Since its formation in the early months of 1997, Glasgow Underground has cemented its place as a destination for new and diynamic House Music.
With a discography that spans countless releases from the likes of Mateo & Matos, Romanthony, Dixon, Omid 16b, Grum, Daniel Ibbetson, and more, the Scottish imprint remains a place unlike any other in the vast spectrum of UK based imprints. Here, its co founder, and established artist in his own right, Kevin McKay walks us through 15 of the labels most seminal releases. This comes ahead of “The Sound of Glasgow Underground,” a various artists compilation featuring new work from JD Twitch, Hammer, Ceol, and more, which is now available.
What are some of your favorite Glasgow Underground tracks?
01. Neon Heights – Are We Thru (Larry Heard Underground Vibe Mix) 
Mr. Fingers’ productions were rare in the early 00s. I’m not quite sure why. To me he was a proper legend and I was delighted to have him on the label. I’m also really happy that his work is now viewed with the same reverence I had for him then. However, for some reason, in 2001 the idea of getting one of the house music originators to do some remixes for you was really unusual. Here he takes Neon Heights indie-ish ‘Are We Thru’ on a spooky journey through oddball chords and shimmering electronics. It is an absolutely sunning remix and typifies everything I love about Larry Heard; how he has managed to avoid fame, stardom and platinum albums is a complete mystery to me.
02. Jori Hulkkonen – Let Me Love U (Muzique Tropique’s In Love Remix) 
Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen was a good friend of ours back in the day and I loved this track of his so much I persuaded his label, F Communication, to let me remix it and release it. Jori’s version is perfect end-of-the-night deep house but I wanted something I could play mid set and so Andy Carrick and I created this more rolling, loopy version.
03. Daniel Trim – Novi (Oxia Remix) 
Daniel Trim is easily the most interesting and innovative artist I’ve worked with on the label. His music is the perfect blend of compositional skill and dance-floor sensibility with an added lightness of touch on the production that is sometimes breathtaking. His original version of “Novi” is a fantastic piece of music but it is – if I am honest – only going to set fire to an incredibly select few floors. Enter French DJ/producer legend Oxia who turns in a version that is much more DJ friendly and hopefully turned a few heads in Daniel’s direction.
04. Muzique Tropique – Stella Sunday (Original Mix) 
Originally released on Junior Boys Own’s Jus’ Trax imprint, “Stella Sunday” is another one I made with my then studio partner Andy Carrick. It’s about hanging about with your mates having a few beers to start the party again after the Saturday night before.
05. Daniel Trim – O Day (Original Mix) 
I was sitting in the Glasgow Underground office one day and Sarah (Grum’s manager, who sat opposite me) sent me this video of Sasha playing at Warung…
After months of searching I finally tracked down the man who made it. It was Daniel Trim. He would go on to be one of the most released artists on the label and hopefully people see him like I do, like a Paul Kalkbrenner or Nick Curly… but with that Iberian sense of how to make a party feel sun-kissed – even in the middle of winter.
06. Kevin McKay & Andy MacDougall – Can’t Help It (Original Mix) 
Andy MacDougall makes very respected Trance & Progressive House records as Trilucid for the likes of Perfecto, Black Hole, Zerothree and his own Infrasonic label. He also is a brilliant mix engineer (and sometime producer of well-known DJs house records). I met him when he mixed a few of my productions back in 2015 and we hit it off so well in the studio we started making some house tracks together. This is one of my favourite things I’ve ever done – simple and hypnotic with Andy’s brilliance on the bassline in full effect.
07. Grum – Sunday Blue Sky (Petar Dundov Remix) 
Here we have two of my favourite artists on one track – how could this not be in my playlist!? Grum is the man who locks you in with the most irresistible rhythm and then controls your heartstrings with waves of heavenly chords and dreamy melodies. Petar Dundov is the epitome of analogue coolness in the studio. And together they deliver the kind of record that just works. What a tune.
08. Climbers – Feel Love (Kevin McKay Remix) 
At the height of the deep house revival back in 2012, Climbers’ “Equal Responsibility” was never off my stereo. That and “Hypnotic Vision” had such a gentle, mesmerising feel to them, how could you not love them? Here I have taken their GU single “Feel Good” and given it an elongated workout that hopefully fits between Sasha’ deep progressive and Dennis Cruz’s late-night tech.
09. Grum – Reflections (Original Mix) 
I signed Graeme in 2008 and in the beginning he wasn’t right for Glasgow Underground so I set up a sub-label, Heartbeats, for him. By his second album there were loads of his tracks I’d have released on GU (“The Theme”, “Everytime”, “Tears”) and so when this demo appeared that Anjuna didn’t fancy but I got in the studio with him and helped make it into our biggest selling record of 2017.
10. Muzique Tropique – Kingston (Two Lone Swordsmen Remix)
Before Glasgow Underground I had a label called Muzique Tropique that released the music I made with Andy Carrick. After that label finished, I had the catalogue remixed by some friends of mine/people I had DJ-ed with and made an album out of it. I managed to get all my favourite producers at the time involved (apart from Mood II Swing and Masters at Work because I was too scared to ask!). One of the biggest supporters of Muzique Tropique and early GU was Andy Weatherall. I was so happy when he agreed to do a swap mix. I had been such a massive fan of Andy’s records (“Loaded” & “Come Together”, “The World According To Sly & Lovechild”, “Soon” etc) that I couldn’t quite believe it was happening. I remember picking him from Glasgow airport when we booked him to play the club I ran. I was so excited and was playing him some new music I’d made. I’m not sure how great it sounded in my rubbish car with its shit sound-system. In fact I think its fair to say that all Andy could make out (over my constant jabbering) was how I’d programmed the hi-hats. Thankfully hey took my nerdish enthusiasm with the good grace he took just about everything we threw at him and I’m very proud he still supports our records today. For me, this is up there with his Deanne Day records as one of the best deep house cuts he made.
11. Grum – The Theme (Original Mix) 
When Grum started out his first supporters came from the blogosphere. I remember clearly how disdainful a lot of DJs were of the music that was supported like that online. I got the feeling that a lot of DJs thought that unless music was released on “proper” labels that it just didn’t deserve any respect. Because of this, when Grum moved on from his 80s and electro influences I remember coming up against some resistance from club DJs who were suspicious of this previous blog-friendly artist making “proper” club music. Thankfully there are DJs like Solomon, who couldn’t give two hoots about such snobbery. He played this at almost every gig that summer and slowly but surely the tide turned for Grum. I’m so proud of him that he (and his manager) stuck by their guns and its great to see him doing so well today on a label like Anjuna.
12. Illyus & Barrientos – Touch My Mind (Original Mix) 
I couldn’t do a GU all time 10 without 1 from these lads. They were making music separately until I virtually forced them in the studio together and now they are smashing the Beatport charts on labels like Defected. This is one of many favourites of mine they did for GU.
13. Kevin McKay – The Oooh Song (Original Mix) 
This Traxsource #1 has easily been my most successful track I’ve made since I was producing Mylo & Linus Loves. It still puts a smile on my face and – after being in a dark place for a while and not really making records with any real love – I was so happy to be back in the groove and to have the records I made appreciated again by DJs.
14. Mateo & Matos – The Real Thing (Kevin McKay’s Heavy Dub) 
The original of this was a collaboration between Mateo & Matos and KOT with the KOT guys producing the original vocal. Before I did this mix, I had been learning about dub from the Idjut Boys and was inspired to deliver this drum heavy, dubbed-out vocal & percussion workout that was caned by Matthias Tanzmann and perfect for the early days at Panorama Bar.
15. Romanthony – The Wanderer (CD#9 Remix) 
I re-issued this on Glasgow Underground in 2011 but the original came out on Chez Damier’s Prescription Underground label in 1994. It is Romanthony at his enigmatic best – wondrous guitars, killer groove and his awesome Prince-like vocals. What is not to like!?