Keith Carnal – Listen, listen, listen. Learn to analyse and try to find your sound

Keith Carnal is a household name in the Amsterdam techno scene, igniting parties across the city with his uniquely blended style of Dutch, German, and Swedish techno. Born and raised in the north of Holland and grew up in a house where his parents often filled the house with sounds from the likes of New Order, Dire Straits and Donna Summer.

In 2008, Keith burst onto the scene playing and producing house and electro music, releasing tracks on labels such as Hotfingers, Suara and Starlight Music. Later, inspired by Joseph Capriati, Ben Klock, Chris Liebling, Adam Beyer and Ben Sims, he discovered his true passion and style, techno. His techno tracks have since been played by Nihad Tule, Joel Mull, Invite, Piatto, Klaudia Gawlas, Phunk Investigation, and many others. Keith is now a firm member of the Affin Recordings family.

He plays at parties such Harry Klein and CLR and is often spotted spinning alongside the likes of Joel Mull, Surgeon, Chris Liebing, Psyk, Christian Smith and Jonas Kopp.

We caught up with Keith over the Christmas break to discuss his style, his productions, and life at Affin Recordings.

Hi Keith, many thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule for a chat. What sort of things have you been up to over the last few days?

I’ve been busy producing mainly! I’ve got a remix I need to make for Organism and also need to have new tracks for Affin. Besides that I’ve played at a festival in Zwolle (NL).

By the sounds of things you were brought up in a household that was very much in to its music. How were you influenced by your family in terms of music?

The stereo was literally on from the moment we got up until we went to bed. Even during dinner the music was still playing. My mum and dad had very different taste for music, so a lot of genres past the revue. Name it and we had it, maybe except for Italo Disco!

Who are you biggest musical influences?

I must say the early house and techno. Melodies, pumping kicks and loud percussion. But, corny to say, Michael Jackson and the Doors were very inspiring. Love Pink Floyd as well!

You are now based in Amsterdam which is a pretty crazy place at the best of times. Where are some of your favourite places to hang out when you are not DJing or making music?

I must say Trouw is the best club in town. Best line-ups and a good place to be anonymous and just party to the early morning. Love Studio80 as well: small but very intimate and always a good vibe. Sometimes a bar (pub) is relaxing too!

You first became known in the dance music world in 2008, and your sound was very different back then. Can you talk us through your earlier sound and how it evolved to what it is now?

Back then I was introduced in producing and DJ’ing by guys who loved house and Electro. Way before that, when I was 15, I used to listen to techno. Around 2008, people around me only listened to House and Electro though. When I learned how to produce, the logical thing was to produce that kind of music. Later on, I got in touch with techno lovers! That was when I found my true love again and realised there was only one kind of music for me. We went to a lot of Techno parties and that inspired me to the tracks I made up until now. Glad I took that turn in music!

Since your early productions your work has been supported by some very big names such as Joel Mull, Chris Liebing and Ben Klock. What does it feel like to now have your music on a big stage and with such support?

It’s crazy man… No words for it. All the guys who I partied with when I was younger are playing my tracks now… Still unreal and it feels awesome!

You were signed to Joachim Spieth’s Affin Recordings label this year, and have gone on to release some incredible tracks with some great remixes, the most memorable being the Joel Mull remix of Objective. How did you come to work with Joachim, and how is life on Affin Recordings?

I had finished some tracks that I was very pleased with (for the first time really). I was searching for a label and Affin instantly popped to mind. I was playing several tracks that were released on Affin, including Joachim’s stuff. I’ve known his stuff from some years before, and I already liked it back then.
Someone told me that it was hard getting through by just sending a promo e-mail, but I did it anyway. 2 weeks later he responded and said he was happily surprised!

Also Joachim is a great label boss! Good communication and great exposure with the releases. So no complains there!

You have had a very busy year in terms of releases. When producing a track do you have a tried and tested formula or is the process a very fluid one in the studio?

I wish it was the last one, but I try and test. A lot of my tracks I leave unfinished. Working on it for days, but realise after some time that it’s not what I thought it was.

What are some of your favourite tools in the studio? What do you always reach for first?

I’ve still got a lot of VST’s I work with. But have got a drumcomputer, that I often use! Just to get a groove going. Then I move pretty fast on to the melody to get the hook for the track. But the beginning is always very different from the result.

What advice would you give to bedroom producers out there looking to break through into the industry?

Listen, listen, listen. Learn to analyse and try to find your sound. Get really familiar with the stuff you use. Sometimes it takes some time, but it’s more than worth it. If you don’t know what to make or where to start, just listen to sets the whole day or go to good techno parties. Always works for me!

What do you have planned in terms of releases for 2015?

First I’ve got a remix coming out on Arts for Electric Rescue, and a remix for Bodyscrub on Amazone records. After that a new EP on Affin (still working on it though). More to come definitely. Will be putting that on my Facebook page.

Tell us about your vision for the exclusive mix you sent us?

I’ve made a set which starts off slow and really bangs on later in the mix, to end calmly. The way a set should be when you’re closing a party!

When you play out what sort of setup is your preferred way of delivering at set to a crowd?

Well, a good sound system for one. Besides that I play with 3 decks and the Xone92. Love that thing! Always try to get wav’s for all the tracks I play (using USB mostly).

There can be many barriers now for new aspiring talent to enter the music scene. What barriers do you find the hardest to overcome when first breaking through?

Getting your music to the big artists and the bigger labels. That’s probably the biggest barrier to overcome. It’s really hard to stand out of all the promo’s, especially when nobody’s heard of you. I’m glad Joachim listened to my tracks at that time. So thanks for that!

Also it’s important to be a part of a family. The guys from “I amtechno” discovered me early on and I got a lot of cool gigs through them. We did a lot of big parties in different countries with “I amtechno”, which got me in touch with a lot of big names. Thanks to the guys from “I amtechno” for that!

You have played alongside some big name DJs over the last year including Chris Liebing, Surgeon, and Joel Mull. Who would you say has been your favourite act to warm up for recently and why?

I love Joel Mull’s sound, very hypnotic and it’s always a story. Couldn’t point out the best, because they all have their unique style and they’re all good. Loved the night with Joel, Psyk and Rodhad in the Amsterdam Studio’s last year! That was some real quality. But names as Trus’me, Heiko Laux, Patrick Siech, etc, were all very cool nights!

There was much talk in the techno world about Surgeon’s recent set alongside Lady Starlight at a Lady Gaga concert. What are your thoughts on this, and do you feel it is a good or bad thing?

Haha, cool question! I found it very cool! It looks a bit silly, but very awesome a the same time. It takes some nerve to stand for such a crowd (not there for the techno). But you could even see people really enjoying it, so I say big ups!

What are some of your favourite tracks at present?

I love “P.E.A.R.L. – Dreamers”. Banging track and really get’s the crowd to the next level. Really loving the A&S stuff lately too! Maybe the best one I recently discovered is “Shxcxchcxsh – Elocution”! Love that melody and the groove.. perfect!

Finally is there anything else you want to tell us about that you have planned for the remainder of 2014, and into 2015?

More gigs coming up! Will be playing more in Germany and France if all goes well! We’re also working on getting the Affin showcase to more clubs, so get ready for that as well! Early 2015 (10th of January to be exact) will kick off with something special. My first Affin label Showcase in… Tresor Berlin! A place where every techno DJ wants to play and a club that was definitely on my Bucket list! Teaming up with Regy van Oers, Arnaud Le texier and Joachim Spieth for that night. If you’re in town, come by!!

Track list

01. Lewis Fautzi – Diagonal
02. Mental Resonance – 31.0 (Joton Remix)
03. The Plant Worker – Zodiac
04. Bodyscrub & Pascal Nuzzo – Believe (Keith Carnal Remix)
05. Woo York – Siberian Nights (Edit Select Remix)
06. Function – Incubation (Ritual)
07. Par Grindvik – Help me Shiver
08. Developer – In Pure Form 07
09. Lewis Fautzi – Blocker
10. Shxcxchcxsh – Elocution
11. Jonas Kopp – Seven
12. P.E.A.R.L. – Memoria
13. Arnaud le Texier – Continuum
14. DNGLS – Envolee
15. Giorgio Gigli – Synergetic Exposure
16. Inigo Kennedy – Arcing
17. Kwartz – Form and Void (Reeko Remix)
18. Keith Carnal – Irrational Behavior
19. Reeko & Exium – Part 1
20. Jonas Kopp – Westphalia (Oscar Mulero Remix)
21. Answer Code Request – Transit
22. Keith Carnal – Prospect
23. Subjected – Concept 3
24. Octual – Varil
25. Rraph – S87
26. Ingacio – Virton Upgraded (Ben Klock Remix B)
26. Markus Suckut – Doomed

About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about every genre of music from Breakbeat, to Drum & Bass, to Techno and House. If he was to describe his preferred style of music he would probably describe it simply as electronic music. Besides his love for music and DJing his other passions are travel, wine, and eating too much good food!