Interview: Five Minutes with Kevin Knapp

Image credit: Vitali v. Gelwich Photography

We all need a little bit of positivity in our lives. Meet the endlessly positive Kevin Knapp, a musician who is pushing for equality on every frontier imaginable.  The queer-positive anti-racist feminist (we haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg yet) has just released his latest creation – ‘Under Your Skin’ with Audiojack, accompanied by the noteworthy Pearson Sound. The single is just a small part of the producer’s schedule as he has established his fat-positive label, Plump Records as well as launched the entertaining Beats N Eats TV series in which he explores two of the best things in life: music and food.

Buy ‘Under Your Skin’ here

Curious about the man who has somehow managed to merge two of our favourite things and blend them together so seamlessly, we sat down for an interview with the busy producer for an exclusive. Catch it all below.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts? 

I’m doing what I’m best at.  I make a much better musician than I did a lawyer.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea? 

The idea, but the sound follows closely behind and overtakes the idea ultimately, as I am never able to get what is precisely in my head out of the DAW.

Tell us about Plump Records and the message you’re aiming to send to the public?

Plump is a brand new label project I co-own with my life partner Hutchtastic as I mentioned before.  Plump Records is queer-positive, fat positive, sex-positive, feminist and anti-racist with a focus on centering underrepresented and marginalized voices. A place of refuge for everyone who has ever felt unseen or excluded no matter gender, colour or creed.  We are interested in increasing the visibility for voices in dance music that are increasingly less present in the current landscape.

Does your material feature any collaborations? 

I have collabed a lot over the years.  Both as a vocalist and as a co-producer.

What’s on your current playlist? 

Lots of jazz as I have been buying a lot for my home record player over these lockdowns.  Downtempo, Indiepop, Indie Rock and a fair amount of Hip Hop

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage. 

I’m pretty animated when I’m up there.  It comes from my younger days in show choirs and performing in musical theater.  I’ve also always been a dancer, that’s how I got into dance music in the first place. So in general, I’m pretty interactive with people when I’m up there and I often get the impression that they are surprised by the showmanship and are happy to join in.  On the good nights that generally how it goes, with any luck 😉 

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound? 

I just try to make the sound I hear in my head.  I think the fact that I draw from so many genres in terms of influence contributes to the originality of my sound.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I try to get out there around 2  pm which usually means I arrive at 5 pm. In an effort to clear my head I spend time exhausting all possible distractions and non-production related work until about dinner time. I eat dinner then almost immediately begin to panic about how much time I’ve wasted.  The next thing I know it’s 2 am, and I am forcing myself to stop working on whatever production idea I have finally got stuck into in order to be able to go home, sleep, and come into the studio the next day. Rave, repeat.

Last year saw you launch your Beats N Eats film series – with the aim to bring food, travel and music together. With all three industries hit with covid, one could argue shows like these are more important than ever. Are you going to continue this initiative? If so, how do you plan to do so?

We still have a pre-covid episode to release and plan to have that out in the not too distant future.  We also have at least one more episode we are planning to shoot to bring the first season to an end so stay tuned for that!

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”? 

It was 2000 and I had just moved to San Francisco. I was standing on the dancefloor in an art gallery in the financial district at 8 pm on a Wednesday night.  There was a line around the block and a couple of hundred people inside.  As I stood there sweating, getting lost to the rhythms and appreciating the local art on the walls I thought to myself “I can do this” and here I am!  Jonathan Lisle of Bedrock said of Qool, the Wednesday night party thrown by my buddies, “We walked in at 7pm on a Wednesday night and I had the same feeling I had when I walked into the Hacienda in Manchester […] and when I walked in Renaissance in Mansfield in 1992. The place was electric.” I credit so much of my early day interest and success to the people associated with that party, it was an amazing time!

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set? 

A towel, always a towel and an extra USB!

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Lubelski, KC Wray, Phineo, Longstocking, Prince L, Tony H, Mitch Dodge, DJ Holographic

What gets your creative juices flowing? 

Bearing witness to exquisite creative execution in any form.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression. 

I’m an in the box guy.  I work in Ableton and Massive, Diva, Reaktor and Serum quite a bit, and then a bunch of lower-profile plug-ins I’ve picked up here and there.  We recently added a Moog Grandmother to the studio so it’s been fun getting to know that for sure.

Any side projects you’re working on? 

Yes, but I can’t announce it yet, unfortunately!

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry? 

I guess the easy way to describe it is I’ve just become much quicker with my process regarding almost everything.  Record digging, track production, lyric writing, and recording – all of it.  As the amount of admin work it takes to pull off the business of being Kev increases it’s good that these other things can transpire much more quickly.  Detlef actually said that to me once a long time ago and he was right!

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year? 

My life and creative partner Hutchtastic and I will be releasing lots of new music on our label Plump Records.  I also have releases in the pipeline for Cuttin’ Heads and Repopulate Mars coming out soon. 

Famous last words?

If you find yourself in Berlin do holler,  we like to think our dinner party game is strong!

Follow Kevin Knapp:

Facebook / Instagram / Spotify / Soundcloud

By Sarah Britton