The birth of our underground brand Factory 93 not only brought on an adrenaline rush reminiscent of the renegade warehouse era of raving—on which Insomniac was founded—but it also had us thinking back to all the people, places and parties that made this whole operation possible. And with that came a burning desire to crack open our collection and dust off the classic records we couldn’t live without. Through our From the Crates series, we break out seminal and obscure cuts alike, imparting some knowledge in the process.
If you were anywhere near the dancefloor in 2001, there was no escaping the global juggernaut called “Spaced Invader.” A merging of high-energy house music and disco, the intergalactic vibes rocketing out of the speakers launched the Toronto-based artist known as Hatiras into that rarefied level of international stardom that continues to shape his legacy to this day.
While we often hear about single tracks elevating artists to the upper echelon of the dance music scene, nothing could have prepared Hatiras for the nerve his tune touched on in a much broader and more global scale. Not only was the tune a huge hit on the underground rave circuit, but it also managed to break through into mainstream radio play across the globe. The resulting media frenzy had Hatiras on a dizzying TV, radio, and press circuit, landed him on a number of European music magazine covers, and won him a coveted Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) and a SOCAN award for most radio play by a dance artist. Internationally, “Spaced Invader” landed in the top 20 of the Billboard music charts in the US and the UK and was being caned by the likes of Erick Morillo, the Chemical Brothers, Danny Tenaglia, Boy George, Darren Emerson, and tastemaker Pete Tong—who gave it his “Essential New Tune” blessing twice alongside A-list radio play on BBC Radio 1.
Even now, one listen to the tune transports you back to the post-millennial rush of hearing it for the first time. With the apocalyptic fears of Y2K a distant memory, the tune seems to harken back to the unbridled optimism of the disco era, not only bringing new-school ravers full circle with the old-school ravers of the 1990s, but also connecting the dots to David Mancuso and the Loft-driven disco and club era before it. Similarly, Hatiras’ own love of drum & bass, techno, funk, disco, and house seemed to find the perfect outlet in the tune, as did his longstanding fascination with anything related to space, science, sci-fi, or aliens.
From the euphoria-inducing EQ sweep of the hook to the expertly timed Atari stabs and grooving beat, the twisted synths at the core made for an anthem that appealed to the local house music tribe and global communities alike. From the get-go, there is something about the tune that pulls you in. While many talk about tunes hitting that drop, there is nothing like the exquisite tease Hatiras pulls off with this one, slowly rising from lo-fi to hi-def, as the power of the white-noise sweep rises and falls through an epic intro that has the dancefloor begging for release throughout. Like its disco forebears, the nearly eight-minute tune doesn’t even introduce the main breakdown until around the five-minute mark. Before that, the dancefloor is treated to an expert push and pull of tension and release as the afterburners fire up and prepare to blast their way through space and time.
When the release finally does come, the bottom drops out, and all the elements come rushing in for a climax that is sure to smash any remaining inhibitions you may still be harboring right out the door before the tune breaks free and your body follows. Snippets of horns, strings, sci-fi future tech, and DJ tricknology merge into an otherworldly surge of adrenaline and dopamine-induced dancefloor fervor that has yet to be matched. The tune still stands on its own from start to finish—but also as an undeniably brilliant tool for DJs to mix to. The long-form nature of the track and preprogrammed EQ sweeps make for a ready-made cut to layer over other tunes.
As with most classics, the tune took on a life of its own beyond the original—as a vocal version featuring Slarta John from Basement Jaxx, alongside a series of high-profile remixes from the likes of Darren Emerson, Ian Pooley, Optical, and High Contrast. The far reach of the tune even spread its legacy to the drum & bass scene, as J. Majik’s disco drum & bass version of the tune has become a genre classic in its own right.
Whether responsible for introducing disco to the drum & bass repertoire or sending shock waves of energetic, spacey disco house through the house music scene, there’s no denying the absolute power this tune had and continues to have to this day. While Hatiras has since released seven albums and more than 400 singles—through imprints including Defected, Ministry of Sound, Sony, Parlophone, and his own Blow Media and Hatrax Records— the legacy of “Spaced Invader” lives on, ensuring his place in the electronic music hall of fame for producing one of the greatest tunes of all time.