Stamp Mix #74: Krystal Klear

Krystal Klear

∞∞∞ A tribute to the disco house sound of America ∞∞∞

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2016 has been a good year for Krystal Klear by anyone’s standards. He recently celebrated five years of presenting a show on Rinse FM, landed a release on SAM Records who have been one of his biggest influences in boogie and disco and has a busy touring schedule that has seen him playing alongside the shakers and movers of the scene like Gerd Janson. Despite this he still holds down a residency for Hoya:Hoya in Manchester, where he lives, and is always keen to speak highly of his peers like Jon K and Illum Sphere; a testament to the deep digging, grounded attitude that has overseen his slow but steady rise through the scene over the last few years. With the release on SAM just around the corner, KK digs deep for a 90 minute tribute mix to the disco house sound of America.

Conversion – Let’s Do It (Krystal Klear Remixes) is out 9th Sep – pre-order from Rey Eye.

What’s your first musical memory?

Making drum kits out of biscuit tins with my wee sister in Dublin and filling empty Pringles tubes with rice, tormenting the entire household aged six.

Did you play any musical instruments?

Guitar since I was ten. In hindsight I am delighted that I learnt guitar as it taught me rhythm, but I would have loved to have studied piano. I can play bass and piano roughly but I wouldn’t be Flea or Stevie.

In previous interviews, you’ve professed a love for Manchester and its rich musical culture. Is this love affair coming to an end or will you be there for the foreseeable future?

Well, I lived there for eight years so it certainly played a huge part on my life and even bigger part on how I make, play and DJ music. I don’t live there anymore and moving back is not on the horizon but I still have a studio there so never say never I guess. I love Manchester, the people are the best. The city is not the prettiest but the people are rich with beauty and offer a huge amount to the individuals who are trying to be creative.

How has Hoya:Hoya progressed over the last few years? Do you feel as though the closure of The Roadhouse is something that will affect the nature of the party, given that was its home for such a long period?

The closure of the Roadhouse in Manchester is as significant to the closure of fabric in London. It has played a dramatic effect on Hoya but we are a strong unit that has been going a long time so for us this change is a welcome one and we are currently orchestrating the next move. Hoya is a group of friends and not a club night trying to stay a float. I say that with all due respect to those running club nights as obviously they are run by friends too, but for us it’s a reunion and a special moment for us to all be together in one room with the direction everyone’s careers have taken. So there is no pressure for us to be trying to put on a Hoya every month or week, it happens when it happens and when it does it’s always very special.

You recently went on Rinse FM with your dad to celebrate five years on the station. What have been your best memories from the station over the years?

Well it was actually four years but mostly to celebrate my Dad’s 60th as he used to be a pirate DK so I figured it would be the perfect gift. My best memory hands down was having my Dad on the show but apart from that it was when I did a show dedicated to The Loft and had about 30 people up to my studio in Manchester and we recorded four hours of radio live while having a massive party. Illum Sphere, Jon K and myself DJd that night and we had three microphones set up to capture the ambience of the room. It was a huge risk but it sounded great and was without a doubt one of my favourite shows.

Your career seems to have been building up personal milestones, be it getting into the RBMA academy, five years of Rinse FM, and now your recent release on SAM records, what would you like to be achieving in the next few years?

Well I have huge plans for Cold Tonic, which are currently taking place. Big risks but hopefully stuff that will be executed correctly, promptly and enjoyed by the world. Apart from that I have stripped back on DJing and built a new studio to solely finish an album FOR ONCE AND FOR ALL. That is the main focus.

Aside from Cold Tonic, would you ever look to start a reissue label? 

Mmm…never say never but not likely. I don’t think I know a lot about the end of the world so I would rather leave that to the experts and enjoy buying the quality re-issues that are dropping weekly.

The old school soul and disco sound is clearly where your heart lies now, so if you could go back in time and work with any singer or musician to produce a record, who would it be and why?

It’s where my heart has lied since my first release or even since my first attempt making music. I would love to work with Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis or Jacques Fred Patrus/Mauro Malavasi from BB and Q band. Patrick Cowley (RIP), Patrick Adams and Teddy Riley haha the list really goes on. I’d love to make a house record with Johnny D and Nicky P…sat in a studio in Brooklyn with an MPC a 40 and some bodega treats while it’s snowing. I would have loved to have recorded with Phyllis Hyman as her vocals are mindblowing, she has a distinctive tone like Jocelyn Brown or Diana Ross that stands out amongst the rest. I would also love to produce The Isley Brothers as it would be amazing to work with such an incredible group of musicians.

To reverse the question, what contemporary singer or musician would you currently like to work with?

Beyonce, Dev Hynes, Tame Impala, The Internet, The Invisible, Hudson Mohawke and Ariana Grande.

Would you ever rekindle your love of hip-hop from a production point of view?

I regularly put my wannabe Kenny Dope hat on and swing out some hip-hop beats in the studio when I creep across a nice sample and of course would delve into that world if the artist I was working with wanted something in that vein. I have found myself recently making a lot of disco house which has found me digging through my old sample libraries looking for good hip-hop samples that haven’t been flipped (to my ignorant knowledge) on a house beat but whether or not they will be heard is another thing.

What new / young talent should we be keeping an eye on at the moment?

I am releasing a new crew from New Zealand this year called Sandboards whom Maurice Alexander discovered one afternoon and they are banging. Denis Sulta is one severe form which is amazing. Another young vocalist called Semma is worth checking too.

Could you tell us about the mix you’ve made for us [where and how you recorded it, the idea behind the mix and any standout tracks you’d like to mention]

In the current rise of “the DJ” it seems like the Internet has devalued the lost art of creating a mixtape. I grew up on the foundation of buying mixtapes, be it the sample lesson from Kon & Amir or outrageous dance cassettes by Perfecto. Either way they felt curated, while now I feel a lot of what is presented is either a tool to get shows or online “hype” OR to stamp ownership on a track. This has been around since the beginning of time so that doesn’t bother me too much, but for me, the art is lost and it’s rare I listen to any mixtapes these days and find that.

For this mixtape I wanted to express that curation by balancing a selection of non-heavily-played material but straight to the point and create something people can listen to at home or out to get them in the mood to get down.

Disco house is naturally a genre that holds a huge, deep rooted place in my musical heritage. Like most of my generation, Homework by Daft Punk opened up a new realm for us and I owe a huge part of my taste in dance music to that LP. I spend more time scouring the web, record crates or collections for those left handed, forgotton about, defunct labels that held one or two random disco cuts over an MPC break and, alongside some favourites, this is what I present to you.

Every track in this mixtape is based on a disco sample and I tried to balance it as best I could between stuff everyone has heard (so tough not to throw in the entire Henry St Discography) and new old stuff to keep it fresh. 90% of this mixtape is American music, mainly from New York, Chicago and Detroit but I included some crafty cuts from other areas of the world who tip there hat to this sound also. Excuse any issues with the audio, 80% was recorded straight from wax and a lot of these records were pressed very poorly, I did my best with the EQ to make them shine.

I haven’t decided about posting the tracklist yet but there are four tracks in this mix that I am releasing this year alongside that I want to excuse the sound quality of the flip of O’Jays ‘I love Music” by Johnny Vicious as I know it sounds BRUTAL but I have bought three copies of this rare bootleg and every copy (even sealed) sound terrible, to the point I even connect Johnny Vicious for a copy of the DAT and he said that wasn’t possible for legal reasons. But it’s the best version of this track I have ever heard, especially as it’s been re-hashed to death, which makes it ten times more special that Johnny created a new vibe with it.

What’s coming up on the horizon we should look out for? 

I have a lot coming in the next few months. A brand new project dropping in November, which I can’t shout about yet then I have another release coming on Cold Tonic by Sandboards and my own solo EP on the horizon until album time!

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