THE rise of British live techno artist Saytek continues and this summer is shaping up to be his best yet.
Over the last decade an avalanche of his improvised music has throbbed onto dance floors worldwide, dropped in the sets of many of the best DJs. While it may have taken a few years to achieve the kind of success he is now enjoying, Saytek, aka Joseph Keevill’s tireless work ethic and dedication began to pay off when in the summer of 2016 Carl Cox picked up on his fifth album ‘Machine Jams’ which was released that spring on his Cubism label. Carl ended up playing many tracks from the album week in week out during his last season at Space Ibiza and with that kind of support and releases on a slew of tastemaker labels such as Wiggle, Superfreq and Detone, suddenly Saytek became a very hot property.
Saytek has since gone on to sign an album deal with Coxy and Christopher Coe’s new label Awesome Soundwave, a label dedicated to releasing and showcasing live techno artists. The album ‘Improvisations’, his seventh, is set to drop this summer. He will also perform alongside Carl at Creamfields on August 24 and also at an Awesome Soundwave showcase in association with Awakenings at ADE in Amsterdam on October 17.
You have your seventh album ‘Improvisations’ coming soon, this time on Carl Cox and Christopher Coe’s much-lauded Awesome Soundwave label. This must be a great feeling. How did this come about?
Ah well, quite a long story. Firstly Carl has been supporting me for years and when I released an album of live tracks on Cubism called ‘Machine Jams’ back in 2016 he played nearly the whole album at his Space residency and two of the tracks went on to be two of his most played tracks for over six months. Then the following year I was at IMS in Shanghai and bumped into Christopher Coe. He was telling me about a label he was starting with Carl with live artists in mind. When I told him I was Saytek he said that Carl had mentioned me and wanted me to be on the label!
Since then I have released an E.P. and done a remix for Christopher Coe’s ‘Let It Go’ but an album was always on the cards, so I locked myself in the studio at the beginning on this year for a couple of months and made a load of live jams! Carl loved them and so did Chris and picked eleven of the favourites for my ‘Improvisations’ album.
You’ve said that people didn’t really understand what you were doing at first before performing live became fashionable to do so? I know you always and still do have to stress that you are a live act and not a DJ.
Yeah, it’s funny how things have panned out. I started doing live 15 years ago and although it always been a thing the awareness was not there but I never gave up! But with Boiler Room and social media, a lot more people soon started discovering what live electronic music is all about!
The label you have called home for the best part of ten years, Cubism, has seen you grow as an artist to this point. How important was the label during this time up to the point you are at today?
It was always team work. We achieved a lot with some big releases and regular nights at fabric back in the day! It’s great to still have it and I released an EP on it this year which did really well, it got loads of support and good reviews and a Traxsource top 5 and top 20! It’s not shut down, just on the back burner for whenever we need it again.
Before you caught Coxy’s ear you not only enjoyed the support of Cubism but also some of the leading labels in UK house and techno such as Wiggle, Detone and Superfreq run by some of the leading luminaries of our scene. Can you tell us about them?
I mean yeah they are great labels run by absolute legends who really influenced my sound and still do. I will hopefully carry on releasing with these labels as they are all still going strong!
How do you feel about performing on the massive festival stages ahead? I know you have done a few but Creamfields alongside the likes of Carl, Pan-Pot and Nicole Moudaber is going to be pretty mental. Will you change the way you play in the smaller more intimate venues which you revel in across London and Berlin?
To be honest I always get nervous before a show anyway and of course, these big shows are pretty scary for a live act! But I am lucky to have experience and have played many big rooms with huge acts in my time, but the thought of doing a live set with Carl watching over my shoulder is pretty daunting! I always play differently depending on the show and the feedback I am getting from the crowd but I am a great believer in sticking to my guns musically I will only make and perform the music I love!
What is your favourite venue to play either here in the UK or abroad?
If I had to pick one it would be the Hammahalle of Sisyphos in Berlin it really is an amazing place! however for me if the sound system is good and the vibe is right it really doesn’t matter where on earth you are, a great party is a great party!
You are performing at the ratemyrave stream on facebook in association with The Night Bazaar on July 3. Can you tell us about this as there are a number of big streaming platforms involved? How important has live streaming and social media in general been to your progression as an artist?
Yes, this is going to be great it’s a secret location called “The Vault” with an invite-only crowd. I will be performing with all my gear and like you say it’s going to stream to a huge audience! For me live streaming and social media has been huge it really helped me take my career to the next level as people have for the first time been able to really see what I am doing when I perform live.
You went through some tough personal times before your ‘overnight’ success. Could you have envisaged that you would have overcome your demons to have succeeded in the way you have and also in an environment surrounded by the temptations that could have conquered you?
Yeah, I have struggled with mental health and addiction and I am on the Autism spectrum so my journey has not been that easy! I was always ambitious but it wasn’t until I put down the drugs and put the work in I started seeing success!
Watch Saytek perform live with ratemyrave and The Night Bazaar by visiting either of their facebook pages on July 3 from 6pm BST. For your chance to be in the audience for future broadcasts and see some of the best electronic music artists for free, just REGISTER HERE.
Check Saytek’s FACEBOOK PAGE for tour dates including his show at Creamfields for Carl Cox on August 24.