Kelvin 373 Interview with Junglist Network
We Chat to Kelvin 373 about Jungle, Vinyl, special requests, Born on Road and more…….
What was the first piece of vinyl you ever brought?
So… I started my vinyl collection with a 7inch copy of “Police Officer” by Smiley Culture. I picked it up when I was around 14 years old at a second hand record store on Kentish Town High Street. After that I was given a stack of breakbeat records that I used to play at 45rpm so that they sounded like jungle. My first DnB records were Bad Company ‘’Shot down on Safari” which I picked up with a stack of other vinyl including some stuff off Ram a copy of ‘’Ready or Not’’ white label and ‘’Pacman’’.
What music did you grow up listening too?
I had quite an eclectic taste growing up. My mum used to be involved in a crew called Tribal Dance. They were putting on big raves in the South West in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I was always inspired from an early age by the music. We would go to raves and festivals all over the country and I remember regularly going to places like Luton for the Exodus free parties, Glastonbury festival and Castle Morton. I was still a kid and didn’t really have a clue what I was hearing; but I was always around dance music. Although I think I was probably more vibing off of the atmosphere and running round trying to make money off any washed up raver unlucky enough to engage with me. Looking back now I would have been hearing plenty of Hardcore, Acid House and early Jungle. At home there was always music on and you could always find plenty of rave tapes around the house; my mum had a pretty mean stack of reggae and soul records. As I grew up around the age of 7 to around 12 I started discovering and buying my own music. I was listening to all sorts of different stuff really Oasis, Fugees, Massive Attack, Leftfield, Eminem, System Of A Down…even The Spice Girls haha!
You cut your dj’ing teeth on the free party scene, how did that influence your sound?
Some of the first places I got a chance to play records in public was at free parties.
I’ve always been quite confident in my sound but from an early age I remember really having that ‘Drum n Bass in your face’ attitude. Anyone playing any sort of techno, trance or house was getting shut down. Me and my mates would run round festivals sabotaging generators and cutting cables of any rigs playing music that wasn’t Ragga, Hip Hop, Garage or DnB. Looking back I laugh, but I’m also quite ashamed. I have a much more open mind to music nowadays and still regularly play at free parties. Lots of my close friends make all sorts of different free party sounds e.g. Ragga Tek, Jungle Tek and Brekcore and although it’s still not really my thing I find it really inspiring and love watching them DJ…their sound tears up dancefloors all over the world. The energy from the crowd when they play is amazing. Production wise I’m always thinking about how the tune is gonna sound through the rig and whether I think it will go down well at a party.
What’s the most annoying thing someone has done / tried to do to you while you are trying to play at a free party?
Gosh there’s so many it’s hard to say?
I’ve had mashed up ravers completely take the decks out or the whole stack of speakers fall over while I’m dj’ing. Police grappling me to the floor for refusing to stop the tune. A naked guy clearing the dancefloor, random girls requesting chart music, people trying to sniff lines off the record while it’s playing! You name it, it all goes on when your dj’ing at a free party.
What was your first “big gig” and how did it go?
It was 2004, I was about 16 years old and I was living in the mountains in the South of Spain. I used to visit a place called Orgiva, it was hosting the Dragon Festival-one of the largest free festivals in Europe. The festival attracted Soundsystems and ravers from all over. That year was a big one! There were around 40 Soundsystems and easily 20,000 ravers.
I had a friend called Lee, he had brought over one of the biggest rigs that year, a huge stack of Function One called Manic Soundsystem. They were famous for putting on huge London squat raves and playing nothing but balls out Techno.
I was still quite young at the time and didn’t have a clue about beat matching or even what it was. All I knew was that I loved playing records and I wanted to be a DJ. I had just got back from London with a pile of fresh DnB records and somehow managed to convince Lee to let me road test them on the rig that night. There was around 3000 ravers it was peak time and I was shitting myself. Not knowing how to mix I used to play the tunes to the middle break down and fade in the next one from the start. I did my first fade and the place went off! It was so exciting and nerve racking at the same time…I had to hide behind the decks and be sick! After that I pulled it together and smashed it out, fade after fade haha! Luckily I’ve learnt to mix now and have had the opportunity to smash it out to some pretty big crowds; some of the most memorable being NYE warehouse raves in Bristol and The Lions Den and Sector 6 stages at Boomtown festival.
You founded Born on Road with Aries, Stivs and Gold Dubs. How did the label come about?
So I moved back to the UK in 2010. I had previously met up with Aries when we booked him and Tuffist for a show on the beach in Spain. We got to know each other a bit more over the next couple of years and started writing tunes together. We were thinking about what labels we could send tunes to and, half-jokingly, mentioned setting up our own label. It basically stemmed from there. I was writing lots of music with Stivs at the time and Aries was doing Lion Fire with Gold The first 2 releases on the label had all of us on so it really made sense teaming up together as a collective. From there we have all kinda played our own part in getting the label of the ground it’s great to be working with everyone.
What makes Born on the Road unique soundwise?
Our sound isn’t unique, we are influenced by so much, but what makes our sound strong is the bond we have as friends and as a team. We all have slightly different sounds but they completely overlap at the same time. It’s really evident in our live shows and I think that’s what people really love.
Was there a musical concept when you all started the label or is it just a growing changing label?
Really the main concept was to just put out good quality music. We love working with vocalists and have no strict genre policy. Our first release was Jungle and the second a 140 release. We’ve released Reggae, Hip Hop and Dub, although predominantly we’ve been putting out Jungle and DnB and I would say that’s really where our roots lie.
You’ve released on a lot of big labels, Chopstick, Joker, Subslayers – do you try and release different styles on different labels, or is it just random, is there a master plan with these things?
To be honest there’s been no plan. I love a lot of different music and through my passion for it, I’ve got myself into some great situations. Dazee was one of the first DnB Dj’s I saw live when I was maybe 13 years old. 15 years later I was putting out a release on Ruffneck Ting its mad!
Getting to release on Chopstick Dubplate (one of my all-time favourite labels) was a dream come true. Chopstick’s music really changed my approach to Jungle/DnB and really inspired me at a point when I was finding my sound. I had been buying vinyl and listening to tunes from them for years.
Working on The Dream Teams “Stamina” with my best mates and releasing it on vinyl on a label I grew up buying records from, again, was just super surreal. I’ve got that one framed ready to go on the wall.
I’ve also been releasing 140 stuff and probably my biggest tune to date is a 140 jungle style tune I did with Stivs ‘’Eggs’’. It features vocals from Jam Baxter & Dabbla. It was a really fun project to work on and I don’t think either of us really knew what we had made at the time. We went on to release it on Born On Road. That was definitely a proud moment for me.
How do you feel your production has changed since your first release?
I would say it’s definitely changed a lot, I am still learning so much. I have never had my own set up or money to get a studio so to be able to have the opportunity to make music has been amazing. I have basic knowledge of most programs but it’s always difficult when you don’t have your own studio. That’s why it’s been amazing to work with Aries and Stivs over the last few years they have really been helping push my sound and translate my ideas into tunes.
You were tour DJ for some pretty big artist, how did that come about?
Really just through being passionate about music. I get booked to play Jungle & DnB a lot but really my tastes go a lot deeper than that, I especially love reggae, dancehall, Hip Hop & any sort of 140 & Grime. I’ve never been shy to approach an artist and tell them I want to work with them or that I love their music; that’s exactly what I did. I linked up with Buggsy in Bristol, his DJ wasn’t about at the time and we were mates so I offered to fill in. From then we did a load of shows together over the next year or so. After that I teamed up with young talent, Gardna. He was just 19 at the time and he had asked me for a beat. A few weeks passed and he came back with an absolute banger! He totally murked it. We went on to release it on Born On Road. By then we had been hanging out a lot and he was looking for a new DJ- again I offered my services and since then we’ve been mashing up dances up and down the country from Falmouth to Edinburgh and all over Europe. It’s a totally different vibe when you’re DJing for a P.A set and it’s nice to take a back seat and soak up the atmosphere. Over the time I’ve also played for some massive idols of mine… people like Eva Lazarus, Demolition Man, YT, Jam Baxter, Dabbla & Lady Leshurr.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Musically I’m working on some really exciting stuff! I can’t give it all away, but recently I have been working on material for the likes of Serial Killaz, Laid Blak, Aries, Run Tingz, Junior Dangerous, Joe Peng and, obviously, Born On Road.
I’ve been learning loads through managing Born On Road and we’ve really started to gather up some great momentum with releases and build a good following. Plus, we are working with some great artists. There is loads of exciting music lined up this year including Aries Album project, a solo EP from myself and more bits from Rahmanee.
We’ve also just started releasing music on Roots Records again. Its great- Roots Records originally started releasing Jungle in 2006 and now we’re bringing it back in digital format. It’s an honour to be involved in a label you’ve followed for years. Now we’ve got loads of wicked music from all our favourite producers, I’m really looking forward to getting it out there on road!
Also, I’m involved in a club night in Bristol called Rumble in the Jungle. We do two massive events twice a year in Bristol and we tend to go all out and put on a huge show with fully immersive decor across 6 rooms. It’s great to be able to have the platform to push the artists that have been so influential to me over the years. Plus, Bristol is a pocket of talent and has a great dedication to music so we get loads of exciting up and coming artists on the bill as well. Sound is an important factor for us as well and we have been bringing down Electrikal Soundsystem, all the way from Scotland, as well as using local soundsystems to power each room. That’s a really fun side-line project and its great working with Stevie and Jamie, the Directors of the brand. They have so much ambition and drive when it comes to getting their ideas off the ground.
I really don’t lie when I say I’m super passionate about music and I do whatever I can to be involved in it hence why I always have lots of different projects on the go aside from DJing and making tunes. I love soundsystem culture and recently I have been running a Dubplate recording service with my pal Selecta Jman. We’ve had loads of exciting vocalists in the studio and have loads more lined up. I’ve been really pleased with the way it’s been going and we’ve been stacking loads of really sick Dubs for the sets. For me I get the same feeling recording dubs as I used to get going vinyl hunting. That feeling of finally owning a tune that you love and that you have searched for for a long time. Or that feeling of getting a special white label that hardly anyone’s got it’s just like buying a dub from an artist you’ve followed for years or getting a freestyle on a dub you know no one in the world has.