Stuart King has plenty of tales to tell when it comes to dance music. He has promoted sortie sin war bunkers, was there for the breakdancing revolution of the 80s, and live through the acid house explosion.
He makes beats, too, and his latest project is new album Late Night Obsessions on Baroque Records, while he also is one half of Sunday Club on the legendary Stress Records. He has played alongside huge names from the underground and is a revered DJ in his own right. His output touched son many styles of house and disco and now we speak to him about all this and more as his album drops…
“When your in a club and the DJ gets it right, theres unity, there is a message..”
How are you, how has summer been, what have been the highlights?
I’m very well thank you and i hope you are too. Summer has been awesome so far, most of it has been spent in the studio so i haven’t seen much sunlight! But the highlights has been the release of Album, it charted at No.2 in the ITunes UK Electronic chart which was incredible and the feedback has been amazing.
Tell us about Sunday Club – how different are you, sound and style wise, when making music and Djing as part of that duo?
Sunday Club was myself and Marc Mitchell, we produced together in the ninety’s and were signed to
Stress Records. We had a massive following, tracks on Radio 1, Pete Tongs Essential mix, Sasha, Digweed, Danny Howell’s, Dave Seamen, Tiesto, Paul Van Dyke and pretty much everyone were hammered our tracks.
“Epic House” was the term used by Mixmag when they published an article on this new sound
sweeping the nation. We had similar tastes in electronic music, Depeche Mode, Jean Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk and we worked so well together in the Studio and were into a similar sound back then, but we never played together as a duo. I was the DJ and would come into the studio with my ideas and compose and arrange the tracks for the Dancefloor, Marc was the studio wizard.
And what is it like producing solo vs as a duo – easier or harder? Are you more free and loose?
It was harder at the beginning, as i used different software to what we used together as “Sunday Club”.
But i have been working solo for over 15 years now so i definitely feel free as a producer. It’s up to me to now decide when a track is finished, when your a duo it has to be a mutual. Also in a duo, if one of you likes something the other one doesn’t it can be difficult having to let that sound go, especially if your favourite part and you think it makes the track, so you both have to be happy to move forward. But sometimes, i do miss bouncing ideas off someone else in the Studio, thats always a good buzz.
You’ve DJed next to some huge stars – which one made the biggest impression on you and why?
I have done a few sets with Sasha, he will always be a favourite of mine. From his early days, the way he could mix all styles of music in perfect key, and just build his sets and take you to so many different places, no one could touch him. But lately, DJ Tennis blew me away this year when he played at “Warung Beach Club” in Brazil during Carnival. I played before him in the Garden, it’s an incredible setting, just across from the beach, with a backdrop of beautiful rainforest. I loved his vibe, someone handed him a silver cloak to wear whilst he was playing, and he just got lost in the moment, i like seeing that, a DJ immersed in the experience, they become part of the crowd. He played from 4 – 8am, the vibe was amazing and he had the crowd in the palm of his hand. It was an incredible set, the best i have heard for a very long time.
What is your aim in the booth – do you have a certain style, something you always try to achieve be that educating the crowd, entertaining them, amazing them with technical skills?
I always aim to take them on a journey, and early on i try to keep everyone happy, keeping the girls on the floor is always key, because the boys always follow. So early on in the night i will play a style thats borderline crossover but still carrying my trademark sound, cool tracks just to warm up the floor, some vocals, then slowly take things deeper, introducing new elements or a different style every 45 minutes in my sets, stepping up a gear gradually. I like to tease them and lead up to the big tracks, because when they come in they get a bigger reaction. I learnt my craft as a warm up DJ, and its still my favourite set, warming up a room is an Art in itself. If you can master that, then the main set becomes easy. I was resident DJ at Privilege in Ibiza for two years, The Biggest club in the World, that residency taught me a lot, as its such a huge room. Even when there is two thousand people in there, it looks empty, so you had to really cater for everybody, to keep them all dancing and keep them in the club, buying drinks, you can see what tracks work. I don’t play just one genre, if you play the music in the right way, you can play whatever you want, and its how you introduce that tracks that is the key.
Why now for a debut LP? What made you think the time was right?
I think for the first time in my life I had less distractions and I just committed to the project.
Once a few tracks were finished i started to see a pattern and it all came together. It just happened really, no plans, I would spend endless days and nights working on this Album but not being too critical about it, instead of trying to fit in with current trends, I just made music, that I liked and enjoyed working on. I think if your trying to copy something thats current, which everybody is playing, you have already lost as its already been done, so i just created my own style, and I would like to think thats what I have achieved.
And was there a concept or theme for it from the start? Did you have an idea of what you wanted to say with it?
I wanted to incorporate my sound in into the Album and for it to flow like my DJ sets. Laid back at the beginning and building throughout until the peak towards the end of the Album. That took months to achieve as there were twenty six tracks originally and i had to let twelve of those go, It wasn’t easy but now the Album flows naturallyI was trying to say something with the Album of course, but it was done subconsciously and that was translated into the music, thats how natural it felt, it had been a rocky few years for me, so this album has a lot of those feelings and emotions portrayed into the music, in my sound.
What gear or software did you use on the album? Does any one bit really define your sound do you think?
I made most of the Album on Ableton Live, bounced the parts out and it was mixed in Logic.I used to use Logic mostly and rewire Ableton for my FX, Loops, Samples and use Logic as my main DAW, But with Ableton its so quick to get ideas together, if your trying to get that initial idea down, it’s the best. On the Album i used a lot of the Native Instruments gear, Komplete Ultimate 10, Maschine, Reaktor 6, Roland Plug-Ins, U-he Synths, and when we mixed it down in the studio some “Bob Moog” was added for good measure. Its a combination of sounds really, i don’t just have one go to synth, i like to play around with stuff and try and find the sound i’m looking for, Guitar Rig 5 is Amazing, i love using that to distort my synths!
Should house music be social or political? Should it spread messages that engage people rather than the usual “oh bad”?
Originally, in the early days of House music that was the idea, to spread the message of love and unity, to bring people together of all race, religion and colour, to be one family. “Ce Ce Rodgers” – “Join Hands” is an amazing track, and it was special because you were part of something new back then, the fighting had stopped, everybody accepted you for who you were, it was a special time. When your in a club and the DJ gets it right, theres unity, there is a message, maybe not always with lyrics telling you how or what way you should lead your life, but were all there together for the love of the music. Thats the Message…
What’s next for you after the album – what else you working on?
I’m playing in Ibiza in a few weeks, i have a couple of gigs, one at KM5 which is an after party for “Heart Ibiza” + “Cha Cha Moon” from Ko Samui, Thailand, i play there a lot when i’m in Asia, it’s an amazing club and i’m really looking forward to their Debut of the Brand in Ibiza, also Sankeys, a boat party for “Pukka Up” plus a few others gigs.
New releases: I have a new E.P called “Chanjira” which is released in September on
“High Tide Recordings”. Rising stars “Mongo” have done the remix on it and its huge,
it was played on John Digweed’s Transitions show a few weeks ago and there a big buzz about it!
Also i’m just putting the finishing touches to three new E.P’s. which should be out over the next few months.
Late Night Obsessions – Baroque Records
1. Stuart King – Anvil (Original Mix)
2. Stuart King – Vision (Original Mix)
3. Stuart King – Circle of Eight (Original Mix)
4. Stuart King – Be Free Feat. Kinnoha (Original Mix)
5. Stuart King – Waiting (Original Mix)
6. Stuart King – Rojo (Original Mix)
7. Stuart King – Take Your Time (Original Mix)
8. Stuart King – Walking Street (Original Mix)
9. Stuart King – Afrikana (Original Mix)
10. Stuart King – Dreamscape (Original Mix)
11. Stuart King – Roots Feat. Kinnoha (Original Mix)
12. Stuart King – Searching (Original Mix)
13. Stuart King – Cielo (Original Mix)
14. Stuart King – Which Road to Take (Original Mix)