With a new EP out featuring Virus Syndicate, Foreign Beggars, Starkey and Noah D, it's safe to say that things are going pretty well for Son Of Kick right now. Here he muses on records past, playing "live" and why this is but one step on the road to where he wants to be...
You're just about to drop your new EP. What would you say is the style of the record?
As always with me, I guess it’s quite hybrid. I posted a short preview of it today and someone called it grimestep [laughs].
In terms of the link-up with Virus Syndicate, how did that one get set in motion?
Matt [his manager] got in touch with them and then one morning I was in Lithuania catching a flight at seven o’clock in the morning and they Tweeted me just to say “what up?” and we started chatting from there.
Do you see it as a working relationship you’d like to continue in the future?
Yeah, I hope so. I’ve only really spoken to Nika D who is just one of them. I know they’re all really cool but me and him have chatted quite a lot and on a human level, he’s pretty deep, he’s pretty cool. That’s the main thing for me when working with people.
How about the production of the track? Did you all come together at any point or was it all very much done remotely?
No. Parts of that track were actually made for something else originally. It was actually made for Foreign Beggars but DJ No Names kinda got me into thinking it wasn’t any good! He heard it again later, once it was all kind of put together, and he was like “Fuckkk!” That’s why I don’t listen to him anymore [laughs].
On the subject of Foreign Beggars in general, would you perhaps like to work on something a little more expansive with them?
With those guys it’s a different thing. We’re friends and we know where we are… I mean there’s a lot of work to be done. There’s another track in the studio that is pretty much there; I just need to finish the production on that. It’s a good tune, so we’ll just have to see where it goes…
Coming back to the record for a second, the overall package is quite different despite it just being one original tune and then remixes. As a prolific remixer yourself, how much input do you have on what other producers are going to do with your work?
I’m really picky when it comes to who’s going to remix the tracks because I want to have things that are quite diverse on the EP, especially as it’s only one track. Lets say for example that it was a dubstep tune: I don’t just want three dubstep remixes because it just means nothing. Starkey we kinda knew where he was going to take it and he did. We kind of pushed Noah D to do a drum and bass remix but he was a bit hesitant. Eventually he did a jungle remix and it's just great.
Was jungle something you were into when you were younger?
Yeah I was. Congo Natty, Zinc, everybody…
What about your other formative music experiences? What else were you into?
Honestly everything. Gothic 80s post-punk, hip hop, The Smiths…
How about growing up in France? Were you aware of UK bass music at all?
I don’t think anyone in the world was aware of UK bass music at that time…
I mean more UK bass culture, soundsystem culture…
Soundsystem culture in France was more about breakcore, hardcore and techno. There were some junglists already but it wasn’t massive in the same way [as the UK].
What about now? What’s the dance music culture like?
Oh yeah, it’s everywhere. Bass music in France is massive; the awareness is really big.
Even for things like grime and dubstep?
Yeah, this year in particular has seen it really blow up.
You mean homegrown artists or mainly UK?
It’s mainly UK stuff. The only top grime people I know in France are PMP DJ, Grems and Entek. They’re really the ones leading the grime scene in France.
Is there much of a scene? Are there specific nights?
It’s more called hybrid than grime. People will be like “eh, this is weird…” but it’s grime really. It’s heavy… that’s why they work with Beggars and other people, they’re leading.
Do you think that the variable nature of your background, both musically and personally, has directly influenced the music you make? You have a very different sounding style to a lot of other UK-based producers who make similar types of music…
I think it was always a problem of diversity with me. The music that I made was always cast aside for years, like “this doesn’t fit here, this doesn’t fit here…” and now it fits because everyone listens to everything. So yeah, I think you can definitely hear it in my music. Even one track after the other doesn’t sound the same at all.
How connected to the French scene do you feel? You’ve obviously worked with a few French MCs before…
I’m not so connected with the French scene to be honest – that’s why it says UK in brackets on the flyers because I’m from here, you know?
So how did those relationships with French musicians come about then?
I met them here, in London.
On the subject of vocalists, I think a lot of the people you use on tracks are quite leftfield. Take Natalie Clavier, for example. She doesn’t seem like she’d usually work on a track like Gaucha. How did that collaboration come to be?
Natalia was at one time looking for remixes and I got asked to do one. I did what would turn into Gaucha; that tune was actually a remix I made for her but the label turned round and were like “What is this?” and they dropped the remix. Well I told her that I’d have the track and get some MCs and we’d do a whole different thing – that’s how it became my track.
Was she instrumental in getting you to work on it originally then?
She loved it. Her and her husband, Federico Aubele, who I’d remixed before, Skyped me as soon as they’d heard it and were like headbanging around the room and saying “we love it, we love it!” They were really disappointed when it got dropped. But then I think the fact that we released it, and had a great video for it, perhaps made it even bigger than what she would have done before anyway.
Back when we last spoke to you in 2010, you were about to drop the debut release on your own imprint, Way Way. What happened with the label?
The label is still here; it just happened that in the meantime we had Muti from San Francisco that got in between, which is a great label, and I wanted to drop an EP with them and then Guacha was picked by a German label and we just kind of went with that. At the back of my mind I am always thinking that I should drop stuff on my label. But it will; that’s something that’ll definitely happen in the future.
Have you ever wanted to explore something longer than an EP?
Yeah, I really want to do an album.
Would you want to put that out on your own label so you could keep artistic control?
I think we have pretty much control of the music anyway. If anyone turns around and says “oh, you’ve got to change this snare” or “this is too like this”, I’m out.
Does that happen often?
Never. It’s not like it’s a major label and you have the £100,000 advance and you just go in the corner and shut your mouth. It’s just not like that.
Moving on to the subject of your live show…
Which live show are you talking about?
I mean the one with the drummer…
We’ve actually just started that.
What was your live show before that like then?
Well that’s the thing. They call it “live” but for me it’s… I use Ableton, controllers, I chop things up… it’s more half and half, really. It’s that grey area where you’re not too sure what to call it. It’s not DJing and it’s not live… I don’t really like it being called that and I tend to tell promoters not to put “live” in brackets. I still think it’s more live than DJing. I come from turntablism originally, though. Scratching, cutting…
Is that something you’d consider re-incorporating?
No, not really. I find it kind of tacky…
Do you try and represent everything in the shows or is it a little more rigid than that?
It’s all sorts. It goes through every type of music…
Is it all your own productions?
No, because again I would find that boring. I love playing other people’s music - I think it makes the show a lot more dynamic. Unless it’s properly live, like the stuff we’re doing with the drummer - that's all Son Of Kick stuff. But generally I like to play all kinds of music. Hip hop, moonbahthon, dubstep, punk, pop… I just drop anything. From weird David Bowie a capellas to Method Man… really anything.
I mean that’s interesting because it is pretty much turntablism in its finished product…
That’s how I used to DJ. I think it’s a natural movement forward. I would basically just describe the shows as having a lot of energy to them, which is essential to what I do.
What about where you like to play? Any places stick out as particularly memorable?
Weirdly enough, I think France has recently become my favourite place to play. I guess maybe because I’ve got a bigger fan base there and the last few shows I’ve done have been pretty amazing. For example, I recently played in Bordeaux and it was just unbelievable.
Is this a recent development for you or have you played France a lot?
Yeah, I’ve played France quite a bit. But there are others… I mean Poland is brilliant, Spain is great…
What about the UK?
I don’t really get gigs in the UK. I think it’s to do with fan base and the kind of music that I play, which doesn’t really fit any sort of event here. If it were a dubstep night, you’d be surprised to hear me - I play dubstep, but I play everything.
What’s next for you? Release more on other labels or on your own imprint?
There are no labels in particular [that I want to release on]. At the moment it’s more about just doing the music and feeling really good with it. There are some artists I really want to work with and hopefully that’s going to happen at some point.
Anyone in particular you can mention?
I don’t think I should say names…
What kind of genre? MCs?
Not just… all sorts, really. There are dreams you know? [laughs] I could drop people’s names that I’d probably never get. I mean I’d love to work with Tom Waits and shit like that… Fiona Apple…
Would you like to produce for other people away from the Son Of Kick moniker then?
Yeah I’d love to. The only people I produce at the moment are people in France, like mainly rappers. No one in the pop world and that’s pretty much where I wanna go. To go back to the Beggars thing, I’d love to do a couple of tunes with them like that, kind of hitting the more pop areas. Like UK, urban pop stuff…
Words: Jet Vevers
The EOW EP is out now on SMOG records and can be purchased here.
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