Interview: Theo Kottis
Theo Kottis is one of the UK’s most promising next generation artists and DJs.
Since first gaining recognition as a resident of Edinburgh’s FLY Club and Glasgow’s Sub Club, he can since count the likes of Joris Voorn and Kerri Chandler as fans. With tracks signed to imprints like Get Physical, Moda Black, and Last Night on Earth, Theo has built up an impeccable discography, enjoying regular features from the likes of Pete Tong, B-Traits, Monki, and Danny Howard on Radio 1.
June 2018 proves a big month in the career of Theo Kottis with both his artist album “Beautiful Strangers” and the 11th instalment of Global Underground’s renowned NuBreed series. With all this going on, and in the middle of a typically busy season schedule, we caught up with Theo to see how things have changed, stayed the same, and what the future holds.
“I believe my strongest skill is being able to adapt”
Theo, great to chat with you, where are you right now and what you been up to this month?
I’m currently in London, though it’s been a busy start to the summer festival season, so I’ve had gigs all over. I’ve also been getting stuck in to some promo work with press and radio, as my album is coming out very soon.
What’s the basis and concept for the album, even the name ‘Beautiful Strangers’ feels like it has a deeper meaning behind it?
As a DJ, I believe my strongest skill is being able to adapt, I’m always experimental with my sets but hadn’t been quite so much with my producing – until now. With this album, you can hear a range of styles; a true representation of my DJ selection. It’s easy to get side-tracked by what you think people expect from you, artistically – so in many ways the Beautiful Strangers concept was a way for me to reset and give myself a whole new headspace, whereby I could make whatever I want, without worrying about it fitting any expectations.
Do you think the album stays true to one specific genre or sound? Or did you aim to explore a wide musical soundscape?
As I said, I’ve been much more exploratory, you can hear a range of styles in the album. It’s the first time that I got experimental with sampling, spending hours finding weird, obscure samples to form the basis of my tracks. I really fell in love with this process. You can hear broken beats, soulful jazz, Brazilian vocals and tribalistic chants all with dance floor appeal.
Any personal favourites from the album?
Right now it’s “Acid Disco”, as I’ve had such a buzz seeing it so well received by crowds – it’s undeniably a track in the summer festival spirit.
Who was involved with the design and the artwork, do you feel like it turned out how you had envisioned it?
I created the type, it was initially inspired by the distinctive visuals of Tom Ford’s film ‘Nocturnal Animals’, combined with a vision of Sub Club’s infamous red lighting. The main design was by Joe Mortell, an amazing artist based in London. It is exactly like what I had envisioned!
Is the label purely going to act as a platform for the album, or will we expect future projects to be released on the label, collaborations too maybe?
Beautiful Strangers is the first in a trilogy of albums, so expect much more – plus some collaborations too. I’m using the label as a way to experiment and not be tied down to a specific sound and hopefully, I’ll see myself improve over the next 3 releases.
Have you been or played in Amsterdam before, if so, what do you like most about the city?
I played in Amsterdam a few years ago, I would love to play there again soon. I recently played with Job Jobse and he seemed so passionate about De School, I need to party there! The clubbing and music scene in Amsterdam seems like it’s in a really great place right now, very inspiring.
So you’ll also be curating your first Beautiful Strangers lineup in your hometown, Edinburgh, in partnership with FLY Open Air. It seems like quite a defining moment, cutting your teeth as FLY’s original resident, how has your affinity with FLY over the years influenced your career as a DJ?
I am so excited to reveal the lineup, doing it my hometown gives it that extra special feeling too. Being able to play all night long at Fly has definitely helped me become a better DJ. It gave me a better understanding of the art of warming up and reading the dancefloor. A Fly party is always a belter of a crowd so I can’t wait to play for them.
Looks live you’ve got such a busy summer ahead. You’ve recently asked to create a compilation mix for the seminal Global Underground series, ‘Nubreed’. How do you feel about being part of such an esteemed compilation series? Briefly run us through you track selection process too…
I’m really proud to be involved, to have a physical product on such a legendary series is really special. No matter what happens in my career I’ll always have this to look back on. All the tracks chosen have played a part in my journey as a DJ in the last 2 years. With each track, I can recall a specific memory where I’ve played or danced to it. I could have approached the mix by trying to select the newest music but I felt the best representation of myself is to look back into my music collection.
I believe you’ve recently moved down to London, how’s it been? Any aspects of Scottish life that you really miss?
I am absolutely loving it, I’m in my element! Lots of great networking, record shopping and there’s amazing parties on nearly every day. Also the food choice is turning me into some sort of foodie.
I’m missing my crew from Edinburgh but they are all coming down for a visit soon, the party won’t stop!
Theo’s debut LP Beautiful Strangers is out now, grab it here