There are few DJs who have as much passion and dedication to this industry as Kevin Knapp. He’s a constant pioneer of the sounds crowds yearn for through his own individual production style and his proclivity for vocal contributions.
His stand out vocals first turned heads back in 2012 proclaiming “My Beat Will Control You” with Audiojack and his first Hot Creations cut ”The Drums” alongside A&R head Richy Ahmed in 2013 is still owning dance floors to this day. More recently his track “Drug Birds” on Sola was heavily supported by UK mainstays Hannah Wants and Huxleym while “Your Mind” with Shiba San was released with Repopulate Mars and swept across dancefloors. Kevin has now taken every opportunity to continue his craft, leading him from San Francisco to the capital of Techno: Berlin.
This is not seen as a day job to Kevin, but rather, it’s a way of life. It’s an attempt to communicate with audiences worldwide through his sounds and passion for human connection and it’s working. Whether that be as small as a vocal loop, or as substantial as a full fledged EP on some of the biggest house music labels in world, Knapp will turn his hand to anything in order to continue this journey he’s living day in day out, going BIG in more ways than one.
With releases on Hot Creations, Crosstown Rebels, Hottrax, Sola, Dirtybird, Truesoul and more, Knapp continues to delve beyond the music and he is positioned to have 2019 be his most impressive year to date.
WWD: Hey Kevin, nice to chat with you today. Let’s start straight with music. You’re a big champion of vocals in house music, more often than not your own. Why do you think instrumental or sampled music has become so much more prevalent than it used to be?
That’s a great question. I don’t know if I’m just oblivious or what, but I’d not even considered that vocals in tracks are diminishing. I guess for me, music including electronic music will always bear some relationship to lyrics and vocals regardless because the traditional perception of a song is so wed to vocals and lyrical content. All of these things go in cycles, things will get vocally heavy again at some point.
WWD: Do you think that’s necessarily a bad thing?
Not at all. Good music is good music and things need to always stay fresh. Less focus on vocal content in today’s tracks just makes them more special when they appear and are done correctly. Special is never a bad thing.
WWD: What’s the best new record you’ve heard this week?
It’s not a new record but it’s new to me. So Ingawa – Selfless State – It’s just got boatloads of vibe.
WWD: What have been some of the trends in electronic music you’ve seen emerging, or becoming more established this year?
The most interesting thing to me is that I’ve learned to always keep an eye on what’s what shifts are coming. When I first started DJíng and producing it was a discovery for me to learn that many of the most talented in the game only stay in one musical vein for so long (in terms of style or often micro genre). Sure, you have your genre leaders and stalwarts but in my opinion, the underground never stays in one place to long. From House to Progressive, to Electro, to Minimal, to Deep House, to Tech House the trends are ever changing. Currently the BPM’s are on the way back up and I am playing faster now than I’ve ever played. I love it though, it’s funny how the old records I was playing feel so slow now.
WWD: You launched your Beats ‘N Eats film series this year, and we’ve heard there’s another episode just around the corner. For the uninitiated, what’s the idea behind the series?
Beats ‘N Eats is essentially an idea I had a couple of years ago that I can’t believe has come to fruition. I grew up eating lots of different styles of cuisines because my mom is a gangster home cook. She’s an amateur chef for all intents and purposes, so I’ve always been into food. Additionally, the longer I’ve been in the music game the more I’ve noticed that where ever you find a good music producer you are likely to find someone who knows their way around the kitchen. So the premise of the show is to explore the relationship between the two creative disciplines and to have a little fun, and maybe grab a good bite or two along the way. My Berlin homie Mario Munster is good at pulling things out of people heads and helping them manifest in the world. So he and I started chatting and now the show is off and running!
WWD: What is it about exploring food and culture around the world that particularly appeals to you?
I just feel like we never stop learning. I also feel in order to be an astute, educated, compassionate student of the world the more input I can receive the better human it will make me. I love the process of taking it all in and finding out who I am in the process. I can’t think of much that makes me happier.
WWD: What’s the best thing you’ve ever personally cooked?
Another good question. I pretty happy I’ve been able to perfect my mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing and alternatively her fried rice. I also make a next level fettuccini alfredo that I prefer to most on the planet.
WWD: And the best meal you’ve ever eaten…?
Vue Du Monde – Melbourne Australia. 15 courses of that which can never really be understood only appreciated.
WWD: Do you think that the DJ idolisation culture that has become a part of the scene has led some artists to take themselves too seriously?
Quite possibly, but definitely not everyone, or even most. Sometimes youth plays a role there too. I think it’s important for us all to stay grounded for sure. I know for me, although I hardly see myself as one that’s idolized haha, I love nothing more than hanging out with people who could care less about my vocation. I love the support from friends and family but I also love hearing just as much about what they are up to and encouraging them. That’s what it’s all really about in my opinion. Having an audience for our music is great, but in my opinion life is better lived with all of our feet on the ground. We’re all just people.
WWD: Tell us about the music you’re currently working on, or have coming up soon? What should we be looking out for?
I am working on a remix currently for Andre Salmon that I am really excited about for his vinyl only imprint. I am also working on a new collaboration with Sacha Robotti of a track I started called Oh Dear. I’m shopping a couple other bits and have a solo EP dropping on Desert Hearts Records on December 13th so watch out for that one for sure!
WWD: And where can we catch you playing?
I’ll be in Leeds this weekend playing at a club called Mission. Then I’ll be taking a bit of a break to get some work done in the studio. I’ll be in SF on New Years and in Costa Rica at the beginning of the year. Until then it’ll be music writing and working on pulling episode 2 and 3 of Beats “N Eats together. It was a busy summer and fall so I’m happy to settle in and get some work done for sure!
WWD: Finally, what’s the perfect dinner party album?
Can’t go wrong with Miles Davis Kind of Blue and lately this mix by Ullar Siir I heard at a local eatery has been doing it for me as well.
I’m having a dinner party tonight at my house in Berlin actually with good friend and fellow ex-San Franciscan Jamaica Suk. I imagine we’ll get properly stuck into both. 😉