Published on February 28th, 2014 | by Fifties
Interview with Krafty Kuts & Wicked City
[Ju] Hi Martin – It’s been aggeess since I’ve seen you, how are ya?
[Note: Krafty is sitting on the floor of his studio with his computer. I know this as he’s just posted a pic of himself and the boys on facebook! There’s loads of random noise making going in the background! Working on a hook by the sounds… aha!]
[Martin] Good thanks, today we’ve been writing some new Wicked City! Working on a collab with a guy called Skope. Dirt meets funk!
[Ju] Cheers for agreeing to the chat as I know you’re mad busy. We’re dying to find out a bit more about your new live outfit “Wicked City”! Can you tell us about the ethos of the band and the sound you’ll be pushing?
[Martin] Basically for a long long time Ive always wanted to put a band together as I love funk, Jazz, Soul and hip hop. I’ve been heavily influenced by that throughout my life, but never been given the opportunity to create that type of music. Sometimes it just takes time for everything to fall into place. We’ve got Dynamite MC on the vocals, Erbndub who is a drummer and Steve playing keyboards. He works for Yamaha. They’ve given me the opportunity to do that. We thought it was a good time and great opportunity to start a band. I’d call our sound Future Funk!
[Ju] So….you’ve toured the world over year after year, and gained notoriety as an iconic DJ most notably for your wild turntable skills and sumptuous broken grooves. Obviously your formula has worked for years as you keep touring. Why did you take the decision to form a live band?
[Martin] Obviously timing, but I felt like it would be brilliant to take it a step further and have my Krafty Kuts music played live… just bringing back the funk but adding that extra Wicked City vibe! Its all about transforming the classic funk sound to now… I’ve been influenced by artists like Kill Paris, Grammatik… well, just immensley inspired by these American bass heads that just take old style music and revamp it.
[Ju] B-Y-N-K-M on NSB forum asked how you came by the name of Wicked City and whether you’re a big fan of anime and hentai?
[Martin] Yes I am. Definitely manga and I just love that name! I do believe that names are massively important. All the best artists are easy to remember!
[Ju] I know you’re working with ErbnDub, who’s a crazy good drum and bass DJ. We played at Analogue To Digital Sound Expo in Exeter last year. I saw him teach a production masterclass there too… ahead of his game he is for sure. Can you tell us a bit more about your groove compadres in the band and how/ why you chose them for the job?
[Martin] We’ve got Dynamite MC on the vocals, he’s an accomplished vocalist, he can sing, he can rap and really knows how to hype up the crowd! He’s always been a big part of Krafty Kuts in the past 10 years, We’ve played to 15,000 – 40,000 people in a crowd before, like at Glasto, Glade, Big Day Out! We work really well together so he was an obvious choice. We are lucky and blessed to have him! He loves the vibe!
We’ve got Steve Barton on keys from Yamaha, he’s an amazing keyboard player! Absolutely lives and breathes 80s funk, soul and disco and fitted the profile perfectly. He’s soul brother no1! A really happy guy and genuinely lovely guy to work with. It’s so nice to have that type of person around you. He’s a magician!
I’ve worked with Chris Sargeant for 15 years now! He remxed UKG’s Let Me Be Your Fantasy on Trick or Treat, you remember that? He was a perfect person to bring into the live band. Krafty Kuts is me and Chris as he is my sound engineer. I thought this would be a great opportunity for him to be a live part of the band and show off his skills. He’s the jack of all trades – He scratches, produces, and is a wicked engineer!
I met ErbNDub through a friend, Simon. I heard his DnB stuff and liked it, so suggested he do a remix for me. I thought “this guys really good” and then I got speaking to him on the phone and our friendship blossomed from there and as time went on, we both came up with the idea of Wicked City. He’s such an awesome drummer and we love working together. He’s like my long lost brother, we’re so similar. He’s so hard working, I love an honest hard working person. Slowly but surely we’re getting where we want to go.
[Ju] What kit are you using?
[Martin] Drums – Custom made jazz kit (vintage), Ableton Push, Yamaha keyboards, Cubase & Ableton. As time goes by we’re hoping to add a female vocalist and a bass player….
[Ju] The visual impact of a show can have as much influence on the hearts and minds of the floor as the quality of music. What you got cooking on the eye candy front?
[Martin] We’ve got a company who have worked with Skrillex, Prodigy, Knife Party, Chase & Status. We want to create a 70s funk look and incorporate manga style. Hip hop raw footage and create something unique. Futuristic V Old… so cities crumbling, lots of people jumping up and partying but all animated. We’re really trying to create our own style and echo our videos similarly to that.
[Ju] You recently had the launch gig for Wicked City at Electric, Brixton, London. Sadly I didn’t make it to the show, I saw the video you posted afterwards though! The venue was jackin’. Was it indeed Electric?
[Martin] Indeed it was. Wicked city has given me a whole new lease of life! I feel like I’m starting out all over again! We are so excited about whats going to happen next.
[Ju] Obviously when you introduce a whole bunch of instruments to a show you’re upping the chances of something going wrong technically. Were you nervous?
I was SO nervous! I was controlling the backing music so it could have totally gone “tits up”. The band were all relying on me using Ableton Push, but it went perfectly! I organized the party which sold out to 1800 people. Couldn’t have expected anything better than how it went!
[Ju] Thanks for dropping Wicked City’s first release “Sensation” on your Instant Vibes label over to LSM. We’ve picked up the DJ mix and we’ll be releasing that with the interview. You’ve had 46,000+ plays on those in practically nano-seconds….
[Martin] Really pleased with the reaction to those. Twitter and fan pages are coming along nicely. I’m not saying we’re going to take over the world, just we want to create something new and get really good songs and make them sound really fresh, fun and funky. I hope people realise this is not a way for me to make money, this is my own “something” Ive wanted to do for a long long time. Just trying to take into account all my styles and influences and give people back something different….
[Ju] Any ideas when we can expect some more tracks to be released?
[Martin] We’re finishing off a 3 track EP which we’re putting out as free downloads. It should be finished in around 3 weeks time, There’s a VIP mix of Sensation, another called Reach and another called Knockout.
We’ve got 2 new remixes, one is Dub FX and the other an Aussie band called Northbrook. We’re also remixing Gangsta Trippin – Fat Boy Slim and the classic Freestylers Push Up, oh and another 3 tracks on the go! In between those we’re rehearsing more live stuff.
[Ju] Everyone is dying to see the band. Can you confirm any tour dates yet?
[Martin] Lots coming in. There’s a few in UK and other countries… I’m not sure if we can say just yet. Keep an eye on these!
[Ju] You’re deeply seated in breaks and hip hop and have been a massive advocate for both scenes. Ag4111 on NSB forum wanted me to ask you “why is breakbeat so sh*t nowadays?”. He is extremely partial to a broken groove. How do you feel about the state of breaks today?
[Martin] If you think about when we had breakbeat 5/ 10 years ago, you had artists like lee coombs, freq nasty, plumps, soul of man, adam freeland, evil 9 etc… all these people have drifted away a bit, so we don’t have that stable background now. There’s only a few still writing breaks and there’s not enough of it, so it’s lost its way a bit. It is finding its feet again now though for sure and there are signs of its return! I’ve played in Spain, Canada, and hungary recently… their scene is flourishing! I played a show to 5000 people in Romania too, they absolutely love their breaks! Basically Breakbeat lost alot of its cool artists and its taking time for the new producers to shine through. Beatman & Ludmilla, DJ Icey, Columbo, Deekline always support the breaks though.
[Ju] Some of the lads on NSB forum say there’s rumours of you using a ghostwriter for your production, remixes… even producing your DJ sets! Apparently “its a well known secret between the breaks producers”. Were you aware of these whispers? Can you dispel the myth…?
[Martin] No to set the record straight, I don’t use a ghostwriter. I wrote Krafty Kuts music with Chris Sargeant and with Ed Solo. If you look on the credits for my music you’ll see that.
[Ju] Ovatone asked me to ask you if you’ve ever MC’d?
[Martin] I have got on the mic before, unfortunately after a few beverages! Not been the best timing wise, and I’ve lived to regret that!
[Ju] And finally…. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
[Martin] I never ever ever get bored of what I do! I am fully committed to pushing the sound of Krafty Kuts and Wicked City and all the music I work with. I just want to keep entertaining and making people happy and try to keep being one step ahead of the game. The reason I did alot of edits, was to keep my DJ sets fresh. If I had a ghostwriter I would’ve put out so many more tracks! That’s why Krafty Kuts has only released 3 albums. I want to keep my sound exciting. Things will only get better and go forward. Future Funk all the way baby!
[Ju] Thanks so much for your time Martin. it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you again! Can’t wait to see what else you and the boys have in store for us from “Wicked City”! Hopefully I’ll catch a show with you again sometime soon!