Drogo aka Adam Kent was born in Durban, South Africa. He started clubbing at the age of 15, going to Plymouth’s Scream nights at The Warehouse and was heavily influenced at the time by the likes of Sasha, John Digweed and Carl Cox who all made regular appearances there. Adam got his first decks shortly afterwards and started playing gigs at Plymouth’s Dance Academy, Sound Factory and Conservatory Bar. A move to Bristol for University led to gigs at Cafe Blue, The Rock and Bar Latino. After a brief sabbatical he got back into DJing starting with a monthly podcast on soundcloud, really pushing that deep, techy, twisted sound he has such a keen ear for. The podcast gets hundreds of listens and great feedback from all over the world every month. Regular gigs at Bristol’s legendary Empathy night have led to him becoming resident alongside Jim Rivers and head-honcho Stuart Wilkinson, and the residency has seen Adam playing alongside the likes of Darren Emerson, Jamie Anderson, Jody Wisternoff, Quivver and Henry Saiz. Adam has had a number of tracks signed both as himself and under the Mariana collaboration for labels such as Artform, Pro B Tech, Looq and Baroque. Adam’s first under his new Drogo guise is forthcoming on CitySeven Records. Decoded caught up with Adam to talk about his new production project, babies and that legendary residency.
Hi Adam, its great to see you again, its been a while! I think the last time we spoke was at Tom’s gig the last time I played in Bristol. How’s it been going?
Yeah really well, plenty of DJing, producing and of course being a father of two with a full-time career. All good fun though!
So tell us about growing up in Plymouth. Its a Navy town right?
Spot on, it used to be primarily a Navy city, but since the University started becoming more popular it’s really changed for the better. It really needs a big underground club back though. I still get very nostalgic looking back on those nights at Cultural Vibes and Scream!
Those first gigs were in the Dance Academy. That’s pretty high profile straight off the bat, how did you land that gig and how did it go?
It was actually for a DJ competition. I had sent a mixtape into the promoter (who later told me he listened to it in his car for months after!), and got a call to go and play at this DJ competition. I turned up and played progressive house to five hundred people while all the other entrants played hard house and trance. Because my music was so different to the rest I assumed that I didn’t stand a chance so didn’t hang around to find out the result. Anyway, I got a call the next morning asking where I’d gone, because I’d won! Ended up playing there a few more times, which was great, it was a superb venue that used to be this very grand theatre.
You made the short trip up the M5 to Bristol for University. Was it difficult breaking into the underground scene in a new town?
As you well know in this industry it seems to be a lot about who you know, so it was challenging at first because I had to start from scratch in terms of building up a network of contacts in a new city. In addition, it was really difficult to find decent nights that were into that progressive house sound in the late 90’s. I had my first break here in Bristol at the legendary Café Blue.
As I mentioned in the introduction your influences were pretty well known. Who influences you these days?
I still love Sasha, but nowadays people like Craig Richards, Seth Troxler, Slam and Inxec really do it for me. From a production perspective, I’m really heavily influenced by film scores (hence my love of a good pad!) so people like Cliff Martinez and Hans Zimmer always give me the goose bumps!
Tell us about your DJ set up. Alongside the trusty CDJs you use the Pioneer remix station don’t you?
I’ve got a DJM850, 2 CDJ2000 Nexus and a Pioneer RMX1000. The RMX1000 is fantastic, the real difficulty is leaving the thing alone! I am also starting to integrate the Roland Aira TR8 into my sets, which is really exciting.
What’s in the current top 10?
In no particular order:
Santiago Salazar – Arcade
Gardens of God – Gluk
Quenum – 5AM (Mathew Jonson Mix)
Drogo – Deimos
David K – Show Me The Deal
Roland Klinkenberg – Yani
Tapesh – Brighter Day (Don Melon’s Dub Mix)
Inxec – Come Right Away
Few Nolder – Clouds (Boso Reversion)
Nick Hoppner – Track For Eb
Having lived in Bristol for some time now, how do you feel the underground scene has changed. What challenges do you now face to make a night successful?
I think the biggest change (and this is across the board nationally) is the move away from weekly nights to monthly. Previously you’d have nights such as Empathy operating week in week out, now we’re all just trying to do one big night once a month which is great because it means promoters are working harder to turn that one night into a really good party. That said, I think clubs like the Manchester Warehouse Project and of course Bristol’s own In:Motion have got the right idea by doing a series of big weekly parties for 3 to 4 months each year.
Empathy has been a seminal part of the Bristol clubbing landscape for 13/14 years now. I’ve lost the plot on many, many occasions on their dance floors and seen a host of local talent flourish. Tell us about how the residency came about?
Again it was a DJ competition! Empathy head-honcho Stuart Wilkinson had a DJ competition to warm up for the Empathy 12th Birthday with Darren Emerson, Jody Wisternoff and Jamie Anderson. I put a mix in, against some really tough competition from local talent, and against all odds won. It was an amazing night and honour to warm up for Darren; he’s always been one of my favourite DJs. I got offered a few more gigs with them before Stuart asked if I fancied coming on board as a resident which I was absolutely chuffed to bits about.
You’ve also played some big gigs at In:Motion, tell us about you ended up playing for 5 hours!
Yes, we hosted a room at Carl Cox’s Revolution night when it came to In:Motion. This weekend (4th October) we’re hosting a room again, this time for the In:Motion 2014 Opening Party with none other than Groove Armada!
Lets move on to production. You started out as a partnership – Mariana – named after the deepest point of the Earths ocean, before going solo as Adam Kent. Tell us about your new project, Drogo. Are you a fan of Game of Thrones?
Haha oh yes very much so. I really like the idea of putting music out under an alter ego, and the name Drogo just seemed to fit.
The single is out soon on CitySeven Music. Can you tell us about the story behind the tracks?
A couple of months of blood, sweat and tears haha!
Any gigs planned as Drogo?
Yes, I am hoping that soon all of my gigs will be under the Drogo moniker.
Away from music, you have 2 kids, a wife and a very active dog! How difficult is balancing family life with DJ superstardom?
Luckily I have a very supportive and understanding wife, it simply wouldn’t happen without her. That said, it still does involve a lot of plate spinning! I don’t devote anywhere near as much time to production as I would like, so getting releases like this with CitySeven is very exciting.
CitySeven is a pretty new label. What did you like about the set up there to make you send off your tracks?
Aside from the fact that they have had a consistently strong set of releases, the main thing for me was Luke Brancaccio. I’ve been a massive fan of his since his Brancaccio & Aisher days back in the late 90’s and early 00’s. When I got an e-mail from him asking to sign the tracks I honestly thought he was winding me up! Very chuffed to be signing to the label as I can see they have a very bright future.
Well thanks for a great chat Adam, lets not leave it so long next time! What’s the rest of the year have in store for you?
I’ve got another EP nearly finished (famous last words!), plus a remix upcoming for CitySeven along with several more DJ appearances with Empathy. Oh, and hopefully some sleep!
01// Few Nolder – Clouds (Boso Reversion) [BOSO]
02// Nick Hoppner – Track For Eb (Original Mix) [Ostgut Ton]
03// Quenum – 5AM (Mathew Jonson Remix) [Serialism Records]
04// Shadow Dancer – Breakable (Matrixxman Remix) [GND Records]
05// Causualtees – Sirens (Original Mix) [Eyepatch Recordings]
06// John Norman & Dantiez Saunderson – Stuck In My Mind (Soukervalii Remix) [KMS Records]
07// Makam – Girls Night (Original Mix) [Ostgut Ton]
08// Fur Coat – Fast Forward (Original Mix) [Bpitch Control]
09// Gardens of God – Gluk (Original Mix) [BOSO]
10// Santiago Salazar – Arcade (Vinyl Version) [Macro Recordings]
11// Drogo – Deimos (Original – Master) [CitySeven]
12// Dactilar & Vidall – Part of Me (Original Mix) [AvantRoots]
13// Roamn Flugel – The Odd Lobster (Original Mix) [Ostgut Ton]
14// Few Nolder – Chesnut (Original Mix) [BOSO]
15// David K – Show Me the Deal (Original Mix) [Souvenir Music]
16// Motor City Drum Ensemble – Raw Cuts (Marcellus Pittman Remix) [MCDE Recordings]
17// Matthew Dekay – Patience Please (Original Mix) [Maeve]
18// Kiki & Joyce Muniz – Warriors (Original Mix) [Exploited]
19// Drogo – Phobos (Original – Master) [CitySeven]
20// Smash TV & So&So – Fluffer (Original Mix) [Souvenir Music]
21// Inxec & Dirty Fresh – Come Right Away (Original) [Half Seas Over]
22// Tapesh – Brighter Day (Don Melon’s Dub Club Mix) [Rebirth]
23// Kirsty Hawkshaw – Fine Day (James Holden Remix) [Nettwerk]