DJ S.K.T has just come off the back of a huge summer touring the UK and Europe playing in some of dances music most prestigious venues. He was propelled to dance music stardom with his single ‘Take Me Away’ and has since received praise from all across the scene. Here we caught up with the gifted DJ and producer to chat about his latest single, life on tour and his hopes for the upcoming year.
Your single ‘Take me Away’ was a massive club anthem in 2015, and still is now, but what does 2017 hold for DJ S.K.T?
Yeah it was great to have such a hit so early on in my career. It’s a record that I guess people will always associate me with, and its success is something I’ll always be proud of. But to be honest, I’m equally proud of all the records I make. I never put something out unless I’m 100% happy with it and believe in it. I’m also super-happy with how well-received ‘Poison’ was this year. Annie Mac really got behind it and the reactions were insane from whoever I played it to, so it’s been a great year. I’ve been in the studio pretty much non-stop for the last month or so, and I’ve got a few things that are more or less finished. I can’t reveal exactly what’s happening yet and it’s all a bit under wraps still, but if you’re into the kind of stuff I’ve been making so far I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
How does it make you feel when you hear praise from people like Idris Elba? After all he is potentially the next 007!
Ah man, he’s like the most down to earth dude I’ve ever met. It’s weird, he’s obviously played all these iconic- super-cool characters and is such an icon and you think there’s no way he’s going to be able to live up to your expectations, but he totally does. Super-humble guy and really down to earth. He absolutely loves his music too, so for him to be a fan of me, look up to me and what I do is pretty crazy! We’ve made a couple of tracks together which ive been playing out recently and are already getting a great reaction on the dancefloor so Im looking forward to releasing them in 2017!
Your music is hard to tie down to one form of dance music; what sort of sound would you describe it as?
I don’t like to be categorised or to fit in a box… To me what I make is house or dance music. There are so many sub-divisions and categorisations people put on dance music, but ultimately its house. Sometimes I work something around a sample, sometimes a bassline, a groove or the vocal will take centre stage – but it’s all just house! I guess I’ve always been interested in the kind of music that gets people excited and dancing, and makes them happy. Music with energy and purpose. I don’t see the point in making music that doesn’t evoke an emotion, whatever that emotion is. There’s a lot of soulless music about at the moment, I guess mainly due to DJ’s who don’t really produce but need to put out records in order to further their career. It’s a shame that nowadays you have to become a “producer/artist” in order to get booked as real talented DJ’s who don’t produce find it a lot more of a struggle and don’t get the recognition they deserve.
It also annoys me on the other side when producers who have had some success with a record decide to suddenly become a DJ because you go to watch them and since they’ve only been DJing 3 months the actual experience is crap.
How hard is it to juggle being a producer, DJ and label manager?
Yeah it’s tricky, just finding enough hours in the day can be a juggling act like you say. But I love it, so a lot of the time it doesn’t feel like work, especially when you’re DJing at a massive festival like We Are. Creamfields, EDC ect and there’s 30k people going crazy to your own tracks you’ve produced – that’s a feeling you just can’t beat. Sometimes I have to make myself go into the studio as being on the road is always a lot of fun, but often once I’m in the studio I can’t leave. When it’s flowing it’s easy, and again doesn’t feel like work. I guess I get less sleep than a lot of people and my bodyclock is a mess, but that’s a sacrifice I’m more than happy to take.
You’ve been on some great underground labels like Defected, Strictly Rhythm how did it make you feel when you got snapped up for a major release by Atlantic Records?
It was pretty surreal and cool to know that a major was interested in what I was doing, a real endorsement. It’s so different to how the majority of labels I work with operate, so it was a real learning experience and taught me a lot about the industry and also where I want to be and what relationships I really want to build apon.
You’ve been touring the UK and Europe, what was your favourite city to play to and why?
That’s so tough. To be honest it’s less about the city and more about the crowd. If you get to play at a venue where you feel like the crowd trusts you, it’s the best feeling in the world. You can play the records they expect to hear, but throw a few curveballs too and know that you’re not going to clear the dancefloor. I do love festivals though: something about dancing in the open air in the sun, that just adds a whole other dimension to the experience.
Do you get much time when touring abroad to have a look around town and take in the culture? What do you like to do when you’re discovering a new city?
I don’t get a lot of time but if I have an early flight into a country and have only had about 4 hours sleep the night before I wont go to bed – Ill head straight out, either on my own or with the promoter and really explore the city and island. The great thing about going to all these places, especially when you’re with a local is you get to experience the real life of the place as a pose to the standard tourist traps. I also find that time gives me real inspiration, even if its only 2/3 hours.
‘All I Wanna Do’ has that trademark DJ S.K.T sound, however, with ‘Only You’ it seems to be a bit more dark and moody, was that something you did intentionally to show your versatility as an artist?
“Only You” I made towards the end of 2015 but no one really got it at the time which was a bit frustrating… that often happens with my music though. But then something comes into trend and then suddenly everyone wants it. It wasn’t a conscious decision or something I made to prove versatility. Often my mood reflects my productions, I think this is something you can pick up on. “Take Me Away” is a great example of this… there’s a deep inner conflict within the track. I wont explain it but if you get it, you get it. As a producer I always like to push the boundaries. I’d rather be experimental and different than to sound the same as 20 other artists. The fact people often find it hard to categorise my music or to actually pigeonhole me is a huge compliment to me as it shows a uniqueness. I’m always evolving, I don’t really enjoy making the same style over and over again as it becomes boring and not really challenging… you could compare it with food, some people will always go to the same spots for lunch or dinner or cook the same meals, other people love trying different cuisines, dishes, restaurants. For me, that’s much more exciting!
Where is your dream venue to play to in the future?
For me, it’s not always about the venue. I have been blessed to play at some of the most highly rated and iconic nightclubs across the world with unbelievable production and some of the best sound systems on the planet, but just as importantly are the crowd. You have a really good music loving crowd that aren’t there just to look good but just dance and really let themselves go and embrace what you are doing, for me that’s when the real magic happens.
By Paraic Walker