With the rising popularity of abrasive, gritty sounds and “put your hands in the air” drops, many EDM producers have lost sight of the fact that they’re supposed to be creating dance music. Falcons, however, has not.
Long before he touched a MIDI controller, the producer, born Michael Graham, travelled around North America as a competitive B-boy. Having danced his way through various southern states before landing in Vancouver as an 18-year-old, the artist credits his groove-laden tracks to his deep understanding of how music makes people move.
“I started out dancing when I was really young—about nine,” he tells the Straight, on the line from a tour stop in Miami. “At that time, there was a really big scene. I was out skateboarding, and I saw some dudes who were breaking, and I was really fascinated with it. I didn’t really have the money to keep buying skateboards, and it was something that I didn’t need to pay for. I fell in love with that culture and way of being.
“There’s a big relationship between dancers and DJs, especially with the percussion,” he continues. “When you’re in a B-boying competition and someone changes the beat, the track has to flow and it can’t mess up the dancers. That’s a big thing. Every song that I do has to have at least some groove. It doesn’t necessarily have to be super hype, but it needs to have a bounce to it.”
It was his time in Vancouver that really pushed Graham toward making his own music. Arriving in the city to pursue dancing competitively, he found a group of like-minded individuals who were into the same niche subset of beats. Together, they established a local crew named Space Camp to put out their newly created tracks, which later morphed into Chapel Sound: the collective responsible for spawning artists like Ekali and Jade Statues.
Now living and working in Los Angeles, the producer is making a name for himself by blending West Coast beats with southern rap—a nod to all the places he’s called home. Trap percussion and gangsta hip-hop brush up against rolling, laid-back bass lines in his music, earning him mentions in leading rap magazine XXL and a track featured on Apple Music’s hip-hop top five. Graham has an ear for talent and has worked with a number of hyped up-and-comers, including Adam Vida and Grammy nominee GoldLink.
“GoldLink is a bit younger than me, five or six years, so he was really young when I was starting to get some buzz on SoundCloud,” Graham recalls of their meeting. “He was following me, Kaytranada, Sango, and a couple of other people. He starting rapping over some of our beats, and made a mix tape of all of his favourite SoundCloud people. He sent them through, and I heard it. He was rapping over a bootleg remix, so there were two vocals going on at once. I thought it was a little hectic and I couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, so I sent him the track without the vocals on, and he rapped on that and it was really sick. So after that we became homies.”
Picking artists mainly on the strength of their skill rather than name recognition, though, Graham takes his father’s advice when searching for new collaborators.
“He told me that no matter what I do creatively, be original and don’t copy,” he says. “Because if you’re good at being different, you don’t really have any competition.”
Falcons plays at Contact Winter Music Festival at B.C. Place on December 26.
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