Kevin Sawka, known professionally as KJ, is a producer and DJ, but with a twist. His heroics behind the drum kit has seem him rise to world fame as part of the Pendulum live setup. After a two-year long world tour, he is back in Seattle, ready to drop his own music. His new single, Repeating Cycles, is imminent, and he talks to Kmag about it here.
How does your set up work when producing your own stuff?
I have a small in-the-box production studio in Seattle where I do all my post production and mixing. For most songs, I'll start with some drum ideas from the Sawka Drum Vault. That's my go-to personal loop library with all my chopped drum loops and sessions I've recorded over the years to date in high end Seattle studios. I also produce a ton on the road. Just my laptop and headphones. I'll test the mixes on systems at sound checks then at the show before releases.
When you are writing and producing, do the drums necessarily always come first?
Drums mostly come first. It’s easy to write melodies and basslines with a great groove underneath.
If I don't have the right drums already recorded, then they get recorded last. Nothing better than recording live drums to a finished vocal take. That's when the magic happens!
How does your live experience impact on your d&b work now? Why is that?
It’s easy to see what works and what doesn't work at a live show based off crowd response. With the live drumming it's determined by the type of crowd. The mid to older age crowds really love the live drumming. The kids love the bass and don't seem to care as much about it being played live. So when making a track I'll factor these things to try and meet my production goals as well and live goals. Which is to crush the crowd of all types and at any venue.
Do you hear the music differently depending on whether it’s live or in the box?
Yeah definitely. Live music and mastered audio are apples and oranges. It’s great to see and hear the musicians perform their parts live. I don't care as much about the mix when seeing it live. But in the box it’s all about how it sounds and how the crowd is reacting. Whether its live or in the box, it’s a performance.
Has your production changed over time?
Of course. The evolution of bass music production has gone through the roof in the last 5 years.
My involvement with Pendulum and other bands and musical collaborations gives me constant inspiration to improve and evolve my sound and efforts to make great music.
Give us some of your favourite Pendulum reminiscences.
On one of our European tours we found a random drunk dude passed out in our sound guy’s bunk on our bus. It was a ridiculous situation trying to get him to go away and him even realizing what was going on.
In France, MC Verse got the whole crowd to sing happy birthday to me. That was pretty epic.
And you’ve got a new single coming, featuring one of my personal favourite singers. Tell us all about Repeating Cycles.
About a year ago I reached out on Facebook in search of singers for a bunch of tunes I was writing.
Swiss singer LaMeduza saw my post and replied right away. I went to her Soundcloud page and really liked what I heard. I emailed her and sent her tracks. Within 3 days she sent back the vocal ideas on Repeating Cycles. Until then, I was calling the track Chronicles.
She really gave life to this track. She is one of my favorite singers as well!
LeeFest 2013 Preview
South London LeeFest returns for its eighth edition in July and has also made history by securing its independence by securing £5,000 on Kickstarter.
Teddy Killerz And Jade Talk Violence
The next huge release from Eatbrain features Teddy Killerz. Here, alongside label boss Jade, they break down the Violence EP.
DJ Vapour Guest Mix
More amazing new music for your ears. We chat to DJ Vapour about new music on 36 Hertz and much more. He treats you to a booming guest mix into the bargain.
Symptom Guest Mix
One half of soundsystem killers Savage Rehab, Symptom is a respected producer in his own right. We catch up on all the news from him, including an exclusive mix.
Artist. Musician. Snowboarder. Eveson is all over at the moment, with his unique blend of skills and passion. We speak to him about upcoming live dates, upcoming releases and more.
Antics Records Unveil Collateral Damage
The Antics Records crew are behind a new LP, which has been getting some major support from the big players. We discuss the project with the label right here.
Congo Natty on Outlook and New Album
We caught up with Congo Natty in Spain to discuss this year's Outlook festival and his forthcoming release on Big Dada...
DJ Upzet Guest Mix
Coming at you live and direct from Germany, DJ Upzet talks about his contribution to the scene, and delivers a firing guest mix.
Soulculture Continue To Spread Their Wings
Soulculture seem to be everywhere at the moment. The duo have a load of exciting plans right now, which they explain to Kmag.
Numark iDJ Pro Review
Numark's sleek new controller the iDJ Pro certainly looks the business but how does it perform? We take a closer look...
Youthman Drops Some Bangin Music
No doubt one of the best French producers in the game, Youthman delivers the scorching Bangin Music EP for Under Pressure.
Scientia Continues With The Carbon Remix EP
J-Science's Scientia imprint is embarking on yet another journey with the Carbon Remix EP. We talk to the Science man all about it.
Detail Guest Mix
Ukraine's Detail is part of the new Utopia release. We talk to him about his track right here, and he drops a guest mix on us.
Action Bronson releases Saab Stories EP
Queens rapper Action Bronson releases his new collaboration EP with Harry Fraud, Saab Stories.
Dawn Raid Interview
Manchester crew Dawn Raid are covering all bases of late, with artist releases, their own label and live appearances coming across the board. We caught up with them to find out more.