The Electro Show host Nathan Phelan caught up with Kissy Sell Out following the final broadcast of his weekly residency on BBC Radio 1, to discuss his time with the BBC, his charity work, record label, future plans and he even took some time to answer some fan questions….
The Electro Show (ES):
Before I begin I would like to say that I am honored that you have taken the time to give us a little insight into ‘The Life of Kissy Sell Out’. As of March 30th your residency at BBC Radio 1 on Thursday nights came to a close, what did the Kissy Sell Out Show mean to you and your career?
Kissy Sell Out (KS):
Cor blimey, we’re diving straight in with that one haha! Well….it’s been a tough week. The funny thing is that my family and friends have got so used to me locking myself away in my studio each week for endless hours, rethinking and remixing the music for that show, that it all came as a bit of a relief for them when the end came! Even my radio producers must be a little relieved it’s over – although, both the girls got very upset on the last night bless ‘em!
The people around me who book my DJ gigs and work at my label etc, are all really pleased that I can finally go away for longer than 6 days and visit places I should’ve gone to years ago. I think I’ll snap into that way of thinking after a few weeks too, but I’m still making the transition.
Put it this way, it’s been about 5 days since the final show and I’m still receiving hundreds and hundreds of letters and comments each day from fans about the show – so many in fact, it’s become quite traumatic just checking my emails!!
You’d expect me to say I loved doing that show but it’s more complicated than that. It became incredibly personal to me. Many of the fictional computer-voiced characters, for example, were named after my family or friends, and when things were getting me down you could definitely tell from some of the ambiguously emotive things they’d end up saying! If you’ve been listening for more than a year then you will have definitely spotted some of those occasions!
Looking back on your time on the air, what were some of the things you liked best about being a host on Radio 1?
When I started I was trying to prove a point by how wacky the show was but as soon as I noticed how much the audience cared about the show, and also how much it meant to new producers on the scene when I supported their tracks, it stopped being about me and more about the community. I truly loved the concept of it being like an after-school youth club – but for everyone, no matter who you were or where you lived.
There is no remix quite like a Kissy Sell Out remix, and every week you filled 2 hours with brand new remixes of the latest & greatest tracks. Were the remixes prepared tracks or did you produce The Kissy Sell Out Show in the same manner you perform your DJ sets, with 4 Pioneer decks and a mixer?
Oh they were definitely pre-prepared!!! You have no idea how many hours I spent working on all those Kissy Klub Versions – they weren’t just full studio re-edits but they were all properly mastered at San City High too!! My manager has said many times over the years that I should be doing 2 or 3 remixes a week for the show MAXIMUM! But….the show was what it was and I couldn’t bear the thought of it being less than I imagined it could be.
My live sets have always been very different in tone from my radio shows. The theatricality and weirdness of the radio show doesn’t work in so well live so my live sets are far more epic and BIG! For every classical music edit I did, for example, there would be 2 versions, one for the Kissy Klub and a tougher one for the clubs.
A DJ’s live DJ tools are a very sacred thing! Giving all my live secrets away each week would give people no reason to come to my live shows!
During your final broadcast you stated that The Kissy Klub will live on, what can its members expect from their boy?
Well the reason I made the Kissy Klub Versions in the first place was because the BBC have strict restrictions on producers playing their own music (tax-payers money and all that) so the whole point of Kissy Klub Versions was that no one else could have them. Now ofcourse, it’s over. So, with about a thousand remixes to release in to the wild as individual tracks and special podcast DJ mixes, my Soundcloud page (soundcloud.com/kissysellout) should be producing some fireworks regularly from now on!
Kissy Klub can now be used as the name of the club nights we put on too which I’m very excited about! The first one will be at XOYO in London on the 27th of April – come down!
In the past you have been a big supporter of Charity Work, in 2008 you were involved with the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, are you still doing what you can to help not-for-profit organizations?
I’m still involved with many things, the BAAF in particular. I don’t really do things like that to look cool, I just think they’re good things to help with if you’re capable. I recently did a magazine feature and a gig to promote a male suicide awareness and prevention charity called CALM which I think is a very worthy cause. The statistics they have on the number of young men killing themselves are truly shocking.
San City is a label you started and not only features yourself but also some very notable producers such as Zeds Dead, Art vs. Science and Hot Pink Delorean, what was the motivation behind starting the label?
Believe it or not, the label was the first thing I started – before Kissy Sell Out even started making music haha!! The idea is simple really, we were just some of the first to start doing it. Give all the artists 50 percent of everything and only sign them for the track (s) that are on the single release. Then they hopefully get some good exposure and go on to better things. It’s been wonderful seeing so many of my crew go onwards and upwards – Zeds Dead are huge now!
You are a big supporter of unsigned artists, much like The Electro Show, can you give us a little peak into the future, one or two artists people should be checking out?
Well times are a changing and everyone is talking about different people but right now I’m digging Valymo, ETC!ETC!, CODE:MANTA, Saint Saviour (I’m remixing a track called “I Call This Home” from her new album), Stuff Ya Disco, Munchi, Hackman, DYP, Krywolf (still) and hmmmmmm…..Mak & Pasteman and Danny Westcott.
Last May you released your 3rd Album Wild Romance, preceded by Youth (2009) & Introducing Kissy Sell Out (2010, North American Only), with more time to focus on your music and performance, what can we expect from Kissy in the near future production wise? (Remixes, Singles, A New Album?)
“Introducing..” was more like Nirvana’s “Incesticide” album really in that it was bits and pieces I had left over and needed the world to hear.”Wild Romance” is like a greek titan in comparison and is the 2nd album proper haha!!! With the extra time my radio show-free life has I desperately want to release a slew of banging singles to get my tracks back into the night clubs again as I’ve been unable to work on anything significant for ages… : ( I have about 6 new projects which will come out as singles on San City High across the world as soon as I finish tweakin’ em! They include collaborations with DJ Taku, Queen Of Hearts, Saint Saviour, TAI and more (don’t wana give too much away!!)
Referring back to the massive amount of tracks you have remixed or put your own touch on over the years, will there ever be an album or series of albums featuring your remixes?
…oh man I would still LOVE to do that! I’m so proud of my official remixes in particular because they are the ones I spent most time on and I’ve never let one out into the wild unless I thought it was the best remix I’d worked on at the time. I’m sad to see that my second remix for The Noisettes of “Wild Young Hearts” or my remix for Acoustic Ladyland of “Cuts & Lies” aren’t even on iTunes!!!?! They are some of my favourites and I’d love to put an album like that out so hopefully I’ll get the opportunity….you never know!
Do you have any advice for aspiring electronic music producers or DJ’s? (perhaps a tip or bit of knowledge you wish you had of known when you were trying to get off your feet)
It feels like a spit this line out so often that it’s not such a new idea anymore but I still think it’s the best advice I could ever give.
Here it is….. In life everyone has their particular interests or hobbies – it might be fishing, painting & decorating, snowboarding, or whatever – but some of us care more about certain passions than others. In fact it’s the special thing that most “creative people” have. Over the years I have discovered that whether in my own experiences or from meeting other people and hearing their unusual life stories, if there is something that you care about so much that you have been practicing that thing every single day since you can remember and you know everything there is to know about that one subject. ……chances are, that you already possess a talent that far exceeds that of most other grown-ups who already get paid to do it!!
I have literally met a guy who fished for England because he knew so much about fishing as a child. A friend of mine studied computer science (or similar) at University and for his dissertation he documented 2 different ways of successfully hacking into the website of a HUGE multi-national corporation. Once he’d done the project he sent it to the corporation and is now head of international I.T. for them!!!!!!?!
The moral of this is that if you have made a tune and you truly believe that it is the best thing you have ever done – based on your exceptional knowledge of modern music – then go for it! Email EVERYONE. Give a CD to EVERYONE. Invent a Facebook, Myspace, Soundcloud, Twitter, Bebo, Tumbler…do EVERYTHING…….and if you really are that talented then amazing things will happen! ….I should’ve saved that for a million dollar book deal haha!!
Do you have any advice for any aspiring broadcasters?
Not really! Kissy Klub was a one off. The only reason I personally was any good had more to do with my production abilities than my knowledge of radio if I’m honest. I just picked up the presenting stuff along the way!
Fan Questions from twitter:
DJ Setlist Service (@djsetlists) : How many times do customs pull you to one side at airports when they say “I’m a DJ”?
It’s not the “I’m a DJ” moment that gets you in trouble with customs. It’s looking scruffy! They’re looking for people with bags of weed in their socks and stuff so if you look clean, nice and put on a smile as you go through – you’ll be ok!
Jim Emery (@tuetonicmusic): my question would b is it better to b on a label, or fly solo. Is there any point in labels anymore?
An independent label is a great way to release your first material, but never sign an album deal! Do the big things yourself.
Mike Sperry (@xMassiveDynamic): Do you have any easy mastering tips for producers?
Put a good compressor and a brickwall limiter in your master channel and master the track as you work. Make sure the release on the compressor is allowing the kicks to come through and don’t blast it into the compressor too loud just to maximize the volume. You can do that with the limiter.
Personally I have been listening to you for the last 3 years on BBC Radio 1 on Thursday nights, and quite often throughout the week on the iPlayer, your energy and demeanor is outstanding and I always knew if I was in need of a boost before creating an episode your show was the first I would listen to. On behalf of The Electro Show and its fans I want to thank-you for taking the time to do this interview, and best of luck in the future, and LONG LIVE THE KISSY KLUB!
Thank you – what a wonderful interview to take part in! X x
Kissy Sell Out Links:
The Kissy Klub: http://www.facebook.com/kissyklub
Be sure to check out The Electro Show Podcast available on iTunes