With his second album, Wild Romance, having been released to critical acclaim, and with his long standing radio one slot, an international touring roster and his own label, San City High, climbing to new heights, it’s fair to say that it has been one hell of a year for Kissy Sell Out.
Plain and Simple we’re lucky enough to grab an exclusive interview with the man himself, ahead of his final tour date for the Turn it up tour at Electric Brixton this weekend, to talk music, gigs and guerrilla video shoots.
One thing that you notice as soon as you talk to Kissy, is his genuine enthusiasm and passion. When he says he’s pleased to be speaking to me, he really does sound like he means it. At the tender age of 27 Kissy has experienced a level of fame that it takes many electronic artists years to achieve, but rather then start-up brat he is genially humble, as if he can’t really believe the way his life has turned out.
The Turn it Out tour has taken in venues up and down the country, so firstly I enquire as to how it has gone. “It’s been going fantastic, it’s been pretty tiring as its the longest tour I have ever done, but it’s the big London show this weekend so I’m pretty excited, we’ve got Rusko coming down so I can’t wait really.” So have you got any surprises in store seeing as this brings the tour to an end? “I’ve just got a new set of decks actually form the lovely people at pioneer so I’m going to be having a little practice before that night, so I’m sure they’ll be a few new concepts find their way in before the weekend!”
Kissy’s current show see’s him using 4 decks together, so how does that all come together? “It’s a convenience thing really, I just mix so quickly now, it’s very important to me to do a physical performance, so there’s something to watch as well as something to listen to. I really get a kick of doing it, and I think the crowd get a kick out of watching it. I’m doing something that’s quite complex and technically demanding; it could all fall apart at any minute so it adds that element of danger, which is quite invigorating.”
So the second album, wild romance, was releases earlier this year, was the process different to your 2009 debut? “With this one I knew exactly what I wanted to do, it completely summarises where I am it, as an engineer, producer and writer I guess. A lot of the ideas that I was doing every week in my DJ sets, felt like practicing for wild romance, because obviously it’s very difficult to incorporate classical instruments with bass-led dance music, but its only now really that I feel I have had enough experience to do an album that’s so complicated. To do it properly, to get it to so sound big and stuff, and it’s been a really great feeling to release something and think that it iss the best thing I have ever done.”
Kissy was heavily involved in whole process on Wild Romance, engineering, paying instruments, even mastering, so I wonder if this is something that’s important to him, taking a 360 degree approach to his work? “I don’t really understand why anyone else should help you with your music, if you’re doing a painting you don’t get someone else to paint in the corners for you do you? I’ve grown up being completely unaware of things like engineers, so it never crossed my mind to do that. With my first album there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen, cause I was thrown together with a lot of people, the mastering wasn’t done by me on the first album and now I listen back to it I think there are things that could sound better. It’s come from working with my San City High artists, working on mixdowns with them and helping them make their records sound really big, it’s given me a lot more experience, a lot more confidence in the studio to do it myself” Even though Kissy is talking about being confident in what he does, you can almost hear him blushing down the phone.
In dance music terms, Kissy is still a junior age wise, so has his role as mentor and leader at San City caused him to grow up? “Absolutely, before I used to be quite a timid chap, an attention seeker, but a bit shy, I kind of contradicted my media image. I turn up for my DJ sets and sheepishly raise my hand like, er hi…but when I did the San City High tour, I realised that all the other artists kind of looked up to me, like an older brother, I knew I had to step up. For the first time ever I came out in to the crowd really early to dance to their sets, I thought, if people see me dancing to these DJ’ s they’d be more likely to dance to them, because they’d never heard of them before. And that’s exactly what happened. I learnt a lot from just being on the dance floor and having a good time with people that felt like my new brothers and sisters so that was a really good feeling for me. It was a joint benefit, it made me a man.”
Is it because you were the young kid at radio one, you feel can relate? “I know what it’s like basically, I’ve always been aware of where I’ve come from. I’ve realised my dreams My story is unusual for my age, and I think that its because its my biggest passion in the whole world, dance music, so much so that I thought it would never happen. So when it did, literally my dreams came true. My favourite bit of the job is meeting people, I fucking love meeting people I have something in common with and San city high is an extension of that. Everyone gets on like a house on fire.
I turn his attention to the new video for Turn it on, the single with Cobra, and I have to say it pure comedy gold. “Oh my lord! You should have been there!” Where did you get the thinking for it? “I wanted to do a proper music video for once. There aren’t the budgets for them anymore they’re more PR things these days aren’t they? I wanted to do something that was just funny and light hearted. I think the reason me and Cobra have this funny dance music marriage, or whatever it is, is because there is a slight element of tongue in check. Not that my music is tongue in cheek, but the reason I’m an electro artists as opposed to a serious house person, is that I take it with a pinch of salt. I think that electro to me has always been about mashing everything together with everything. I grew up with UK garage, so to do a UK garage influenced track was always going to be light hearted. Cobra had to be in it because he did the lyrics, so I thought it can’t be serious really can it? Plus I’ve been banging on about my roller skating skills in interviews for about 5 years, and there isn’t even that much of me roller skating in it! I just thought it would be really funny for me to turn up with a boom box on my shoulder on roller skates! Cobra would just start MCing in public, it was so funny. We got kicked out of a few places!
Watch it here:
You can catch Kissy Sell Out this weekend at Electric Brixton .