I had a chat via Skype with young Detroit house head Kris Wadsworth last week and, after much procrastination, got around to editing it last night. There's some general biographical detail to start, and a discography, past, present and future to finish.
Kris Wadsworth is seemingly brand new to electronic music; however, he has been writing and producing tracks since he was fourteen years old. Raised in and around Detroit, he first heard the sounds of dance music from mix tapes his sibling would bring home from the local nightclubs. From age eleven he was studying blues and rock guitar, painting graffiti, listening to hip hop, jazz, and the dance sounds of Detroit, Chicago and New York. He luckily found electronic music to be his ultimate creative medium. Anyone could have guessed this kid would have been an artist from an early age. Now at age 24, he has numerous internationally acclaimed recordings to his credit and shows no sign of stopping. Kris is in this for the long haul, as it were, and his nostalgic, yet forward-thinking productions ought to spell that out loud and clear.
Some of the world’s most respected labels have him on board, along with some of the freshest new up-and-coming labels. (Morris/Audio, Adult Only, Millions of Moments, Hypercolour, BRUT!, Boe, Snapshot, etc). His remixes are nothing to sneeze at either, gaining relentless plays from the brightest and best. A person who definitely stands out in an era of over-saturation and pretentiousness, Kris offers you a bold introspective and retrospective look at “why you fell in love with this music in the first place.” (Resident Advisor). KW does genre-defying, dense, lush, emotive, sexy music that is instantly recognized. From dub-esque textures and wanderings, to square bass rockers, to large peak-time destroyers; the young blood of Detroit Techno City knows what he is doing. Some call it house; some call it techno. To those who know, it ‘s called dance music.
As a DJ, Kris Wadsworth is a vinyl junky. He started playing Detroit warehouse parties at the ripe old age of sixteen alongside techno and house royalty from around the world. As that era finally died, he moved to playing clubs and after-hours spots even when he was not even old enough to get in; paying his dues in the city that started it all. Since then, getting bookings at some of the world’s most prestigious clubs is what has naturally followed. Kris’s sets usually move through a fittingly wide range of 4/4 genres with the utmost tact and class. No fancy tricks, or cheats; just the essential, time-tested skill and art of mixing records.
Let's talk a little bit about music. I first found out about you by checking Burnski's playlist on his Myspace, I think he charted your first Morris release. How did you get to know the guys (Hypercolour, etc) over in the UK and how long have you been releasing music?
KW: Well, I first started writing and producing when I was fourteen. I did two releases for local Detroit labels, the first when I was about seventeen. It was me, Anonym, who records for Bloop, and another guy. Then another record that was released just as a white label. Nothing happened then until Morris Audio came along. I put together demos and I was out in LA. It was funny because I sent about fifty demos and Morris was the only one to give me the time of day. Hypercolour heard the first Morris release and things just went on from there. Guys in the UK? It's just kind of like it is now talking to you, meeting over the Internet. I'm coming over soon so it's going to be nice to finally meet everyone and put some names to faces. I know a few guys in Paris, Germany the UK . . .
You're not going to get deported this time are you? (Kris was deported the last time he came to the UK/Europe in September '08).
KW: I hope not. I'm supposed to have my visa sorted within the week so I'd better not (laughs).
So you're coming over before Easter?
KW: Yeah. I'm coming over the first and second weeks in March. There are a few things up in the air but one thing that's going on for sure will be at East Village (London). There'll also probably be some things arranged at the last minute.
And you're going over to mainland Europe too?
KW: Yeah I should. That remains to be confirmed pretty soon.
Are you taking care of all of this yourself?
KW: I'm doing it myself. I bug the shit out of a lot of people . . . you know, friends and stuff for shows and things like that. Jaime Russell from Hypercolour has been helping me a little bit. He's really sorting the stuff in the UK. It's other contacts as far as Germany is concerned. . . .Having said that, one of the downsides of having to communicate with everyone over the Internet most of the time is that you may feel you're building up a close relationship, but no matter what you might feel, you don't really know the person until you meet then face-to-face. I've had some problems with people remixing my tracks without permission but everything's alright now.
Tell me a little bit about Detroit and your relationship with the other players on the scene? How well are you connected?
KW: As far as I'm concerned I used to really love Detroit (I still do in some respects), as far as inspiration is concerned. I used to play raves when I was about sixteen so I caught the tail end of that side of the culture but I also saw a lot of negative stuff. Detroit is a fishbowl with too many fishes and not enough food. For example, as soon as a weekly night comes along everybody jumps on it. However, the city is cool and I don't think I'm being pretentious when I say that I feel I have an intimate relationship with it.
Have you always lived there?
KW: No, I'm originally from Atlanta, Georgia and moved here when I was about three or four. Since then I've lived in the metro area my whole life, bar minor excursions living in Arizona and so on.
And who do you have a relationship with in the city musically besides Anonym?
KW: Well, I used to have a much better relationship with certain people in the past, but this soured once I realised what they stood for. I'm not being an asshole or arrogant, but as soon as you start to do stuff on an international level people act really weird towards you. I'm not a "scene darling" I don't do that. I don't kiss ass or anything like that. I can hang and I can talk shit and swallow spit with the best of them but that's not really what I'm about. Music is something very special to me and while I don't think I'm over serious about it if people jerk me about I just remove myself. A few names: Josh Dahlberg, who I've just remixed. He approached me at the last DEMF. He runs a local netlabel called Blank Artists. There's him and a bunch of guys associated with it. There's a guy who makes acid techno called Jared Wilson. That's pretty much as far as active people in my age group is concerned. I have ties to the old school house community . . . people like Mike Huckaby, Keith Worthy, Paul Randolph, who was a member of Inner City . . . guys like that I connect with better . . .
Maybe it's wrong to call it a renaissance because these guys have never really stopped doing it, but people like Patrice Scott, Omar S . . . and then there's the younger generation. Yourself and someone like Seth Troxler . . .For me at least, Detroit is really bubbling again. I'm sure that those from the city might say it's always been that way but trends come and go and now it's as strong as it's ever been (except maybe twenty years or so ago).
KW: Detroit is always going to be classic. It'll go in and out. Sometimes it's great but can also be as boring as hell. However, Detroit is the home of genre-defining deep dance music. Detroit has a large variety of expressive, emotive dance music, whether it's house, techno or stuff in between.
It's certainly name-checked more than any other. The track on the 'Sunrise EP' by Delano Smith, "Something For Myself", "Detroit" by Morgan Geist, I've heard Robert Hood do it, etc Are you ever going to namecheck your hometown?
KW: (Laughs) I don't think I want to do that. Even though I have a great affinity for the place I'm not one really to push that sort of thing. I don't want to polarise my music. There are people making Detroit sounding music all over the world. When once there was fifty now there's thousands so it's kind of like I'm not going to push it so much. It may occur in track titles or a vocal sample but no more. For example, I think my last Hypercolour release is influenced by French house, Chicago house . . .it covers, I think, a wide breadth of what I think house music should sound like.
Do you still play out only with vinyl and is there any reason for that? Are you anti mp3, CD, etc?
I'm pretty purist with respect to vinyl as it's the whole reason I got into this music in the first place. I love everything about it, the way it looks, smells . . . as far as CDs are concerned, I just think it's cheating. You can put a mix on a CD , play it and how do you know . . ? It's the same thing when you DJ with Ableton or Traktor. You can edit it with a wave editor . . . I just feel that it's cheating. It doesn't make sense to me. The one remix I did for Blank Artists is the only thing I want released as an mp3.If I put a lot of love and effort into my stuff, I don't want to see it appearing just as a file.
Finally, what are you listening to at the moment?
Sei-A/Droido (the same guy) is amazing. His stuff is really freaking me out at the moment. . . . there's new release on Ibadan . . .Flora Cruz "Let The Sun Shine Out" which has a classic piano house vibe. The "Sunrise EP" by Delano Smith which was mentioned before. Soulphiction, Man-made Science, anything that's coming out of the Philpot camp, the last track on Millions of Moments by Ribn. I feel that what dub techno needs is more dancefloor-friendly stuff . . .anything that Agnes does . . .the whole Slowhouse series. I'll play loads of old stuff anyway from the last twenty years or so.
Cheers Kris. Nice chatting to you
KRIS WADSWORTH (KW, ETAL)
*Anonym, Roman, Etal “AR001” AnonymousRelease AR001
*Kris Wadsworth “Whosworth?” St@ic Records Detroit JSH 002
*Kris Wadsworth “Get Your Wadsworth” Morris/Audio MA61
*Kris Wadsworth “Deport This” Hypercolour HYPE012
*Kris Wadsworth “True To It” Adult Only AO32
*Kris Wadsworth “The Electric Truth” Morris/Audio MA64
*Kris Wadsworth “Dig” Boe Recordings BOE005
*Kris Wadsworth “TBA” Snapshot Records SN006
*Kris Wadsworth “TBA Album” Hypercolour TBA
*Kris Wadsworth “TBA” BRUT! TBA
*Kris Wadsworth “TBA” Millions Of Moments TBA
*Kris Wadsworth “TBA” Morris/Audio TBA
*Kris Wadsworth “TBA” Adult Only TBA
*Kris Wadsworth “TBA” Hypercolour TBA
*Josh Dahlberg “Night Fire” (KW’s Home Sick remix) Blank Artists
*Hatikvah “Love Bells” (KW’s Detroit Sleaze remix) Morris/Audio Citysport Edition
*Ekkohaus “Not Trying To” (KW’s We Love Be Bop remix) BRUT!
*TBA “TBA” (KW’s TBA remix) Bloop
*TBA “TBA” (KW’s TBA remix) Hypercolour
Mark Henning to come before the end of the weekend. Keep it locked.