Gregg Holmes has been donning his Fingerman identity for over a decade. His Hot Digits Music imprint has been a staple of quality for almost as long.
We met him in Belfast in the notorious Hot Digits lair, discussing his past, present and future. And, of course, the imminent death of Disco.
Where did you begin as a DJ, and what got you started on producing music?
After buying my first set of shitty Soundlabs I graduated in the mid 90’s to my Technics. My original love was for House and Techno (underground stuff like Dave Angel, Wink, French house type stuff) but caught the disco bug from finding the records that sampled my favourite tracks when my Dj partner and I began playing at the legendary Casablanca Jazz Club in Brighton. Lots of crate digging ensued over the years and a certain DJ Greg Wilson caught my ear which led me into the Edit scene. I quickly began playing around on Ableton making simple edits of tracks that were not quantized and sent these around to a few people. Greg Wilson was one of the first supporters that gave me that boost so its all thanks to him really 🙂
Your Hot Digits Music label has been synonymous with quality releases for more than half a decade now. What was your initial philosophy, and has it shifted over the years?
If I wouldn’t play it, I wouldn’t release it is pretty much the criteria. Plus make it DJ friendly. Tracks that are too short drive me mad. You wouldn’t go to a gig and play a radio edit would you? Unless you’re a scratch dj of course (Which I’m definitely not!) I originally started the label as a platform to showcase new talent on the scene. It’s blossomed from there with some big hitters like Dr Packer beginning his career on the label early on. My philosophy is still the same. Push things forward and keep the funk.
“I’ve seen and heard many disco producers and DJs saying that the edit scene has had its day but it always seems to creep back in there somehow!”– Fingerman on the imminent death of Disco
How have you progressed as DJ and artist over the last five years? As an artist your releases have a more distinctive sound. How would you define yourself?
My Dj style is still the same since I first began. Lots of long mixes keeping it fluid, building the tempo as I go. As an Artist I think i’ve found my sound with my remixing and track production. I would love to be able to use new systems but i’ve just stuck with ableton from the start and i’m a bit scared of changing things up as I don’t have much patience. Still it’s nice to receive good feedback from folks so it’s that that keeps me going. I seem to also be upping the tempo all the time bringing out faster material recently 😉
Your sets span multiple genres. What’s been the progression of Fingerman the DJ?
Keep it funky. Always. I play a lot more House now than I used to but there’s so much good stuff flying around I can’t just sit on the fence there!
Do you see yourself distancing the Disco/Edits side of things in the long run? Has Disco edits had its time?
Its hard to tell. I’ve stuck to my guns the last 10 years with this sound because I absolutely love it! I’ve seen and heard many disco producers and DJs saying that the edit scene has had its day but it always seems to creep back in there somehow! It’s the groove that makes you move. I’d rather listen to a good edit than a really bland bit of house or techno any day. There’s some great music in every genre once you wade through all the tat.
“I always try and get a few respected underground producers involved if they are willing to submit but also try and find new blood within the scene.”Fingerman on new blood
Every year since your label’s inception you’ve released an annual compilation, volume six at the beginning of June 2020. Every year you seem to be able to top yourself. Tell us about how the compilation comes to life.
This years one has had some amazing feedback. The artists have really excelled themselves. I always try and get a few respected underground producers involved if they are willing to submit but also try and find new blood within the scene. Having the newbies on board is just as important as having the tried and tested as we were all newbies once upon a time and standing shoulder to shoulder with a producer you admire is a great feeling in itself.
“I think going forward its going to be the small parties that emerge first. This is exciting as more underground less obvious talent will be given the opportunity to rebuild the club scene from the ashes of Covid.”Fingerman on life after COVID-19
Focus has shifted during the COVID-19 crisis. You’ve been one of the artists making the most out of it and turning up the frequency of your live stream performances, where you engage your audience. What are your predictions? Is the scene changed after this?
Haha! The live streaming thing has been funny. Its nice to do something different. Its just that as with most things its become a wee bit saturated. I actually prefer the Mixlr thing as there’s more emphasis on the music. I’m still one of those folks who isn’t fussed about what the DJ looks like and what he’s doing but what music he’s playing. I think going forward its going to be the small parties that emerge first. This is exciting as more underground less obvious talent will be given the opportunity to rebuild the club scene from the ashes of Covid.
Hot Digits seems to be about blurring the lines between genres too. On your Year Six compilation you have everything from deep, slow grooves over to Bossa Nova to House hybrids. Do you see any trends?
I try to always make it as diverse as possible. You don’t want a compilation just filled with wall to wall bangers. I want to include tracks that will stand the test of time if possible too. The compilation also reflects my dj sets I feel… building up from the slower gear to grabbing them by the horns peak time stuff.
What’s upcoming from Hot Digits this summer? Any near future plans?
Tons! New blood Kaiden is dropping a 4 track EP real soon. Dub Disco cosmicness. Also in the pipeline there’s EP’s from Jay Ru (Thats been brewing for a couple of years now!), A follow up from Get Down Edits & Stephen Richards and EP’s from Tonbe, Smashed Atoms, Frank Virgilio and heaps more!
The summer is obviously very different this year. Normally we have big tracks blowing up in Ibiza and splattering across the scene from there. So the bid is open. What are your five track tips to what’s going to blow up track wise this summer?
That’s a tough one especially not being able to road test any of them in a club/bar environment but the tracks that I think have been floating my boat are:
1. Paul Older – Sax Francisco (Fingerman Block Rockin’ Bootleg) (A personal edit of of of Paolo’s biggest edits yet)
2. Hotmood – 3-2 Clav (Seriously one of Hotmood’s finest yet)
3. Chewy Rubs & MOKE – Echo The Love (Tom goes all Prins Thomas on us)
4. Ian Upfold – Night Walking (One of the stand out tunes from Year Six)
5. Dave Leatherman & Bruce Nolan – Put Put On Your Horns (Proper rumpshaker)
And there’s a Fingerman baby on the way! Will Fingerman go Familyman? Obviously Jr. will grow up with a varied diet in music. How about yourself? What do you remember having an imprint on you musically as a kid growing up?
Yeah that’s exciting! Total change for me as it’s my first one! But yeah. It’s gonna be brought up on quality music I reckon. My folks were hippies so they had decent taste back when I was a kid. I just hope it likes Power Ballads 😉
We asked Fingerman to cook up a mixtape with his own favorite tracks and a few unreleased goodies. Here are over two hours of the Creme de la creme of Fingerman, exclusively on Discoholics Anonymous!
Situation Feat Andre Espuet – You’re Not Here (Fingerman Version Excursion)
Dr Packer – We Got The Acid Funk (Fingerman Mo’ Breakin’ Rework)
Kiu D – Good Luck (Fingerman Remix)
Massimo Vanoni – Everybody (Fingerman’s Balearic Beatdown)
Picklejam – Apollo’s Groove (Fingerman’s Version Excursion)
Ewan Hoozami – Freedom (Fingerman’s Unreleased Instrumental)
Kellini – Varighet (Fingerman’s Boogie Beatdown)
Tripmann & Sandro Biachi – The Lament (Fingerman’s Hot Digits Remix)
Jb Dizzy – Rendezvous (Fingerman Remix)
Sundre Berg – How Could Men Be So Blind? (Fingerman Club Mix)
Ooft! – Indy Thinking (Fingerman Rework)
Cuz Electric – Where Is It? (Fingerman’s Acid Beatdown)
C Da Afro – Can’t Get Enough (Fingerman’s Fist Bumpin’ Beatdown)
Chasing Kurt – One Thing (Fingerman’s Boogie Beatdown)
Stephen Richards & Get Down Edits – Beautiful Sisters (Be Strong) (Fingerman Remix)
Andy Buchan – Higher (Fingerman’s Old Skool Rework)
Don Dayglow – Dci 2Ci (Fingerman’s Wobbly Disco Rework)
Lasso D’amore – Backyard Jungle (Fingerman’s Tribal Funk Remix)
Leon Sweet – Sunny Bigler (Fingerman Remix)
Tonbe – Neon Nights (Fingerman’s Acid Trip)