July 26, 2016
Canada’s thriving electronic music culture is sustained by artists dedicated to a variety of unique sounds. Ranging from Niagara Falls native deadmau5 to Kelowna’s Excision, Canada has made significant contributions from coast to coast to the rise of many different types of electronic music, and we continue to do so with artists like HomeSick (or Shaun McHale)—a talent who has dedicated himself to the fortification of the footwork community.
Though he evolved from a different moniker (Lodestar Supernumerary), McHale solidified his persona in 2013 with HomeSick. His beginnings are rooted deeply in the wildest jungle and breakcore he could find, but McHale refined his sound over years of involving himself with multiple electronic scenes in Calgary. Over the years the essence of McHale’s music has always been strange and intense with fast BPM’s and untameable drums and snares, which are his main trademarks. With track releases across North America, Asia, Australia, and the UK, he now works on expanding his sound by exploring the slower BPMs while still retaining the madness in his music.
Growing to become even more widely involved in his various communities, McHale found himself inducted into the Red Bull Music Academy, which would act as a springboard for his career. His commitment to the development of himself and the global footwork jungle community is a force to be reckoned with, and he has dedicated himself to spreading his sound across the world.
Since 1998, the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA), has facilitated constant growth in the music industry with worldwide activities—from lectures and festivals to workshops—including their annual workshop that McHale was fortunate enough to attend. Self-described as “a global music institution committed to fostering creativity in music,” RBMA selects artists from a variety of countries to come together and learn techniques from seasoned producers. Alumni include Om Unit, who had initially introduced McHale to the footwork sound; Aloe Blacc, the internationally recognized artist behind the popular radio hits “I Need a Dollar” and “The Man“; and Flying Lotus, whose label Brainfeeder represents a plethora of different artists.
Attending RBMA proved to be an immersive and unique experience, and one that McHale remembers as “the most creatively satisfying two weeks of my life.” After facing the initial anxiety that comes along with being thrown in with a bunch of new people, McHale found himself paired with a down to earth group of peers, enveloped in an environment brimming with knowledge and mentorship from his heroes.
“It was not unusual to be visited in a studio session by Detroit techno legend Mike Banks, giving you new techniques to get the most out of your mixdown, or Berlin IDM duo Modeselektor teaching you how to operate the TR-808,” McHale reminisced. RBMA participants Corey K, Mulherin, and HomeSick even partnered with ‘Mad’ Mike Banks, Sheila E, and Just Blaze to create the track “Just Fine.”
Three years ago, HomeSick created the Footwork Jungle blog. Inspired by Om Unit’s footwork edits of classic jungle tunes (his initial contact for a new lifelong obsession), McHale desired to give his colleagues a platform to market their music. These days, the blog posts a popular Exclusive Mix Series and compilations such as Fire Hazard and Rave2.0 that McHale will often curate and create art for.
Now, in addition to his emerging blog, he partners with Cherriep of Philthkids, and Michael Benz from the Noctilux Collective of Calgary, to produce Percolate. This Canada-wide footwork event gives McHale a reprieve from the days of having to sneak his footwork passion into the sets he played at bass music and breakcore nights. McHale has since “banished his fears that he was alone in his obsession,” proving to the world one step at a time that footwork jungle is a sound that should be catching your ear.
Surrounding himself with the inspiration of his friends worldwide and in online communities, McHale continues to grow the HomeSick brand. In more humble beginnings, he recalls his Dutch friend J(ay).A.D and himself were some of the first artists on the Ground Mass Music imprint, releasing compilations every month. Now this same colleague of his is being supported by artists as well-known as Bjork.
McHale looks forward to many forthcoming successes on the horizon—his sound has reached many different corners of the earth, a realization he made when he saw a blog post from Brazil that elaborately detailed his music career. Fresh from appearances across the world, including Sónar Festival in Barcelona, and consistently keeping his fan’s interest with new releases and videos on his social media, this Canadian artist is dedicated to making his mark on the footwork genre.
No matter what city he’s in, the strange looks he gets carrying a guitar and an amplifier into the club bring a smile to his face. Fortunately for us, the weird, wild mind behind the music of HomeSick continues to bring together communities from across the world.