Well regarded as one of the finest young talents making his way through the musical underground, a guy who’s debut release on Elrow smashed the Beatport Tech House chart and peaked at number 11, a guy who not only produces some incredible music, but also devotes a large chunk of his time to helping fledgling producers and DJ’s through his joint-partnership Kuruba Studios where he runs a DJ and Production Academy. Kinnerman took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us at Decoded Mag about all things music.
Kinnerman’s absolute passion and determination can only be applauded. Considered an inspiration to many in the local areas of Merseyside, it was more than an honour as a local based producer myself to have a great chat with a cheerful chap I have learned a lot from over the past 2 years, and we even got a guest mix!
Hi James, great to finally grab an interview with you! How’re things?
All good mate, had a really good past couple of weeks on the music front, which means I’m not a crank, haha.
Let’s start with that amazing debut on Elrow. Did you feel, prior to the release, that it was going to do as well as it did?
You know what, I actually did feel like it was going to do really well because I’ve spent over 10 years working on my productions and I’d say seriously the past 5 years trying to push it forward as a career. I think after so long working like this, you just get a feeling when you work on track whether it’s going to do well or not. To me Elrow is all about a party vibe, I’ve partied when it was in space last year, I’ve been the home of Elrow in Barcelona, when they done one with circus in Liverpool and so on..every time it’s just let me lose myself in the mood of the music, and that’s what i tried to recreate.
You also got your first Radio 1 play with ‘Hip House’, how did that feel?
I was a mad man, I was doing my usual ‘sleeping on the couch in the studio’ haha (those who know me know I’m never out of there) and my good friend Alex O’Keefe from Del-30 drops me a message on facebook ‘Geezer!! Monki played Hip House last night, you seen it?’ … i was off that couch in a second, straight on the BBC Radio 1 website and soon as I heard it I was jumping round like I was at some Drum & Bass rave. I was more buzzing the fact she played it the week after, that was class.
What is it like working with such a world-renowned label as Elrow for a debut release?
Nothing much is different really, it’s the same as any other label in terms of how you go about sending demos and the whole communication/promotion thing. I think being able to say I have a release on Elrow has worked wonders because a lot of people know Elrow now, for the parties, the label, and the rest. The special thing about Elrow was the fact when I sent the music, I had 0 followers on all my platforms, Soundcloud, facebook the lot. Domingo ‘De La Swing’ was actually my first like on my Kinnerman facebook page. The fact they signed me with no followers just goes to show, let the music do the talking and I have a lot of respect for that.
I’m very much looking forward to your release on Origins. Is it fair to say, as another local hero in the producer realm, that you see Josh Butler as a big source of inspiration?
Josh has been a massive inspiration to me because I actually followed Josh before he had his break. I’ve watched him grow and become the success he is today and that is so much motivation to me to push forward with what I believe in and where I want to go with my music. As a platform, it felt right for me to push this to Josh’s label because of this. Last summer me and my friends were in Space for Do Not Sleep and we went back to Darius Syrossians Villa for an after party and Josh were there, regardless of music he’s a top lad and someone who has well earnt the ropes of being very humble.
What would you say has been your biggest drive to succeed?
Well, I’ve always done music from the age of 6, Inspired by DJs who were based in my hometown when I grew up the likes of Lee Butler, John Cotton, Les Calvert, Rob Cain and so on. It’s just been a full on passion since I was a kid, I knew always I wanted a career in this. There’s nothing else I want to do. It’s literally on my mind 24/7, my mates don’t call me nowadays if they wanna see me, they just turn up to the studio because they know I’m there. I just wanna make good music and share it with as many people that I can, and hopefully, they get the same feeling I do out of it.
Do you have any special kind of process when it comes to getting creative? How do you get yourself psyched up to produce a big track?
Well, there tends to be some sort of idea or inspiration there, to begin with.
I always start with the Kickdrum, it’s the most essential element to me, then from there I build my basic drum groove and develop on it then the groove just tells me what to do and the magic happens.
What are your top 5 absolute studio essentials? Be it hardware or software…
- Ableton Live – I recently moved from Cubase to Ableton, I’d be pretty screwed if I didn’t have that, so that’s definitely essential haha
- Moog Sub37 – I just couldn’t live without that now, it’s something I get lost in daily I just love the sound of Moogs
- BBE Sonic Maximizer 482i Hardware – this bad boy adds such nice character and warmth to the low end.. Class bit of kit and cheap as fuck
- Waves Plugins -I’ve got an addiction with H-Delay and Rverb. We have a lexicon reverb unit in the studio and I still think the waves rverb plugin is better.. Adds so much atmosphere
- Boss DD-7 Digital Delay – I love getting weird and trippy with sounds, this pedal is class and a must for me
Let’s talk a little about Kuruba. How did the idea behind it all come to fruition?
I just left my old job working as a buyer for a company that sold shit stuff on eBay and amazon, I hated every minute of it. I wanted to take a gamble and have a crack at my music again but dedicate every second I have with it.
When I left I went out for a few beers with the lads, literally the next day and I was talking about what I’m going to do now and some lad called Stephen who I didn’t properly know at the time messaged me asking if I would consider tutoring him on production, so I did and after a fair few weeks, he really learnt the ropes and we made a really good friendship. He explained he had a garage and was interested in setting up a studio, so him, his family and myself all joined in on the build. Since then it is what it is today, we did have another lad involved for a short while, but he decided to go on his own path.
Ste has been a massive part of my success and without him, I honestly think I would still be grinding away but not where I am today. He believed in me from day one, gave me bags of confidence and someone who I look up to and class as a brother.
I know there has been a label in the works for a while, will we be seeing a launch anytime soon?
Honestly right now, I don’t have a clue. But when the times right, it will be right.
For those who don’t know, can you tell us what kind of services you offer at Kuruba Studios?
- Full Studio Hire with Engineer (Half Day/Full Day)
- DJ Room Hire (Pioneer Nexus Setup, Technics 1210s, Traktor)
- Mixing & Mastering Services
- Recording Services
- DJ & Production 121 Tuition (Basic & Advanced)
- Vinyl to Digital Conversion
- Bespoke Music Production
Do you think it’s safe to say, you enjoy helping others and giving back to the community?
100%. Knowledge is power, if I can help better someone’s production skill or give them a professional space to use and be inspired then I’m happy. I’ve made so many friends in the studio now, it’s like a networking hub for like-minded creative individuals.
What would you say to those that might doubt themselves?
Never stop believing. It’s hard but nothing in life comes easy. Your thoughts become things so don’t stop dreaming.
Let’s talk a bit about the Liverpool club scene at the moment. It’s undergone a lot of changes recently and seems to be swinging a lot more towards Tech House & Techno. Do you feel it is changing for the better?
Yes, there’s always something good on. There are lots of old clubs getting revamped and rigged out with some mega sound systems, moody lighting and generally getting more underground. The lineups are becoming more exciting. The place to be!
You’ve obviously played a lot of great venues around the country. What would you say the major differences are between Liverpool’s club culture, and say, London’s?
It’s hard to say really because Liverpool and London have a really good clubbing culture. I feel that you find a lot more people from all parts of the world in London obviously with it being the capital and a huge part of tourism for the UK.
If you had to pick one quote from history that reflects how you feel you should approach life, what would it be?
“Techno wasn’t designed to be dance music, it was designed to be a futurist statement.” – Jeff Mills
Well, thank you muchly for speaking with us today, it has been a pleasure! Anything you would like to add?
There’s lots of artists that are doing amazing stuff right now, Kokks & Lein, Del-30, Mason Maynard, Veeto & Kruze…. I could go on forever, Go check their music out like right now!
Get on my socials to stay in the loop with my gigs, music, and general stuff. I’ve got a collaboration track I done with David Glass coming out on Kaluki in June and the main man, Jesse Perez will be releasing an EP from me on his label ‘Mr. Nice Guy Records in July… some remixes and originals on some other labels too!
Thanks to everybody supporting me!