Whether he’s behind the decks or in the studio, Kevin Knapp is a force to be reckoned with. I’ve known Kevin since Dirtybird’s early days in San Francisco and, even though he’s since made the move to Berlin, it’s been great to see his career and music output thrive. He collaborated with Sacha Robotti on “Thump Bumper” for our ten-year compilation and is building up an impressive discography, working with artists including Pan-Pot, Audiojack – “Vibrate” is the one! – Groove Armada, Worthy and Mat.Joe.
You can always count on Knapp’s knack for storytelling and sense of humor, both of which are on display in his Questionnaire answers. Check out his guest mix while you read ‘em.
How did your music career get started in earnest?
I started singing at a very young age and use to sing competitively in high school, so I guess you could say it started way back then. I put the music down for a few years and came back to it via DJing in 2001 when I got my first pair of Technics. I suppose you can say the current effort started in earnest then.
Where are you from and does it have an influence on your music?
I’ve moved around a bunch over the years and when I was a kid. That being said, of the places I’ve lived, the lion’s share of my time was spent in Austin and San Francisco. I feel like my love, patience, and understanding of the utility of minor notes and keys comes from my Austin, indie rock days. In SF, I was immediately drawn to Dirtybird’s sound. We’ve been homies for over a decade and having grown up a big hip-hop fan as well, I reckon it was a pretty natural progression.
How many times did you want to quit trying to make this your career?
Interesting question. One could say never and daily at the same time. That’s the artist’s conundrum I guess. I’ve considered it genuinely a couple of times, but lucky for me I have a great group of folks around me that encourage me to keep pushing. I have a law degree as well so there has been times when the calling to use it has been louder than others. I believe this is my calling though, so I really think any attempt to do anything else would likely not amount to much.
What was one piece of equipment that helped define your sound early on?
A Condenser microphone. Later, when I started producing, it was actually software that bore the strongest influence as I work in the box. I feel like I’ve used essentially everything from Native Instruments at some point.
When you were getting started, which artists did you try to emulate (both musically and careerwise)?
I kind of feel like most of the artists that I’ve ever loved still are very relevant for me. I’ve like tried to emulate them all at some point. You [Thanks dood! –CVS], Matt Tolfrey, Audiojack, Robag Wruhme, Detlef, Emanuel Satie, Jey Kurmis, Jamie Jones, wAFF, Riva Starr, Justin Martin, Sacha Robotti… the list goes on and on.
When you have a tough week or a rough tour, how do you get yourself back on track?
Chinese food, binge TV viewing, whiskey, sleep.
Where and when are you at your most content/happiest?
Don’t want to sound cliché, but I do think there is no better feeling in the world than when a crowd gets what you’re doing on stage. It’s special and irreplaceable.
Do you have any secret hobbies or hidden talents?
I take food as seriously as I take my music and would like to believe that I give a great dinner party. I’m pretty gangster on a spades table and lately, as I mature, I have a pretty incessant attraction to boats.
Favorite and least favorite colors?
Still love a great blue, like blue eyes. Not sure about the utility of puke green at all.
Favorite and least favorite words?
I’ve currently been running around dropping the word “conflate” at every feasible opportunity, it seems. “Dope” appears to carry as much weight as it ever has. I struggle in so many ways with the word “no.”
Favorite guilty pleasure food?
Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese, the Sharp Cheddar version.
Favorite guilty pleasure song?
Birdman feat. Drake and Lil’ Wayne, “4 My Town (Play Ball)”.
German or Detroit techno?
Festival, club or illegal warehouse?
Illegal warehouse, the more naughty, the better.
Biggie or Tupac?
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Trek just isn’t the vibe. Not sure why!
Exercise or Netflix?
Would love for the answer to be the former, we’re getting there!