Big Miz— aka Christopher McFarlane—has come into his own as one of the UK’s most exciting rising talents. While he’s been steadily releasing music for nearly ten years, he’s achieved recent acclaim through a slew of notable appearances on labels like Nervous, Knee Deep In Sound, Toolroom, and Defected and a notable 2020 remix of Hot Since 82’s “Rules.” His sound is rooted more in classic soul and funk than anything. McFarlane takes all the best of the sound of a bygone era and injects it with his own modern flair.
He initially released music under Medders, which he thought was “edgy and cool when [he] was younger.”
“My friends just shortened that to Miz,” he said, “And they would call me ‘Big Miz.’ ” And then when I got my first record out. I wanted to get a fresh start because I had been making music since I was like 14, and I just thought, ‘Why not just use Big Miz?’”
Music was always in the blood for Miz. He played the drums in bands starting at 14. “My friends and I used to play a lot of pop punk covers and screamo music and stuff like that,” he said. “The first band I was in was called Sugar Rush, and then I was in another one called Autumnsun.”
He naturally fell into being a DJ over the years. “It happened quite organically,” he said. “Me and my friends used to go out to clubs, and we were buying records because we liked the music, and we were thinking how could we get to DJ-ing clubs.”
They decided the best way to go about it was to start their own club night. Then, if they booked other DJs, they could warm-up for them.
“I was just doing it for fun for a lot of years, and then eventually started getting offers for shows.” He eventually made a connection that allowed him to release a record through Dixon Avenue Basement Jams in 2015, paving the way for a career as a [producer.
“After I got that first record ou and started using the name Big Miz, it just so happened at the same time they were doing a Boiler Room at the Sub Club [in Glasgow].” That set in 2015 was his first major gig and a steppingstone for a serious career as a DJ. He returned to the Boiler Room decks again in 2019 and has played all over Europe and Asia.
Being an experienced drummer has undoubtedly influenced how Miz goes about his sets. “I spend a lot of time worrying about the drums and how they feel and how each drum part is playing off each other.”
When it comes to selecting tracks for his winding eclectic DJ sets, Miz says that it is all about the vibe of the night. “I just try and feed off the crowd and pick the tracks in the moment,” Miz explained.
However, when he’s not DJing, you’ll rarely catch Miz listening to dance music. His listening habits are a window into how he seeks inspiration for his music.
“I like old soul music and jazz and a lot of Irish and Scottish folk music,” he said. “I find myself kind of having to force myself to listen to new, current dance music, rather than just going back to the stuff that I know and love. I love Sam Cooke and Amy Winehouse.”
Surprisingly his biggest inspiration, though, is Billy Joel. “I feel I owe a lot of my musical education to [him]. That was like the soundtrack to my life growing up.” His favorite Billy Joel track? “The River of Dreams.” The love of music runs in his family, as well, and Miz’s father had seven brothers, all of whom are “slightly musical.”
“Some of them play the pennywhistle. My dad can play the drums, my granddad used to play the drums in a wedding band when he was younger, as well. So it kind of runs in the family a bit.” His parents assisted with Miz’s musical interests as a kid, too, getting him his first drum set and keyboard to pursue his passion.
During the pandemic, Miz kept busy by producing remixes for other artists, but now that the club scene is getting back to normal, he has some exciting projects on the horizon. His recent self-released EP Flashbang that he says are “five proper, dance floor tracks.”
He emphasizes the word “melodic” when describing his sound, “These tracks I’m putting out are a bit of heavier more kind of club-driven more drum-focused and stuff, but definitely with that melodic, fun feel to them.”
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