song Streamline (beat by Damu) was recorded in full just 2 hours after he got the beat (check that song out…it’s so good and one of my Redef faves).

Okay, well if we were to ask you, on a clean slate, to pick out a stand-out favourite record from the Redef back catalogue, what would it be? I know there’s a lot to choose from…

That’s a crazy question! I just mentioned Streamline, so, hmmm…I always tend to think of something that I’ve been listening to a lot recently without overthinking it for an hour. There’s a song by K-Def and Raw Poetic called Stealin Bread (from their album Cool Convos in Quantum Speech that just came out). That’s really good. If we’re talking about just beats, I’d go for Damu’s beat Puttin’ In Work…funky as hell and it’s got the sample from the movie Office Space. Oh, and Damu’s beat Coffee Table…you know I love coffee. I could list a truckload, TBH.

I know Damu has been a long time inspiration for yourself, as a fan, and now the years have come where you’re actually producing with the man. It’s an incredible accomplishment; I can’t help but wonder who else might be on the FatGyver hit list?

We’ll see. I believe that those that belong on your path will show up there when the time is right. Applies to all walks of life. Partners, spouses, collabos, work stuff….

TBH, trying to work with or contact a lot of people in bass music has taught me not to chase anyone anymore. I’m putting down my own path and seeing who’ll show up there. I know I’ve built a little bit of a musical legacy, but honestly, I still feel like I’ve only just started, and there’s a lot of people who I’d love to support more. There’s a whole lot of great guys doing awesome stuff I love that you may not have heard of…Somejerk, Graphs, Sonis, Nonfuture, Wish, Fishstix, Recue, etc etc.

I plan to collabo a bit this year, which is something I haven’t done much, and I’ve already started something that’s going to be good…there will be some good things coming up. Definitely gotta make a collabo with Polar happen, for instance. There’s also a compilation cooking with music from some of the aforementioned guys and some more.

FatGyver may be lording life with Talk To Strangers, but we know that Fanu popped out a delicious new 12” / digital EP – the Lightless 007 – release earlier on in the year; a double-edged sword, softly touching bass with retro 85 track grooves in the likes of Bad Dreams and the Coleco remix and then there’s the floor-stomping Da Movement – a track we’ve been watching eagerly for a few months now. Talk us through your thinking behind the EP.

I had been totally feeling the slowfast type of stuff as I think it allows for some rhythms and grooves we haven’t done a million times before. DNB needed that so badly…it started happening at the very right time. So that was my take on it. I was also in a hip hop mindstate at that time… Danny Breaks sort of stuff, both his DNB and hip hop. I just put those vibes together, and the result was Lightless 007.

Coleco suggested to me that he could have a go with a remix and I was totally down…he did a perfect remix.

We’re actually working on some collabo stuff as we speak…it’s something you might not expect from us alone, to say the least.

Well let’s get some Coleco focus for a second; you mentioned him with a swift passing line in our Fanu interview last year and have since sprinkled the fancy with this Lightless 007 release. Now you’re telling us, something we had an inkling for, that the two of you are infusing your minds for the creation of new, literal, Lightless audio, of the likes neither of you have ever made before. He’s a name we recognise and one that’s cropped up a few times on the radar; bossing things down in Bristol with a label and club night that are both well respected and having had past collabs with Om Unit and the like as well; so just how exactly did you come to find and form such a strong musical relationship with this man about the scene?

I’m trying to remember how we re-connected. I met him for the first time ever many years ago when me and Chris Inperspective were playing in Bristol. I recall sitting on some bare floorboards at some place, eating bacon, and Coleco was there (actually, it was Coleco that pointed that out, TBH. Ha!).

I think we re-connected some time ago thru Soundcloud as we were feeling each other’s tunage. He then booked me for an Inflect Bristol gig last May and I had a nice weekend at his and his lady’s place, eating some dope sushi he made. I also met Om Unit and Thelem there that weekend, so that weekend was full of good vibes.

Coleco is a total UAD (Universal Audio) fanatic, so after that weekend I soon bought myself an UAD interface. UAD should totally cut him 20%.

But yeah. He makes ill sushi and beats. Collabo is happening.

Throughout your drum & bass production the influence of hip-hop has always been worn with pure pride and I’ve heard you discussing the close connection between the two genres on your radio shows. Would you think it’s fair to say that the soul of drum & bass has leaked equally back into your hip-hop?

You know, it’s harder for me to analyse this than it is for someone who’s been listening to my stuff for a while. I barely do any conscious thinking when writing music, so mostly it’s just about influences.

Hip hop has always been an influence, so I bet it works both ways. I remember Redef told me they love the D&B influence in my hip hop, and I was like, “Oh yeah? You can hear it?” as I was just trying to make hip hop as I see it, while also taking a little break from bass music.

So who is the current champion, the one who’s taken up the most hours of your listening over the years, Drum & Bass or Hip-Hop?

Hard to say, really, considering I’ve been listening to those for over 20 years. Damn. These days I don’t listen to that much bass music as I barely have time for that (I do check out some, especially mixes and promos I get) but I do listen to hip hop and absorb a lot of beats from there.

They both got drums and bass, so they’re both my bitches. Boom.

Janne… FatGyver… Fanu… you’re literally the man.

You can check out our last interview with Janne, as Fanu, here!

Grab a copy of FatGyver’s Talk to Strangers here

And nab up a copy of Fanu’s Lightless007 here



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