ON the cusp of releasing a new concept album with Chali 2na (Jurassic 5), we caught up with Martin Reeves AKA Krafty Kuts to discuss ‘Adventures Of A Reluctant Superhero,’ the evolution of dance music, the part he’s played in it, production and everything in between.
Great to speak to you Martin, what’s the preparation been like for the new album with Chali 2na? It feels like it’s been a long time coming!
It does feel it has taken a while but it’s always like that with every album an artist writes. After you finish and deliver the LP to the label you then have the mix downs, artwork, running order, credits, and final adjustments and tweaks to make. Next is the whole promotion process with social media playing such a big part. Sometimes you can finish an LP 6 months before it’s released. We are both very happy with the final product and the artwork, it really is amazing what Jake who does all the characters and artwork has done. He has written a whole script to go with the LP.
Your new album ‘Adventures Of A Reluctant Superhero’ takes us on a journey through classic, old-school hip-hop – is this a genre you normally gravitate towards?
I tried to mix the old with the new …. bring back the funk is what I say. I love old school – always have, always will, but it’s no good dwelling on the past, embrace the new. We tried to encompass this with AOARS. We feel there are a selection of tracks that cover the spectrum in styles, flavours and cool elements of hip-hop.
How has hip-hop changed since you first started listening to it?
Now it’s mostly 808 drums and minimal riffs with quirky hooks. I do love some of the new hip-hop, but I feel the lyrics are not quite as cool as they once were in some songs. Back in the day there was soul, funk, disco, jazz, rock and I feel this is missing in quite a lot of the new music.
And how did you come up with the superhero concept of the album, what’s the story behind that?
This was Jake the Detonator who came up with this concept. His artwork over the years has been exceptional and he has worked on so many incredible projects like Star Wars, Prodigy LP – covers you should check this dude out he is a genius. Chali is a big comic fan so it kind of drifted towards these elements and we then took that path and together we came up with this wonderful concept. All the artists involved loved the idea so basically, we stuck with the plan and this is how it all unfolded.
There are plenty of collaborators on ‘Adventures…,’ the likes of Harry Shotta, Skye (Moorcheeba), Omar, Dynamite MC and of course Chali himself. How do you go about choosing who to work with and what do you look for in an artist?
To be honest, you always draw up lists of who you would love to work with and the artists that we worked with are just so professional that getting them in the studio is always a blast. That is the case with all involved. Harry Shotta, Dynamite MC are both good friends and excellent MCs, so that just worked perfectly. Chali worked with Skye before and we contacted her – she was like “hell yeah.” She came into the studio and nailed it on both tracks – a wonderful person to work with and just so humble. Chali was a big fan of Omar so we got his contact details. He loved the backing track and that all just fell into place. Everyone involved has been so cool to work with, it has been quite refreshing to be honest. The collaborations all sound pretty dope to me and it’s hard to pick out a favourite.
You’ll be taking the album on the road over the summer / autumn – what are the challenges in transferring something from the studio to the live circuit? Is it tightly structured or is there opportunity for you both to freestyle it a bit?
This is very hard as you sometimes aren’t sure which tracks are people’s favourites so we kind of pick the ones that work best live. We try to combine some of our old tracks with the new so to make sure the classics are in there. We have 4 / 5 new tracks to play out live, along with some new ideas so we’re very excited about the new show. It is difficult when it’s just myself and Chali but on some shows Dynamite and Skye are joining us.
How do your hip hop sets with Chali differ from a full club set? Do you prefer playing a particular sound over the other?
I love both and they are so different. The electronic and more uptempo music I play is always fun and you’re in charge of your own destiny – you can take the crowd where you feel. It is a totally different vibe altogether. Chali is just incredible on the mic and when working with him he just oozes class. He takes to the stage and always delivers and is so professional, it is amazing. Every time we perform he nails it and gets the crowd hyped. The 2 are quite different which is brilliant and refreshing for me, so I love both equally.
As a DJ, you’ve always had an eclectic sound which spans various genres – is there ever an urge to try a new sound and show the world another, different side to Krafty Kuts?
I am always thinking about future sounds and trying fresh and new ideas but keeping it funky. I have some interesting projects lined up for the future so watch this space,
And finally, other than the album and tour – what else have you got planned for the foreseeable?
I have a new project called Access Granted which is basically a ton of hip-hop instrumentals I have made over the last year and I will be giving these away free on kraftykuts.com over the coming months. I desperately need a holiday, maybe moving house drum and bass, another funk and breakbeat one. Funky Side of Things 2, Back to the Beats 3, and Eclectic Relaxation 2. So I’m going to be a busy boy over the next year.
Chali 2na and Krafty Kuts – Adventures Of A Reluctant Superhero is available HERE from August 9th.