The intersections of music always create a unique space for exciting, new sounds to rise. Intimately involved with the creation and propagation of future music for the past couple of decades, Dennis “Dego” McFarlane, half of the super group 4Hero, is putting out his first solo album. Over the years Dego has experimented and lead new developments within drum and bass, hip hop, jungle, soul and broken beat with groups like Silhouette Brown, D.K.D., and Jacob’s Optical stairway.
We recently caught up with Dego to ask a few burning questions. Quite a well-spoken gent with a glorious sense of humor who happens to make some of the most forward-thinking music on the planet.
Who is Dego, where are you from and what do you want people to know about you?
Dego is power source originally found in Kashyyyk. Its price has skyrocketed somewhat now due to the EX6 androids have stopped being manufactured (they mined this energy source) in my pure form I am capable of hyper jumping once every Myomar days. I am currently living on Earth in order to DESTROY it. LONG LIVE THE EMPIRE
You may know me better as a son of Jamaican parents raised in London and lover of the nutmegs on the hallowed turf.
When did you know you wanted to make music a full time gig?
I was made redundant from my job and thought to hell with this - I’ve got nothing to lose. Dove into music full-time in ‘91.
For you, what has been the most influential sound/person that has helped shape Broken Beat? Why?
Broken beat oh broken beat. Number one, I don’t like the term because people’s interpretations were always incorrect. They thought it was solely ‘future rage’ & ‘loose lips’ but my they were very wrong. The West London sound was more of an attitude rather than a particular groove. It represented many influences such as soundsystem, electro, house, hip hop and soul. I think the main leaders in this field were I.G, Bugz in the Attic and Domu(recently retired). They shaped this by not conforming to one genre and letting anything drive the groove, feel and depth.
Collaboration has been a huge part of your career. What have been some of the most memorable collaborations you’ve had and who are you looking forward to working with?
The best collaboration I have had and will NEVER be able to surpass is working with Mr Larry Mizell. He and his wife are great people and very easy to talk to. The only collaboration I have in store is an LP with Mr Mensah, Matt Lord & Kaidi
Tatham - but that’s my team anyway.
Your sound and a lot of your musical career has been based out of London, with the Strong Island pirate radio show to the creation of Reinforced Records. How do you think your move to New York has added to your sound and you as an individual?
The only thing NYC has showed me, is that it’s a great place to live apart from the rat population, horrible winters and lip service folk! As for music they have lost their creative magic and edge. London wipes the floor with NYC. I mean this for real, apart from indie bands in Williamsburg who is doing anything really? New York was done by 2002 (my friends say late 90’s). In London we are constantly reinventing and having scenes grow. Maybe I don’t know ‘the right circles’ but right now a London sound system would beat the shit out of a New York one with dubplate innovation. Yes a BIG TALK ME A TALK !
Your new album has some classic elements from your earlier days and definitely has the Dego stamp on it. What was the process in creating the album?
I basically made 50 tracks and picked out the most suitable for an LP. This is not my normal way, I usually make 14 and choose 10. I aimed for a broad range of elements and tempos. I wanted an LP that was never one thing but everything as one!!! I think if I do more LP’s then I will be able to touch on more and give people a better perspective on what I am about and where I am going [musically].
Where did you get the name of the album 'A Wha' Him Deh Pon?' from?
I was born in London but the blood is Jamaican and the title just means “What Is He Up To? Or “What Is He Doing?”
Who are some new artists that you’ve been excited about?
Really into Waajeed’s ESO [Electronic Street Orchestra] project, the Machinedrum EP on Mu, King Midas & Cosmos, Samiyam, Mr. [Kaidi] Tatham, Floating Points, Thundercat, Rockers Society, Taylor McFerrin LP and still listening to my favourite punk rocker Mutsumi (prod Maurice Fulton).
Your collective 2000Black was inspired by Roy Ayers’ lyrics ‘Think About the Future, Think About, Think About, Change’. What do you think in store for your music, and the future of music in general?
I hope the pop market will be more creative musically and people realise how
valuable music really is because now its treated as something of no worth.
Anything else you’d like to let us know?
Hey America - stop calling football soccer!
Laugh Out Loud! Sorry, we WILL!
-Interview by Alex Floro
"The new album is gorgeous and reveals Dego’s profound love for the simple, physical pleasure of a perfect beat, but also his boundless curiosity for reinventing the most sophisticated elements of classic funk and electro. Dego has composed a love letter to the subtle sonic textures of vintage keyboards, the musical intelligence of fusion jazz, and the farthest edges of progressive soul."
A Wha’ Him Deh Pon? features collaborations from Taylor McFerrin, Sharlene Hector, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Nia Andrews and Kaidi Tathum and more.
Have a taste of the first 12” off Dego’s record “Monday Blues”.
DJ Brainchild Mix - “It’s All Over The Place” mix here.
Listen + download an absolutely amazing mix from Dego on BTS Radio from 2006.