Kevin Knapp is a force to be reckoned with, a musical heavyweight known for his jackin’ house style and lifelong penchant for standout vocals. With releases on Hot Creations, Dirtybird, Hottrax, Sola, Crosstown Rebels Truesoul, and more, few DJs have as much passion and dedication to the industry as Knapp. He turned heads in 2012, proclaiming “My Beat Will Control You” with Audiojack, and his first Hot Creations cut, ‘TheDrums,’ alongside A&R Richy Ahmed in 2013 is still owning dance floors to this day.
The Texas-bred, Berlin-based DJ combines early influences of golden-era hip hop and edgy indie rock with the minimal and tech house flavors he garnered in San Francisco at the dawn of the millenium to create his gritty signature sound. It’s a sound that’s widely favored by a cache of international house DJs, including Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler, Solardo, Claude VonStroke, Danny Howard, Patrick Topping, and Hannah Wants.
To Kevin, DJing is much more than just a profession; it’s a way of life. It’s an attempt to communicate with audiences worldwide through his music and passion for human connection. They must be getting his message as it’s clear that Kevin’s sound is an infectious front-runner in house music.
He’s previously played at Miami Music Week, Sonar, Desert Hearts Festival, Dirtybird Campout, Paradise at DC-10, Get Lost, CRSSD, Fabric, Kater Blau, Elrow, and Sankeys, in places all over the world, including Beirut, Ibiza, London, Mumbai, Seoul, Sydney, Melbourne and Malta, Whether it’s an intimate underground club or a huge festival stage, Knapp loves connecting with people and constantly pushes to break the boundaries between DJ and spectator.
2019 was a big year for Knapp. His track,’Call Me’ with Hannah Wants earned heavy support from Carl Cox and Jamie Jones, and a remix from Cox. Sticking with Hannah Wants’ Etiquette imprint, he also released number one Hype Chart topping tech house EP ‘Heads Up’.
If that weren’t enough, he teamed up with Lee Foss’ label, Repopulate Mars, and swept dance floors around the world with his collaborations, ‘The Homie’ with Prok & Fitch and ‘Funk Police’ with Nathan Barato.
Expanding his reach further, he also combined his love for house music with his love of amazing international food in a video series he co-created with his creative partner, Mario Munster called Beats N’ Eats. The show sees Kevin travel around the world, cooking, eating, and visiting with other house loving foodies and DJs, highlighting the similar dynamics and subtle connections between making amazing music and cooking a delicious meal.
Delicious meals aren’t the only thing Kevin has been cooking up. Plump Recordings, his newly announced label project with with fiance and Detroit native, Jessica “Hutch” Hutcheson, mashes up the flavors of Chicago, Detroit, Berlin, and NYC to create a sound they call ‘Feminist Ghetto Tech’.
“It’s somewhere between Chicago House, Bass House, slowed down, more heavily produced Ghetto Tech, and shuffley Tech House”, says Kevin. “It’s gritty with a dose of cheekiness…uplifting while militant, raw and empowering, a place of refuge for everyone who has ever felt unseen or excluded, no matter gender, color, or creed.”
Plump Records is fat positive, queer positve and anti racist with a focus on centering underrepresented marginalized voices. Stay tuned for a buffet of fat beats from these dancefloor revolutionaries in 2020.
WWD: What positives can you take away from COVID, how have you been utilising your time?
First, I’d like to say a big Thanks to WWD for inviting me back for a chat with Ireland & Canada’s favorite dance media outlet, I feel like we’re becoming homies! COVID time has been interesting. I think emotionally and psychologically it’s been difficult but interestingly, I feel like my DJ career has been served by it in some respects. It’s hard to know, as we DJ’s usually judge some of the success of our creative efforts by gig interest, and atm that gauge is nonexistent. However, as the world in general has been less busy with lockdowns and closures etc…, it seems to me that a lot of attention has turned online. With the launch of new our record label Plump, the performance of our weekly livestream Plump’d on Dirtybird’s Twitch channel, my switch to NGE as an agency, and the string of releases and remixes we’ve been on, I feel like we’ve done a good job of inviting people into my creative process, and that we’ve gained a bit of visibility.
WWD: You are from San Francisco but now live in Berlin – how do the two cities compare?
I love both for different reasons. San Francisco is much more of a lifestyle city that has all the world’s comforts and adventures at your door step. Berlin is ground zero for creative culture globally in my opinion, especially regarding dance music. So, they both have their benefits 🙂
WWD: Have you been playing at any socially distanced events in Berlin, or are you saving yourself for the real deal?
I have not played a single socially distanced event. The last event I played was in Birmingham on March 7th. We have been livestreaming quite a lot though. It’s no replacement for the real thing but I’ve really begun to enjoy it quite a bit!!!
WWD: You’ve just launched your new label Plump, can you give us some more info about it?
Plump is a project from myself and my life and creative partner Hutchtastic. It had been a long time dream of mine to start my own label. I’m really excited for the musical and creative freedom it brings, being able to make and put out whatever I want without being beholden to anyone else’s ideas or agendas. In addition, we are excited to use our platform with the label as an opportunity to help amplify more marginalized voices. Musically speaking the label is more about an ethos than it is any specific genre.
WWD: The first release on Plump was yourself and your fiancé Hutch – how does that collaborative partnership work?
Very very carefully! Haha, no, truth be told, it’s a creative and business partnership I could have never dreamed of. She fills in all the areas where I lack and vice versa. I really believe we make a great team and help each other get projects across the finish line each and every day. We have no kids, don’t plan to, and feel like the art is our baby so we spend every day, trying to find new ways to create!
WWD: What can we expect next from Plump?
Next up on Plump is a Kevin Knapp solo EP for Plump 001 followed by Hutchtastic’s debut EP for Plump 002. I can’t wait for you all to see what we’ve got in store for ya.
WWD: This year you’ve had releases on Lee Foss’ Repopulate Mars and Claud Von Stroke’s Dirtybird label – do you have plans to release more music on other labels or keeping it solely on Plump moving forward?
I’ve got an EP dropping on Cutting Heads on December 18th and a solo EP dropping on Repopulate Mars next spring. As our Plump journey continues however, we plan to have more and more of my solo material released there
WWD: Any artists for us to watch out for as we edge towards 2021?
I’m actually really feeling a DJ called Longstocking’s productions lately out of Seatlle. She’s making some really great stuff. I’ve also digging the vibes I’ve been getting from Tony H, Prince L, Subset, Ardalan and J.Worra’s work.