Kinchen: It was ugly [laughs].
DJ Times: What were you DJing on?
Kinchen: I was using a Traktor S4, but I was also DJing with my brother Scott, who’s a pretty good DJ. He bailed me out a lot.
DJ Times: You effectively restarted a career. What were the biggest challenges of doing that?
Kinchen: The challenges were really just understanding what the difference in producing and DJing is. At first, I didn’t really get it. Now I get it: Understanding what works in production, what doesn’t work, and DJing with that. It was kind of like re-teaching myself how to do something.
DJ Times: You’re now DJing. Does the “live-crowd-reaction” element of that affect the way you might produce something?
Kinchen: Seeing the crowd react to certain songs—ones I made or didn’t make—and then going into my studio, I can know what will work. It’s from the years of producing; I just get it.
DJ Times: It feels like you cemented this comeback of sorts with your remix of Storm Queen’s “Look Right Through” going No.1 in the U.K. How does that feel?
Kinchen: It feels good. “Look Right Through” is personal because that song wasn’t meant to be released. I had a show coming up and I thought, “Let me remix my remix,” just to give them something special for them to hear. I did that mix, and it just exploded. Nobody had it; it wasn’t out. Every time I played it, my manager and I would see a reaction like we had never seen before. After a couple of months, we told Defected, “Here’s a gift. Put this out.”
DJ Times: You seem to have found a home in the London scene, which is a bit different from the New York scene. What separates the audience here and over there?
Kinchen: I think in London/England and Europe they’re more open. In America, we’re still kind of uptight a little bit, even with television and radio and what’s played and what you’re forced to listen to. We have internet now, and we’re getting “it” a little more, but I think London has always been open to good dance music and good music in general.
DJ Times: Now you’re hard at work on your debut album. When did work begin on it?
Kinchen: January. It hasn’t been that long, but it’s hard to find the time to work on it with touring. I’m home maybe three days a week, so I’m trying to work and go back on the road. That’s the biggest challenge right now.
DJ Times: Has the advent of digital production technology allowed you more time to do it? Can you work on the road now?
Kinchen: Yeah, it’s definitely easier. I did “Look Right Through” on my laptop. There are a lot of remixes I did on the road. I go home and take it to my real studio to add to it and make it bigger.
DJ Times: You’re a big proponent of Traktor. What attracts you to it?
Kinchen: I just like seeing everything, I guess, because I started DJing that way. I can read the waveforms really well, and just the fact that I can make a song, dump it in there and see my cue points. I can know where to put cue points without even hearing the song; I’m just visually attracted to it.
DJ Times: What are the freedoms of working on a full-length album in comparison to singles and remixes?
Kinchen: The funny thing is that it’s the opposite for me. Working on a remix, I feel more open to do different things than on the album.
DJ Times: You’ve previewed some material from the album already. “Mirrorball” is with Anabel Englund and it was written by Emma Louise from “My Head Is A Jungle.” What was the road to that one?
Kinchen: Emma sent me a couple songs, and one was “Mirrorball.” It was just her playing piano and singing it, and I thought it was incredible. Anabel can sound like Emma, so I immediately thought, “Anabel could kill this,” so I called Emma and asked if I could have Anabel sing it.
DJ Times: How far along is work on the album?
Kinchen: I have about six songs that are about halfway done. What I’m basically doing is writing a bunch of songs, not going in and doing a final mix, and then picking from those to put through to the next step. It’s like a little factory.
DJ Times: It was a very interesting move for you to re-release “Always” last year, and Route 94 remixed the track for the new video. It seemed like you were looking to the past while still looking ahead. Why did you decide to do that?
Kinchen: Defected put it out, and they asked me who I wanted to remix it. I had just met Route 94 a couple months before that through a friend of mine. This was before Route 94 really released any songs. We were talking and he sent me some of his music, and I thought it was really good. When labels want me to have someone else remix my songs, I always like finding new kids who I hear potential in. This was about nine months after I had first met him, and he had had something out in between then. So when he did the remix he had just become known, so it was perfect timing and he nailed it.
DJ Times: It’s massive.
Kinchen: Simon [Dunmore] from Defected wanted me to remix it at the same time. I was like, “No way, Route’s mix is way too good. Let it go for a while, and then when his is dying down, then I’ll do mine.”
DJ Times: You’re definitely known for your knack to create incredible remixes, even more than one a month at some points. What about a song compels you to remix it?
Kinchen: There’s two parts. When I first started doing remixes, I just took everything that was offered and I just made it work somehow. A lot of that meant I had to chop vocals to make it work. Now when I get songs, I try and listen to songs that are in the right tempo. If it’s not in the right tempo, I won’t do it. I got offered to remix Sia’s “Chandelier.” I love that song, but I would’ve had to speed it up too fast. I don’t want to butcher her vocals.
DJ Times: In addition to your solo career, you’re also part of Pleasure State with Lee Foss and Anabel Englund. “Ghost In The System” came out at the end of 2014. You’ve got a track called “What’s Your Pleasure” as well as a remix of Hot Natured’s “Reverse Skydiving” planned. What else is in the works?
Kinchen: We’ve got a song called “.22 Caliber” that’s really good. Lee writes most of the songs. With me doing my album and us trying to do a Pleasure State album—which is three times as hard since we all have different schedules—getting us all together is a nightmare.
DJ Times: What are those sessions like?
Kinchen: We basically say, “Hey let’s get together tomorrow at my house at 8 o’clock.” They’ll come to my studio and we’ll start from the ground up. Lee has his book of lyrics, Anabel is Instagramming [laughs], and I’ll get on the keys and mess around. It’s very organic.
DJ Times: It feels like everyone in the group brings a very different energy, which makes the whole thing feel bigger than the sum of its parts
Kinchen: I think so, too. When you watch us live, some people say that they see that chemistry. It’s not like we sit there and say, “Let’s make a banging house track.” It’s interesting. If I was looking from the outside, I’d be interested. It’s three people who are pretty talented coming together and bringing what they’re doing into one thing.
DJ Times: You re-launched your MK Area 10 label recently, and it’s had its own stage at London’s We Are FSTVL the past two years. What plans are there for it?
Kinchen: We’re getting ready to put out some records. I’m going to do some as 4th Measure Men, which is one of the other names I used in the beginning – just really raw stuff. Not giving it “too much thought,” just something artistic.
DJ Times: Beyond the label, your own album, and Pleasure State, you’ve still worked outside of the dance world. You co-produced “Your Loving” with Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins for Mary J. Blige’s last album. Are you looking to still do more pop productions?
Kinchen: Yes and no. Mary was perfect in the way it happened. I was in the studio, and my friend Jamal Edwards came in with somebody who works with Rodney Jerkins. I was working on something, and my friend Jamal was talking with Rodney’s partner, who said that Mary was doing a house album. Jamal was like, “And you don’t want MK on it?” The guy said, “Who’s MK?” He went back to Rodney, who called me to ask if I could do a song for Mary the next day. I just happened to have a free day in London, so I just did it.
DJ Times: The track itself sounds very timeless and classic. Even your Nightcrawlers remix still sounds fresh and can fit in with the sounds that are going around dance music right now. Do you ever take a look back and think, “I helped start this?”
Kinchen: It is funny. I hear it. Even in a lot of R&B songs, they use that same kind of bass sound, too. I just secretly laugh.