Bassweight Sessions 1: Kelly Dean

Kelly @ Smog Sunday’s w/ J:Kenzo (May 6, 2012)

Yo fam, what’s good?!  It’s already halfway through the week, which is a blessing in itself, so let’s start getting those vibes going that are going to bring us into the weekend.

Today we sit down with one of the many talented frontmen for the Los Angeles super-power, SMOG.  Kelly Dean has been involved with the inception of what is now one of the most well-rooted dubstep scenes in the US since, essentially, day one.  From underground art galleries to 5,000 person-sellout shows, Kelly has been amidst the evolution of Los Angeles dubstep.

While LA is largely associated with the aggressive, tear-out, and more commercially recognized styles of  bass, this man has managed to keep innovation going within the deeper side of the spectrum, adding his own creativity to the foundation sounds.  Alongside the SMOG family, Kelly has been bringing in some of the most highly respected figures in the deep scene, with the ‘Smog Sundays’ weekly.  I’ve made it out to as many as my life allows, and I have yet to be let down!  Much respect out to the crew for that!  Now, hopefully we can get some bassweight business going on a Friday or Saturday night, too 😉

Having racked up a sufficient amount of releases on labels like Sub Pressure, Gamma Audio, Shift Recordings, and Smog Records, to name a few, he is no stranger to the buttons.  Releasing drum and bass early on in his career but then switching his focus to dubstep in 08′, the man has definitely been on an upward path of production quality.  With his music receiving the remix treatment by Excision, Chewie, and the engineering mastermind, Von D, it should come as no surprise that his ascent has been steady.  Production aside, Kelly is also a man who has quality mixing skills, whether it be live or on two decks.  Caught his set before J:Kenzo last Sunday and he smashed it, flawlessly bringing in big tune after big tune, crossing between deep and soulful.

Anyways, let’s see what the LA badman has to say, shall we?

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What up Kelly!  First off thanks for the support with this interview.
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How have things with the SMOG family been on the late?  You guys have been bringing some killer performances the past couple months with your Smog Sunday’s; Seven, Noah D, Antiserum, J:Kenzo, and then you got Rustie and Goth-Trad all coming within the next couple months.  Respect!
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Yeah man the next few months are going to be great with all the deep artists coming through.  I’m really happy with the way things are going with SMOG here in LA.  There’s no place i’d rather be really!
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Any big things been going in the studio for you?  Your EP, ‘I Got You’, on Sublife Recordings hit the shelves on the 30th, anything else forthcoming that we should keep our eyes out for?
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Yeah the “I Got You” EP just dropped and I’m really happy to get that out.  That was one of the first tunes I made and really sat on that one for a long time.  Thankfully Lukeino with Sublife Recordings heard it and was interested in getting it out.  I really dig the remixes from Pawn and Lukeino!  As for other projects forthcoming, I have a “Easy Now” remix for Olie Bassweight and Werd 2 Jah that should be out very soon.  There’s a remix for did for Juakali’s “Standing Firm” that I haven’t got a confirmed date for just yet, but look out for that.   Also currently I’m wrapping up another EP, release info for that will be announced pretty soon.
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Seeing as you’ve been involved with the Los Angeles scene since it really formed into its own ‘scene’ (circa 07), what are your thoughts on the directions it’s gone, and where it is today?  Up until now we’ve only been able to get the perspective of producers that are only (for the most part) exposed to the US scene while on tour and such, so it will be nice to hear from someone who sees it at all times.
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The past 5 years have been crazy to say the least.  Back in 07 when I went to my first dubstep event it was a very small scene of people that were excited to hear a brand new form a music in a tiny club.  Flash forward to 2012 and there are sold out shows at legendary venues.  I don’t know any form of music that has gained that much popularity and acceptance that quickly.  There are so many directions the music has gone and that is mainly because there is so much potential in the eclectic directions you can take it. The amount of talent that comes through LA any given week is pretty incredible.  I don’t see myself leaving any time soon!
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What was the most memorable night that you have from LA’s dubstep history?  What makes it stand out that way?
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Well, its pretty hard to pinpoint one specific night.  There have been so many.  But there was a night at The Exchange in LA where Redbull hosted a culture clash with Smog, StonesThrow, Dim Mak and The Dub Club.  All 4 crews came together to battle each other in 15 minute rounds.  The vibe and excitement was thick!!  It came down to the wire between Smog and StonesThrow.  StonesThrow ended up winning the event in a very close call but it was amazing to have the acknowledgement for that status in LA.  For that we were pretty grateful and it made for a very special evening.  We also recently had a Smog vs Respect night at the House of Blues on Sunset.  We did it last year and both years have been very successful for a all local lineup.  LA is very supportive of its home players and that was also a very special event for us.
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Do you have any advice for producers that are looking to “come up” in the game?  Things to seek, things to avoid?
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I would say the biggest problem I see with producers trying to get noticed is trying to emulate popular artists.  This only makes it harder to get noticed because your style will sound common and wont have a unique brand to it.  Most label owners want to hear something new and exciting rather than something that will be stale in a month after release. Above all the most important thing is to have fun and try not to stress if you don’t hear back from labels.  Keep it moving, stay creative and have fun!  You can start up your own label and create your own brand now so there is always other options.
Considering the entire history of music, who is the one person that you would want to work with?  Dead or Alive (obviously).
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I’ve always been inspired by Danny Elfman’s work.  I think it would be challenging to try and score a film the way he does.  To lay down emotions behind scenes seems like such a fun project.  I also think Bonobo is a musical mastermind and would be honored to work with him.  So my dream collaboration would have to be working with those two on the same project.
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Who shot Biggie and Pac?
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Damn, thats a tough one.  I’d say it was all a cover up and both are sipping cocktails on a beach somewhere laughing at the whole Coachella hologram thing.  hahaha
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Wanna Big up anyone?
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Bigup to my Smog family, Lukeino at Sublife, Kial at Sub Pressure, Shift family in Seatle. Juakali and Olie Bassweight get massive shouts!  Bigup to eveyone who supports my music!  And finally Bigup to Bassweight Society for shedding light on deeper sounds across the globe!
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Again, a shout out to Kelly for his support with the interview!  I also want to shout out to SMOG for their dedication and deliverance to quality dubstep in California (and now spreading across the states!).
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Below you will find a mix that Kelly Dean uploaded for this feature from his live set on April 18, 2012, in support of Truth and Silkie.  This mix is jam-packed full of huge tunes!  A must listen.  Also, you will find links directing you to his Soundcloud, Facebook, and artist profile on the SMOG page.  Be sure to check them out and support the artist by purchasing his music!  Show the SMOG family some love too by stopping by their Facebook and dropping a line.
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That’s it for today!
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To the gods.
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-Kinman
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Killawatt: Exclusive Bassweight Society Interview

What’s up everybody!  We’re back with our monthly interview.  Today, we get words from a man who has established his presence with insurmountable speed.  Killawatt, nominated for best new producer in the Dubstepforum Awards this past year, is on a path straight to the top.  Securing releases on labels such as Black Box/Box Clever, Boka, New Moon, Subway, and DubPride, Matt Watt’s sound has been gaining a really large amount of support from the likes of Youngsta, Thinking, and many more.  All of this action seen has been within less than TWO years!  That is not to say that Killawatt is new to the music scene, though.  He got his hands on his first pair of decks back in 03′, and quickly began to make a name for himself in the jungle scene.  Fast forward to 2010, he is now co-operator of jungle label, Satta Sounds, and continues to carry on that passion.  But, he also gained a strong love for deep, minimal dubstep music.  After gaining his first release on New Zealand imprint DubPride, Matt had decided to part ways with the dubwise tunes he had currently been producing.  After taking classes in soundscaping and sound design he became very infatuated with the appeal of the ambient and cinematic aspects of dubstep.  The rest is history.  Making his debut appearance on Rinse fm in July of 2011, Killawatt has been smashing dance floors with his hard hitting mixing style.   As he continues to build his signature sound he is beginning to slowly drift into a seperate realm of classification. By that I mean that he is pretty much in a category of his own.  On the late he has been fusing a lot of techno influences into his 140 productions and is creating some of the heaviest rollers out there right now.  HUGE rolling kick drums, techno stabs that can make a good girl turn bad, and some of the most well-executed use of bongos the past year has seen, and there has been A LOT of bongo use in the tunes this past year.  His ability to incorporate the multitude of percussive instruments that he does has been, without a doubt, unrivaled in 2011.  Just recently he has had releases on Boka and New Moon and will see one shortly on Wheel & Deal.

Let’s see what the man has to say about the complaints of so-called “purists”, 140 jungle, and who shot Biggie and Tupac.

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BWS:  Alright, let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first.  Can you give the readers a little background about yourself.
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Killawatt:  Ez, I’m Matt Watt aka Killawatt and i’m currently based in Southsea. I’ve been producing dubstep for around 2 years now, dabbled in making scatty ragga jungle before  but never really took producing seriously until i got into dubstep late 2009. 
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BWS:  The percussive elements in your music are unreal man.  This is an attribute of your music that caught my attention when I first heard your sounds, and it has kept me hooked ever since.  Sometimes, in my opinion, people get too carried away with the focus on sub-bass, leaving other elements of the tune sub-par.  The fact that you are able to recognize the importance of each element and then successfully harness that importance is one of the best things about your style.  Do you use a lot of sampling when building your music or do you play intruments live? Or both?
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Killawatt:  I use a hell of a lot of samples for pretty much all aspects of my music. I never really used to be into sampling, probably because i didn’t really know how to make good use of it, but recently it has taken hold of my productions, largely due to the influence of Ipman and renowned sample based producers such as Amon Tobin. Ipman works as a sound designer and sampling is obviously a major part of that so we’re always talking about it and thats influenced me a lot. It’s also because sampling and resampling opens up so many sonic possibilities. You can create sounds and textures that you could never recreate using purely synthesis, the organicism of real sounds provides an extra layer of depth that really lifts the music. I also like the unpredictability of using sounds i’ve recorded myself or that somebody else has, you don’t have complete control over all the parameters so i think it makes me work harder to achieve a sound i want.  I very rarely play live instruments in. I can play the trombone and the guitar and i have recently started using them in a couple of secret side projects i have on the go, its actually been quite inspiring playing them again so i think it is something i will do a lot more of. Over time i’d like to build up a collection of instruments, both common and obscure, so that i can make use of acoustic and electronic instruments equally.
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BWS:  Your turnover rate for tunes is extremely high.  Is production your only full-time job?  If yes, what did you do to accumulate all your studio equipment before beats were paying your bills?
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Killawatt:  Well, i suppose you’d have to call it my full-time job since i don’t have a job and i do it pretty much full-time. That does not mean, however, that it pays my bills! I’m sure i will start to earn a half decent living off it at some point but its hard work scraping the pennies together at the moment. Luckily my parents are very supportive of me so they are helping me get along for a few months until i start earning more from producing/DJing or until i get a job. I’m pretty lucky in that sense really!
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BWS:  As a fan myself, I have a very large respect for the appreciation that you express to your supporters.  Maybe not in a verbose manner necessarily, but in the tunes that you give out for free.  Usually it’s quite obvious why an artist is giving their particular tune(s) out for free; they were old, unfinished projects thrown together half-assedly at the very last moment.  Your free music, however, is of the same top-notch quality as the music you release on respected labels such as Black Box, Boka, and New Moon.  Is this something that you set out to do?
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Killawatt:  I love sharing my music, it gets me into a bit of trouble with my peers sometimes but i write so much music, and so much of it will never see the light of day unless i give it out for free. I don’t see the point of uploading everything i make to soundcloud if half of its never going to get released or played so i may as well give it out. I would never give out anything i haven’t played or know i wouldn’t play so i suppose thats why they are of that quality. The end of last year went a bit over the top with the free giveaways, literally everybody was doing it and to be brutally honest some of the music that got given away from pretty awful, was almost embarrassing.  I’ve already compiled 2 free EP’s ready to giveaway the promote releases this year so you have them to look forward to! 
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BWS:  Lately you have been making tunes that have a more techno vibe to them.  Can we expect 2012 to be filled with releases like these?
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Killawatt:  haha yes you can expect a LOT more like this. Techno is my main passion at the moment so it was always going to filter down into my own productions. I’m not really making your standard 128 4×4 techno, i’ve tried but i can never shrug off my dubstep production so it ends sounding a bit crap. I’ve gone back to the 140 bpm tempo and tried to incorporate aspects of techno into it and people seem to like it so i think i’ll keep making it! I can’t really make half-step anymore, since ive been producing this more upbeat and energetic style, half-step has just seemed a bit labarious and sluggish, theres just not enough energy in most of the stuff coming out whereas with these techno influenced rollers with the big relentless kick drum lines and the pounding subs there is just so much natural energy, you move instinctively to the music whether you like it or not because of the sheer physicality of it and the rhythms that have been engrained in us over the past millenia from ancient ‘tribal’ music. I say ‘tribal’ because there has been a recent trend in everything with one bongo in being tagged as tribal music, its utter rubbish and is something i find pretty annoying to be completely honest. I’ll stop ranting!  Expect to hear plenty more of this sound this year though, either at 140 or 134 bpm!
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BWS:  There has been a sufficient amount of hype surrounding the 140 jungle that is currently being pushed by artists like Arc88, Benton, Dismantle, etc.  What is your take on it?  Considering that you used to produce jungle/own Satta Sounds, do you see yourself putting out tunes of this vein?  Or have you already, and we just haven’t heard them yet?
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Killawatt:  I’m not a fan, although i was smashing Dismantles terrain EP, they’ve got that older jungle aesthetic but with very up to date production and most importantly sound massive through a system.  Again its one of these things where people run out of ideas so they hark back to an older style and then claim its new, most of the time anyway. The majority of it sounds pretty weak compared to actual jungle, with looped 4-bar breaks that have had basically no processing, or have been processed completely wrong. Jungle was well ahead of its time and this stuff just isn’t. The most authentic 140 jungle tune ive heard is Ipmans remix of my track ‘Sidewinder’ that was released on the Black Boxxx series in december, the man knows how to chop up a break or too! I suppose because of my background in jungle i will always have this view. I still love jungle and really miss playing it out, it’s so fun to mix, and a lot more challenging than dubstep in my opinion. I have tried a few times to make jungle again but the production values are so different to dubstep that i just can’t really do it anymore. I’m sure i’ll make it again someday but just not quite yet!  Big ups to the Satta Sounds crew, making big moves in the jungle scene this year!
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BWS:  There has been, among a select population, a growing discontentment for the current state of the genre.  These are typically the people who complain about dubstep not being “underground” enough anymore, or just plain “dead”.  I have a really hard time with those kind of claims, mainly due musicians like yourself, Compa, Phaeleh, Von D, and so many others.  Your sounds are fresh, forward-thinking, and exhibit uniquity, so how someone can claim that dubstep is dead is beyond me.  Where do you see yourself going with your music in the next year or so?  Do you have any insight on where the genre as a whole is heading?
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Killawatt:  Those people need to get a grip on life. This discontentment is something i find very irritating. There is so much good, new music being made and released but these people are either too lazy to go looking for, jumping on a bandwagon or are just bitter. I for one am really happy that dubstep has found the masses. Obviously the biggest crowd pullers are playing the more aggressive and obnoxious style of the sound but who says something isn’t allowed to evolve and adapt? Thats just what the majority are into and fair enough, if they have a good time listening or dancing to it then i don’t see how its a bad thing. Even if just 1% of the people who have discovered dubstep in the last year take the opportunity to delve deeper into the underground then that surely is a good thing? Without it going mainstream, J:Kenzo wouldn’t be doing his Daily Dose of Dubstep on Mistajams show and Skream & Benga would never had got their INDWT show and now their weekly friday night show. They have been representing both the mainstream and the underground consistently on 2 of the biggest radio stations in the country…how can that possibly be a negative thing?!  I honestly don’t have a clue where its all heading, and thats the most exciting thing about it. It will just keep mutating over time, giving birth to more and more different styles. I think dubstep has been a mini paradigm shift in music. Drum & Bass was too much of a clique to really do anything massively beneficial in genre development and house/techno/trance/garage had all gone a bit stale until dubstep came along. Now i think all the genres within EDM feed off each other and thats why there’s so much interesting music being made at the moment, even though a lot of people would say otherwise. Moreover, all genres within the whole of music feed off eachother now, not just EDM.  I see myself just doing what im doing now and hoping things go to plan!!
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BWS:  What should the readers be on the look out for, as far as releases from yourself, in the next few months?
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Killawatt:  January was a fairly hectic month with 4 releases coming out within 3 weeks of eachother. There’ll be a bit of a break now i think. Look out for my 2nd release on Wheel & Deal, my remix of Radikal Guru’s ‘Dread Commandments’ on Moonshine recordings alongside more Radikal Guru remixes by RSD, Hatti Vatti and Adam Prescott.  I have plenty more for the rest of this year already but thats all under wraps for now…there should be some news soon though so hold tight!
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BWS:  Alright, now, just for fun……
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BWS:  Who shot biggie and tupac?
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Killwatt:  MC Hammer
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BWS:  If you were stranded on an island and could only keep with you the following things, what would they be? 1 vinyl, 1 DAW, 1 piece of hardware, and 1 sandwich.
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Killawatt:  The vinyl would be Pink Floyds ‘Wish You Were Here’ – amazing album! Provokes pretty much all your emotions!  Don’t think i’d really be bothered about having a DAW if i was stranded on a desert island. Pretty useless really considering i wouldn’t have a computer!  My choice of hardware would be a solar powered fridge…pretty useful.  My sandwich would be cheese, ham, gherkins, mayonnaise and branstons pickle in homemade white bread! the king of sandwiches!
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BWS:  If you had the ability to make music with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? and what one question would you ask that person?
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Killawatt:  Would have to be Hendrix, he was just a straight up badman! I’d ask why he didn’t read the label on those sleeping pills!!
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BWS:  What would you consider to be the most ideal setting for your performances?  Who would you want to be there?
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Killawatt:  On a beach in the Maldives with my girlfriend, family, friends and all my favorite musicians! sounds like paradise to me!
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We just want to give a massive shout out to Killawatt for taking the time to answer these questions for us!  Respect.
Below you will find links to Killawatt’s Facebook, Soundcloud, and Myspace.  Make sure you check out his music if you haven’t been fortunate enough to yet.  Support the artists, BUY THEIR MUSIC!
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Thanks for reading everybody, make sure to watch this page as we have another great interview lined up for March!  Go ahead, start guessing ;).
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To the gods.
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-Bassweight Society (Kinman)