Before making a name for himself as a solo DJ, however, he forged a lasting alliance with another of the UK’s leading turntablists Adam “A-Skillz” Mills. In order to commemorate ten years since their breakthrough release Tricka Technology, the pair have once again reunited and will be showing Australian audiences how it’s done at a string of festival and club dates this summer. I had the pleasure of speaking to Krafty Kuts on the phone after he’d spent a busy day in the studio in preparation for their Aussie adventure. “We’ve just been working on a new track which has been going really well,” enthuses Krafty Kuts. “We’re just getting ourselves prepared for an onslaught of Australia at Christmas. We’re working on a new DJ set together and putting together loads of edits, kind of getting ourselves organised and prepared for such a big run of crazy dates.”
It’s a tour that will see the pair hit Breakfest in Perth on Boxing Day, Peats Ridge Festival in NSW, New Year’s Eve at New Zealand’s Rhythm and Vines festival, Field Day in Sydney, Summerfieldayz in Adelaide and Brown Alley in Melbourne. He also adds that there’s “a cheeky little one sandwiched in somewhere which I’m not gonna say” so be on the lookout for a secret show. As Krafty Kuts reels off this extensive itinerary to me it’s audible in his voice that he’s clearly excited about every date, as each show has something different to offer, be it the size of the crowd, the uniqueness of the venue itself or the lineup of artists with whom he and A-Skillz get to share the stage.
Wherever they play one thing is for sure: Krafty Kuts and A-Skillz will be there to get the party rocking. “Our DJ sets are basically everything thrown into the mix: drum and bass, breaks, electro, a bit of house, dubstep, hip hop but we do it in a really clever, cheeky way. We throw in a few classic rock tunes just to throw people off and just make our sets really exciting, push the boundaries a little bit.” It’s all party music at the end of the day I offer. He agrees. “Exactly! I’m not there for the chin strokers. It’s all about showing people something fresh, exciting and new but also not forgetting that people wanna get down and have a good time.”
Being a DJ who is no stranger to huge open air festival arenas as well as dark and sweaty clubs, I query whether he has a preference as to which kind of venue he likes to play. As a DJ who clearly loves to play out, it’s not surprising that he can find many reasons to enjoy both. “Obviously playing to 10 or 20 thousand people is always a bit of a buzz without a doubt. But sometimes playing a two hour set in a club and going on a bit of a journey, you step away afterwards feeling like ‘yeah I really enjoyed that. I smashed that’. But a festival set can be over so quickly because you’re only on for an hour and it’s literally bang bang bang and you’ve got to play what the people expect and it’s over before you’ve had time to enjoy it.
“But, sometimes if you get into a groove at a festival and you allow your music to breathe, the tunes are doing the damage and you’re jumping up and down behind the decks and everyone’s going for it then that is a really good vibe.
“Like last week I was playing after the Stereophonics in front of like ten thousand people and it was such a buzz to go on after such a good act. There was a really good energy in the crowd and I dropped lots of big tracks and they were going for it. It was a good tester for me for when me and Adam (A-Skillz) come out to do our thing in Australia.”
One aspect of playing festivals that is relatively unmatched within the world of clubbing is the increasingly elaborate stage set-ups that are afforded by the increased space of playing in the open air. It was brought to my attention by a friend in the UK that Krafty Kuts had the privilege of playing on the legendary Arcadia stage at a festival this summer. The stage began life at Glastonbury but now travels the UK during festival season and it has to be seen to be believed. Look it up on YouTube, it’s mind-blowing. It’s clear by his response that the experience was surely one of the highlights of his DJing career. “My god if you saw the pictures you’d be amazed,” he exclaims in his thick London accent. “It was like something out of that Tom Cruise movie War of The Worlds! It’s fucking ridiculous. If they had anything like that in Australia people would be blown away. It’s amazing and it’s just like, I can’t explain it to you. There’s fire coming out of everywhere and crazy shit. That was special definitely.”
So we established that here is a DJ that definitely enjoys getting behind the decks in front of a crowd, be it in a club or atop a giant mechanical fire shooting spider thing. But Krafty Kuts is no stranger to the studio either. Earlier this year he released a follow up full length album to Freakshow entitled Let’s Ride choice cuts from which fans can expect to hear this summer. Him and A-Skills also released a cheeky remix to celebrate 50 years of James Bond that enjoyed a level of success that was surprising to both DJs, racking up over a hundred thousand hits on YouTube and even getting mainstream radio airplay.
From the way he talks about the studio and his releases however, it’s clear that Krafty Kuts gets his main thrills from actually playing live to a crowd. Whereas for some artists their art is all about creating recorded music, with playing live almost being a necessary evil in order to self-promote and raise revenue, with Krafty Kuts the opposite true. He makes bangers so he can play them for a crowd. He goes so far as to say that he probably won’t even release another album, only tracks here and there. He emphasises the point with an anecdote. “Last week I was in Dubai and I was about to play a new track that I’d just done and I said to my manager, ‘Watch when I drop this’. The track was called Drop and it was the last track of the day and when it kicked in the place just went ballistic. It was such a good feeling so it’s kind of weird the vibe between making a track and playing it out, it’s an incredible feeling to know that people are going off to your track it’s truly unique to be honest.”
BY ADAM ROBERTSHAW