Stepper Man, 2017
Iconoclastic bass music maven Kissy Sell Out has forged a unique path through the dance scene over his eleven-year career, highlights of which include remixing the likes of Calvin Harris, Mark Ronson and The Human League, hosting a Radio 1 show, and even bootlegging R.E.M.’s Nightswimming in a Baltimore club style. Most recently, he’s launched a new bassline-influenced label, Stepper Man, which features releases from a selection of upcoming artists as well as Kissy under his original and new KSO monikers. Future Music hooked up with the muscular man himself in his Shoreditch studio to find out more about his current direction, and the jump-up D&B-influenced track
Nasty in particular.
What was the inspiration behind KSO - Nasty?
“I’ve been releasing tracks as Kissy Sell Out, but also under the name KSO. When I do KSO tracks, they’re usually a bit more experimental, so there’ll be a new idea I’m just toying with. I’m just really excited about this one because I think I kind of nailed it. It’s quite a nice feeling making a bassline banger like this! I like the idea of taking the ’90s funky drum ’n’ bass style Aphrodite and Mickey Finn were famous for – they used hip-hop conventions, a nice piano loop and stuff like that, and then put some D&B bits in doubling the speed. I’m doing that but with UK bassline percussion and I think that’s quite cool idea, it’s quite fun! I’m quite excited about it. What’s funny is that as soon as I finished this tune I did another single as Kissy Sell Out with one of the artists on my label called Sirmo. The track is called Badman
VIP and it’s kind of similar. I was really happy with the style and the vibe on this one.”
You’ve got an unorthodox approach to production, starting with a project full of sounds and loops that gets you going.
“You know there’s nothing more intimidating than a blank canvas, like you open up your session file and you could do anything. The thing I love about dance music is the rules! I guess that’s why
“The thing I love about dance music is the rules! I guess that’s why I never went into playing acoustic guitar or something. If you’re going to write a love song or something, there are a lot of questions: What BPM is it going to be? Are you going to use a violin or what?”
I never went into playing acoustic guitar or something. If you’re going to write a love song or something there are a lot of questions: what BPM is it going to be, are you going to use a violin or what? I like using the constraints of dance music, you can actually have a lot more vibrant creativity; you know what speed it’s going to be, you know it’s intended to be played a nightclub, you know it’s intended to be played loud in someone’s car, you know it’s going to be played when someone is getting ready for a party or something. So now now you’ve got that focus you can just use some old ideas. It means I can work really, really quickly. I update it all time as well, so I have to make sure that I back everything up!”
Where did this approach come from?
“I originally invented it that for when I was doing my Radio 1 show, I have those ‘Kissy Klub’ versions which are remixes, but made especially for the show. I discovered a quick way of working was to have it was to save a template. When I started doing this I also had things like Baltimore beats and famous break loops and stuff to pop over the top of things. What’s quite nice is that over the years my template has become mostly full of my own beats. So it’s less about sampling and mixing and matching, It’s more about my style, and the speed at which I can do these things, which is why I
think it’s really helpful. It’s quite invigorating to be able to basically make a tune or remix within ten minutes. You just get the idea down – and you know dance music is all about ideas – so you want to sort of grab onto that thing and get it down as quickly as possible!”
How do you get that characteristic garage swing?
“The reason speed-garagey percussion has that kind of swing is because it’s because it’s slightly out of time. Going back to this idea of getting the ideas down as quickly as possible, you’ve got a choice: a lot of producers would sit there and play with the timing over and over again, spending half an hour trying to get that right. What’s happened is I’ve spent half an hour figuring out that off-time rhythm previously, and then I’ve included it in the template file. I’ll cut the sample on the grid so I can use that off-time sample, or replace it with another one very quickly. You want to keep that idea going before you get bored or something, so it’s really important to just produce pretty quickly. You want to capture that magic!”