Hailing from San Francisco, California, Kevin Knapp is a dance music mainstay who has been making music for more than a decade, releasing on the likes of Hot Creations, Crosstown Rebels and Toolroom, most recently linking up with Mat.Joe and Maximono to release single ‘Drummer Loco’ on Dirtybird. We sat with Kevin Knapp to find about his life Behind The Headphones.
Born in Louisville, but spent most of your years growing up in Texas and San Francisco, how did each city help influence you musically?
Hey there RRP! It’s good to be with you. I lived in Louisville until I was 5 years old. So, I don’t know how much I take from that. My only musical memory from that time is listening to The Doobie Brothers on 8 track in my mom’s Datsun. I actually lived in California for 6 years before moving to Texas. I can remember getting a spiked bracelet and being in love with Motely Crew, Quiet Riot and Van Halen in grade School. Texas is where my perspective on music really matured. Lots of hip hop and indie rock in Austin, and it led to me leaving mainstream music for more underground musical pursuits.
It was in San Francisco in 2000 that I finally found and embraced electronic music. And like many that I meet who love the medium, I’ve never really put it down ever since.
2013 saw you leave sunny San Francisco and head over to Berlin. What were the reasons behind this?
My girlfriend at the time and I had become quite serious, and I set a timeline of just how long I’d continue doing electronic music without seeing career growth as a local. It was at that point, I decided to go all in and move to Berlin to try to become a bigger fish one of the biggest ponds. It’s funny because when I landed in Berlin people already knew who I was. I was shocked to hear that many of the artists who became my initial friends right off the plane (folks like Sacha Robotti and Mat.Joe) already knew of me, due to the success of the Stay glued record I did with Audiojack, “My beat will control you.”
You have toured all across the globe playing at some of the best festivals and clubs, is there one party that stands out in particular and why?
When I played for Elrow at Hordern Pavillion in Sydney Australia it was an experience I will never forget. My flight was delayed multiple times due to bad weather and I arrived at the venue less than ten minutes before my set. I was playing early, 6 pm, so I wasn’t even sure if there would be much of a crowd yet but I walked up the stairs and there were six thousand people there – the place was packed. I walked back down the stairs to collect myself and quietly thought “You just do what you got to do here.” I had a shot of Jack, went back up and just played as vulnerably and from my heart as I could. Apparently, it landed with the crowd, as the response from folks was overwhelming.
Throughout your career, you have released music on many established labels, Hot Creations, Crosstown Rebels, Hottrax, Sola and Dirtybird to name just a few. When producing your tracks, do you produce it with a label in mind or does the label choose you?
I have a group of labels that I generally like to work with. What’s interesting though, is that all those labels you just mentioned are run by people I consider to be friends. So it’s as much about sharing music with and coveting the artistic respect of those friends, as it is wanting to be on some “established” label.
For all aspiring DJs, looking to break through what’s the best advice you could give to them?
I really do think getting out and meeting people and being a thoughtful, genuine, humble, and value-added person goes a long way. I always thought of it more as how much I wanted to contribute to what was going on, before thinking about what people could do for me. I still feel that way.
What is your biggest life achievement to date?
Graduating from law school ranks up there, but starting my new record label with my creative partner and life partner Hutchatastic, is indescribably amazing. I never dreamed I could be in such a nurturing creatively explosive relationship and after years of cutting my teeth in the industry. I finally feel like I’ve carved out a corner where I can just do me. And that feels really really good.
If you could produce a track with any artist past or present who would it be and why?
Miles Davis, because, Miles Davis.