The big man is back! New music, new label, new sounds…
Hi Kissy – great to have you back! It’s been a while since we last spoke to you, what’s been happening?
I’ve been busy starting up my new label Stepper Man this year, plus I’ve been working on new tunes most days when not out DJing. It’s been incredibly time-consuming starting a new label from scratch, but it feels invigorating to be releasing so many new vibes and going a bit underground again. I’ve also been working with Sonic Academy and Loopmasters with music production guides and sample packs which is something I’ve really enjoyed doing.
How does the experience of setting Stepper Man up compare to running your previous label? Have you had to approach things from a different angle?
I guess it’s funny starting a new label now when absolutely everything is digital and online. With my previous label San City High, there was a lot of print-advertising and physical products I had to manage, but the success of Stepper Man has been more down to viral videos of each release on social media and word-of-mouth between tastemaker DJs. Never holding a CD or a vinyl in your hands when releasing tunes is a little bit weird, but the speed at which each release can be lined up is an exciting feeling.
Where are you hoping to take the label?
San City High had such a huge list of notable player passing through at some point. I had Laidback Luke, Huxley, Jack Beats, Zeds Dead, Hybrid Theory, Hatcha, Dillon Francis, Nu Era, Conducta, Tom Piper, Hervé and many more producers contributing ideas all the time, but as each music scene ebbed and flowed over the years it meant that the label itself wasn’t very genre specific. Stepper Man is more about playing a part in the garage house & bass scenes of the UK – the sounds represent what’s coming out of the melting pot of UK dance music right now. I think that as the releases keep coming, a picture is continually building of what Stepper Man actually sounds like as a collective.
How would you describe the Kissy Sell Out sound for 2017?
The golden question huh! I guess “house & bass” suites me quite well at the moment. I have been a long-time supporter of the bassline sounds coming from the UK underground, in particular in the midlands area, so half of me likes to let rip with the darkness but I still keep a bounce going with garage house flavours whenever I play or make my own records. I have a very dark bassline tune coming out soon on Illegal Bass called “Super Tough” which is a new sound I’ve been flexing since my remix for Gettoblaster earlier this year. Can’t wait for that to officially come out as it’s one of those dancefloor destroying bass-drops I never leave home without these days.
I’ve always liked to spin lots of different plates with my musical output. No one gets bored quicker than I do, so I have to have that giddy excitement in my heart in order to keep pushing on and trying new things.
It’s got to be said, your bio is pretty stacked for a DJ – how have you kept your career so diverse and varied?
I’ve always treated every day in my career as if might be the last. I think it’s as simple as that really. I do actually forget how many mad things I’ve done over the years, like composing music for the 2012 Olympics, or debating against Stephen Fry at Cambridge University. I guess the amount of passion I have injected into everything I do can be a double-edged sword at times though, because I often truly care so much that it’s as disappointing when something doesn’t work as it is exhilarating when something goes well.
I’m proud of everything I’ve done over the last decade, but there have definitely been points when I wished I’d been a little less busy, so I could’ve enjoyed things more in the moment. When you are situations like getting a helicopter to Glastonbury, it sounds super glamorous, but I mostly remember just feeling travel sick as I’d slept so little from DJing the previous night in Belgium, and a bit sad that the following night’s booking clashed with my Uncle’s 60th birthday party, which my whole family went to apart from me!
You’ve probably ticked off quite a few things from your bucket list already, is there anything else that you have your sights set on still?
I’m 33 now, and I was only 21 when my career really started to take-off, so there are a few things I wish I could go back and do again with all the experience I’ve gained now. In particular, I wouldn’t mind doing some more TV presenting, simply because I’m much less shy than I used to be, and after all the embarrassing and ridiculous things that have happened to me over the years, I’m good at laughing at myself and better at interviewing people than I used to be when I was working for the BBC. I’ve been talking to a film producer about working on a documentary about growing up with ADHD, but it’s still early days.I’ve also nearly finished my second degree in astrophysics and quantum mechanics, which I’ve been doing part-time for many years now, so it’ll be nice when I don’t have to worry about planning experiments with other students on Skype in-between DJ gigs for once!
Your career in dance music has spanned more than a decade now, what would you say is the biggest change that you’ve seen in that time?
To be honest, it’s the money writers and producers make now that is a pretty dire situation. In short, most don’t earn anything! I put music out fundamentally as content to drive my DJ appearances – so DJing is how I pay the bills – but if you are just a writer or a producer now, it is almost impossible to get into it as a serious profession. I’m very lucky to make and play music for a living – as is anyone – but music isn’t free.
What would your biggest piece of advice to anyone starting out in dance music be?
Don’t copy anyone! Do something fresh, do something passionate and – if you have what it takes – your talent will shine through.
And finally, what should we be keeping an eye out for over the next few months?
Next on my list is a remix of 80s act Mel & Kim which should be fun. I also have a sample pack for Loopmasters coming out with lots of Kissy-style samples to pick and choose from. So as usual, onwards and upwards I guess!
Thanks for the questions!
Kissy x x x