Kevin Knapp Interview
From Louisville to Berlin, Kevin Knapp takes us on a trip through his past ahead of his Friday 13th appearance
Singer, DJ and producer, US-born, Berlin-based Kevin Knapp has more strings to his bow than a Lanister army (and he always pays his debts). Breaking through with his 2012 Audiojack collaboration 'Stay Glued' – remixed to perfection by FCL – these days he's part of the unbeatable Hot Creations crew.
Playing alongside Mat.Joe for Egg Presents this Friday 13th, you can hear him for free by joining our guest list, details here. Ahead of this appearance, we found more about his back story and what to expect from his set this weekend...
You were born in Texas but grew up in San Francisco. How did each city shape you musically?
“Actually, I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but the two places I’ve lived longest in my life are Austin, Texas and San Francisco, California. Those two towns influenced me musically in very different ways. I was living in Austin during college in the mid-'90s and Texas is very much a rock’n’roll state, especially back then. So I grew up on a steady diet of indie rock when I was there, which definitely still contributes to my perspective today in terms of my love for moody, minor key music. I also was listening to loads of hip-hop at that time whose influence I also think can be heard in my productions and vocal projects still today.
“San Francisco in 2000 was the beginning of my journey into electronic music. Sure, I think I had an Aphrodite or Goldie CD or two but I’d yet to really immerse myself in the scene as a whole. There were a couple of key DJs from the SF scene who used to host a party at a happy hour on a Wednesday night that just absolutely went off. I was studying law at the time (yes, I was a lawyer in a previous life) but the attraction to the creativity bursting out of this place was just too much for me to ignore. And that’s kinda how it all started for me.”
When and why did you make the move to Berlin? Has settling been there the catalyst for your career really taking off?
“The move to Berlin was three years
ago today actually! May 2013. I just felt like I could see the next
ten years of my life in the industry if I stayed in San Francisco
doing the local big act opening, but also headlining underground DJ
thing. I knew this was something I wanted to do full time so I just
figured I need to come to where the industry was most prominent to
generate more opportunities and that’s how I ended up in the B. I’d
say being in Berlin was a major turning point in my career, as was
the release of 'Stay Glued' back in 2012.”
Hot Creations is one of the defining labels of our era. How did you get involved with Jamie and Lee's house of fun?
“Ha ha, I’m often asked this. Like
many things in life, things just happen based on what kind of support
network you have and who you know (who your homies are). I met Lee
back at Avalon LA in like 2007 or 2008, so a few years before Hot
Creations launched for sure. We were both California DJs who were
hustling and shared a bunch of common friends so our meeting was
merely a matter of time I reckon.
“JJ and I met for the first time in 2012 at DEMF at the Old Miami in Detroit. I think I probably scared the shit out of him by running up and being like, 'You know me? My beat will control?' I think I could have been a bit smoother on the approach, ha ha. But over the years we’ve become friends and he’s supported more and more of my music, playing my tracks on Boiler Room, signing my music, putting my music on Mixmag compilations, booking me for Paradise and more. I don’t know, just all a natural, organic evolution I guess."
Which came first, the singing, the
DJing or the production? Did you set out to become the modern day
house Renaissance man?
“The order is: singing, DJing, production. I started singing, classically actually, at age 12, then all through high school and a bit of university. I got my first pair of Technics in 2001. And my first studio sessions for collaborative projects started back in like 2007 or so, I guess. Renaissance? Ha, no. Consumed and freakishly obsessed? Likely.”
You've just released a collaboration with Sacha Robotti and your own EP on Material. What else have do you have coming up in terms of releases? How's your summer looking for gigs?
“I’ve got another solo EP in the bag that has just been signed, we’re just dealing with a few edits on the third track. That will come out in the fall this year. I’m currently working on a remix for Cuartero for Sanity Records and plan on getting back into the studio next week to start work on my next solo EP hopefully on Hot Creations. Again, time will tell!
“My gig schedule has gotten stronger every year that I’ve been in Europe and this summer is fortunately following that trend. Belgium, Germany, the UK and Spain are all places you can find me bumpin’ this summer. So get on that shit!”
Can you tell us three tracks that encapsulate what we can expect from your set at Egg?