HMWL chat to seasoned Scottish producer Robot84 about his latest release ‘Cosmic Accident’ and take a delve into his world

On the latest Robot84 release, producer Scott Ferguson showcases all of the progressive and groove related qualities which have made his records so celebrated and enjoyed across the globe – from the Balearic Isles to the club, and beyond….

Ferguson’s journey in music reads like a glorious mind map of places, spaces and people, with the tale starting off Djing at some of the best nights in Scotland alongside co-owning Defunkt Records in Glasgow. His production career started in early 2000, and after a number of releases under various aliases he released the much celebrated ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome’ edit in 2013, the first release under the ROBOT84 name. The vibe of the ROBOT84 name is that of eclectic Balearic-ness, with Ferguson keen to never stick to one particular style, but as a means of constantly evolving and exploring through music production – akin to the sound he looks to evoke whilst Doing. The joy of Ferguson’s music is that constant convergence of sounds and moods, and this has provided listeners with consistent delight as they dive deeper into his soundscapes. This led to him releasing music with a number of top quality labels, including Secret Life, Nervous, Paper, Is It Balearic and Midnight Riot. In 2019, Ferguson founded the ROBOT84 imprint, with a succession of excellent records coming out the door that further enamoured listeners to his music – as varied, distinct and well crafted as ever.

Off the back of his latest release, ‘Cosmic Accident’  which encapsulates all that makes Fergusons discography so varied, with a significant shift into the realms of House and Disco filled to the brim with groove laden rhythms, inspired vocal samples and emotive melodic overtones we talk to the seasoned scottish producer about his world…

HMWL: Hey Scott, congratulations on releasing ‘Cosmic Accident’, How does it feel?

Really good, the feedback has been superb. It’s quite different for me and very different to my previous release ROBOT84 vs The Raff, so I worried it might go down like a lead balloon! The reception has been brilliant though, I love it myself so I couldn’t be happier.

HMWL: Talk us through the release, What was the inspiration behind it?

Like most of my tunes, there’s a vision that comes from somewhere (I can’t always pinpoint what that is), whether it’s a sample I come across or a loop in a record I’ve always liked, it grows from there. With Cosmic Accident, the vision started with the MLK vocals in mind and from there it was about building an energy to align. I knew it would be a big, memorable sound, something that would work at peak time on a dancefloor as well as at a festival, I reckon I’ve achieved that.

HMWL: Can you describe the connection between your music and your Scottish roots, and how they continue to influence your music today?

My interest in music started in Scotland in the 80s. I’ll never forget that. But I moved to London for the first time when I was only 19 and lived in the middle of Kings Cross, so I was in the thick of the London scene as it was kicking off in the late 80s. But that was a short stint. I then lived in Edinburg, which was where I first cut my teeth as a DJ and later moved to Glasgow and worked in record shops as well as running my own shop, Defunct. It was working in the shops that I learned about sampling and making records through colleagues. I co-owned the shop with Colin Gate (Deep Sensation), and met loads and loads of people during that time and absorbed it all – a lot of those ears are the ones I still go to for feedback and they’re mostly Scottish, so you could say all my music is Scottish at it’s heart!

HMWL: What has been the highlight of your career so far? Can you talk about a specific moment or accomplishment that stands out as particularly meaningful to you?

My name on the same record as the legend Andrew Weatherall as part of the re-release of 101 by

FiniTribe, was a bit of a dream come true moment and not something I ever dared believe possible. Yep, that was and still is a big deal.

Another highlight is getting my tracks played on BBC Radio 1. I can remember being in a mate’s car listening to Pete Tong on a Friday night and saying, “Imagine hearing one of your tracks played on the radio.” It was a dream back then. I’ve now had tunes played by Annie Mac, Nemone, Arielle Free, Monki, Gerd Jansen, Artwork, Nightmares on Wax, and Danny Howard. It’s an amazing feeling.

HMWL: Can you share some insight into your creative process when producing music? Do you have any particular rituals or methods that help you stay inspired?

I get ideas everywhere. I have a little book that I am always scribbling in so I don’t forget things. And these days, I am quite forgetful! I’m quite lucky in that respect, that the initial part of the process flows, and a lot of it is the part that happens in my own head. I also have an idea of who the record will be for, what type of audience, etc. That’s all part of that visualisation process for me. Then once an idea has formed, I think about samples. I’ll find what I’m looking for, and then I play about on my sampler, adding beats and percussion to see what it sounds like. By the time I get into the studio, it’s mostly like piecing together a puzzle. The ideas in the first place come from listening to all sorts of music, new and old. I genuinely love music; it’s a big part of my life so I don’t imagine I could ever not be inspired, and I still have a very large record collection that’s always growing!

HMWL: Can you tell us about any challenges you have faced in your career and how you overcame them? Have there been any specific obstacles or difficulties you’ve had to navigate as an electronic musician?

There are always challenges. Nothing is a straight line. Shit happens all the time.

One of the biggest challenges is even getting people to listen to your music in the first place, and still is, there’s so much music out there and getting your stuff to the right ears isn’t easy. It’s an ongoing part of producing music and it basically means there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff going on before it even gets to the point of general release. I have a network of contacts, all well-respected DJs and producers to whom I send stuff to as an early ‘promo’ experiment for feedback these days, a network that’s been built over many years, but even that doesn’t just guarantee an ‘in’ with anything.

A significant bump in the road for me was when all the record shops started closing around 20 years ago, I had been producing for a few years, and selling vinyl directly to a lot of shops. And then almost overnight I was at a bit of a loss – with a lot of unwanted vinyl to boot! The digital movement hadn’t yet picked pace so I was a bit stuck for a while. It felt like the bottom had completely fallen out from the underground production scene. I was fortunate in the sense that I have always had a full-time job as well so I wasn’t dependent on my music as an income, but that wasn’t really the point – that was a difficult time, and I was gutted. I continued creating, but there was definitely a bit of a lull for a good few years in what I could do with my music.

My biggest challenge, though, was something that happened in my personal life. I had a pretty large stroke on Boxing Day 2022, something I’m still recovering from today. I was quite literally knocked off my feet. After it happened, I wasn’t even sure I’d ever get up the ladder at home to even look at my record collection, never mind stepping foot into a studio, but I am gradually making progress. My reality is that I am now disabled, with no sensation in the whole of my left side and I have various complex cognitive issues, one of which has left me unable to mix records which breaks my heart. But, although my DJing days are on hold for a while there is a bright side because the creative area of my brain has remained unscathed and the experience has probably made me bolder. During this time, music has been a massive lifeline, being able to continue releasing tunes and getting some of the most positive feedback I’ve ever had, has been a great tonic!

HMWL: Which other artists have had a big influence on your sound?

I love so many different forms of music. Disco, Soul, Techno, House to Hip Hop and Reggae – I am fuelled by all those genres. Over the years artists like Carl Craig, Masters at Work, Mad Mike, Walter Gibbons, Patrick Adams and Arthur Russell, have all left their mark on me. The more current creators I look up to are definintely the likes of Gerd Jansen, Metro Area, Ashley Beedle, Francois K and The Idjut Boys.

● Gerd Jansen is a true standout in modern times, he’s always ahead of the game, I have a lot of respect for him. He has great vision, his productions are always excellent and a really nice guy.

● That masterful fusion of disco and house by New York duo, Metro Area, has left a definite lasting effect on my sound. Their sounds are timeless. To create something timeless is always what I aspire to do.

● Ashley Beedle – His sound and productions are always spot on, he’s very ‘across the board’ musicially, which I love.

● Francois K has always been a big influence.To be honest, I could write a whole page about him. He’s a living legend and his productions and remixes are always so, so good!

● The Idjut Boys and their kind of dubbed out disco vibe is a sound that I adore and they make it their own. I remember coming across an early production of theirs years ago whilst working in a record shop in Glasgow. It really struck a chord, like I’d stumbled across exactly the kind of vibe I wanted to be able to create myself.

HMWL: What advice would you give to aspiring musicians trying to make it in the industry? Are there any particular tips or strategies you’ve found to be particularly effective in building a career as an electronic musician?

Work hard. I know it sounds basic, but you just have to. As long as you love what you do that shouldn’t be a problem, so stick with it and keep plugging away, keep knocking on doors, keep looking for feedback. You have to be able to take knockbacks and criticism. It is all part of the game, I’ve had plenty over the years, but I’ve learned to take it on the chin. If you want it enough and are compelled to create, follow your gut. It matters what people think, but what I’ve learned also is, trusting in myself and sometimes good old perseverance is key. I suppose it’s a balance of learning from others while being true to yourself.

Timing is everything. What I mean by this is sometimes it just might not be the right time for something. I have been creating and producing for many years and some of my tunes and edits come together quickly. Whereas others have sat in the vaults for many years, for whatever reason. True story – one of my recently released edits was a project I actually started 20 years ago!

In terms of processes or strategies, I think you work these out as you go along. Stay true to yourself, listen, learn and don’t give up! Not every track is your best track, and that’s ok.

HMWL: What’s next for you?

I have a few things in the pipeline, another vinyl release and some other projects that I’m not quite ready to talk about, but I’ll share all soon.

Aside from that, my health is the priority. My days are currently filled with physio and rehab, and thankfully working on ROBOT84 fits in with that and helps to no end.


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