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Dave Jenkins

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The Inspiring Rise Of Katalyst

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The Inspiring Rise Of Katalyst

Whether you first heard Katalyst via her massive Stay At Home Festival streams or her infamous Run Tingz streams with Maddy V during the lockdowns, or you’ve caught her at some of the biggest UK clubs and dance possible post-lockdown (from Printworks to E1 to Westfest), there’s a high chance you’ve recently had your senses completely flipped into submission by this savage selector.

Double and triple-dropping at the forefront of the new generation of DJs taking over the game right now, Oxford-based Katalyst has made a name for herself with her signature wide-armed blends that flex across all eras and sub-flavours, bringing in elements of grime, UKG and RnB along the way.

This busy, energetic fusion will continue to flip senses as she’s currently working in the studio on her productions and is set to drop a special bootleg when she hits 10k on her Instagram. But right now her calling card is as a DJ… And she’s looking down the barrel of her busiest summer yet. Fresh from her first ever international show, we called Katalyst up to find out more…

Katalyst · In to the Jungle Mix – Mucky Warm up

 You’re just back from the Dazed Weekender in Prague. Was that your first international gig?

Yeah it was! It was so nice to be involved and be invited. A lot of people I know and work with like Rumble In The Jungle were there and it was so nice to travel with them and for us to all be together. The boat party on Monday before I left was beautiful. It felt like it had been so long since I’d been somewhere in the sun with all the people being happy and the music.

Goosebumps! Did you play?

No I played earlier in the weekend at Roxy.

Legendary venue!

Yeah! Same night as Andy C. I played back-to-back with Anaïs. It was so cool – we need to do it again!

Totally off the cuff b2b vibes?

Yeah, we both have our go-to tunes, dubs and blends but we were buzzing off each other. I started off playing tunes I’d not played live before but really wanted to hear through the system but then I settled and went for a lot of my favourite blends. It’s nice to play a bit of a mixture isn’t it?

 

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A post shared by Katalyst (@katalystdnb)

Yes! You’ve made that your signature. You bring everything into the mix – old and new, cool doubles and triples…

That’s what I love. I’ve only started producing in the last year or so, so my thing was always to try and make something that sounded like a totally new song while mixing. Trying out different tunes together and finding those perfect tunes that feel like they were made to go together.

Sick. I think DJs make the best producers because they understand the dancefloor science and what works well in a mix…

I think you’re right. You understand the energy and the feeling of wanting to be kept on the dancefloor and not wanting to leave. Trying to find that moment to go to the toilet but you don’t want to in case the DJ drops another banger! I want to make people feel like that. I feel so lucky to get to do what I do.

Sick! You’ve been busy this year…

Yeah it’s been great. I was lucky before lockdown and was already really busy – I’d have a few gigs a month, I wasn’t getting paid much and would travel really far for absolutely no money but I loved it and wanted to get my name out there. Then we had lockdowns and the live streams were big for me so, coming out of lockdown, things went crazy. I’ve played so many amazing gigs – Printworks, E1, Westfest, Halloween Town festival. Then this year has been amazing too – there’s a lot of bookings I can’t announce yet.

Big festivals?

Oh yes. Two are bucket-list ones! I can’t believe I’m already playing at them…

Let It Roll?

I am actually heading there and hopefully next year I might play there. This year I’m just travelling out as a fan and raver, with my friend Libby who runs DNB HiiT The Floor.

Oh big up Libby. She did a class on her tour in your hometown Oxford didn’t she? You’re a physio and have a fitness background I think, so what was that experience like?

That’s right I do and I loved it. It’s nice how Libby and I connected. We met when I did a Run Tingz stream with Kara and Maddy V and hit it off straight away. We’re both a similar age and both have children and both share a passion for the fitness thing and the music. She’s such a lovely woman and I’m so inspired by her work ethic.

Massively! What’s it like playing to fitness classes?

It’s cool because they’re moving anyway so you can play what you want and mess around a bit more. It didn’t feel so serious, but you get in the zone anyway don’t you? DJing is the one thing that can do that for me. I find it quite hard to concentrate.

I have ADHD and I need to be busy all the time, my mind is always active. So, with DJing, I can focus and completely lose myself in it. I started DJing years ago when I was pregnant because my friend died and we wanted to make a memorial mixtape for him.

After that I didn’t mix for a long time then I was going through a difficult time and needed to concentrate on something and take my mind off things, so I borrowed a friend’s decks and mixed. It was such a great experience, to be able to take myself away from a really bad situation and it eventually led to gigs.

And you haven’t looked back!

I haven’t it! It’s mad; I remember being a child and whenever I was asked what I wanted to do in life and I would always say, ‘I want a family and I want to be on stage’. I didn’t know what I wanted to do on stage but that’s where I wanted to be and felt comfortable. I played a lot of instruments and things but I grew up, life happened, had a family, gave up hobbies and had my daughter and realised what life is all about again and things have been so much better. Now I’ve realised I’m living my childhood dream.

Goosebumps again! There’s a real appreciation for things too, as you’ve been through some serious life to get here. Silver lining on a grey cloud…

Honestly. I wouldn’t say it saved me, because I’d always be here for my daughter, but it saved my mental health and it’s given me this huge outlet. For example, when Skiba passed away, I just got my head down and wrote a tune. I felt I needed to put my emotion into something. It’s a similar feeling to how I feel when I mix and that’s the beauty of music – you can really put your heart and soul into it and get that release you need.

That’s great to hear you’re finding that articulation in the studio, too. Being able to get the ideas out of your head is a whole other world isn’t it?

It’s really weird. I struggle with computers, but I’ve found my own groove now and it works. I think the energy I can put into it is why I can concentrate on it. I’m using my energy. I’m experimenting with a lot things and just buzzing off my ideas. I’m using a lot of garage, old school grime and breaks because that’s what I listened to when I got into this, so everything I’m working on is a reflection of that.

You’re about to make your debut, right? On Biological Beats I think?

That’s right. I’m featuring on King Yoof’s album which is coming out soon on the label Biological Beats. I came up with an idea, sent it over and then went to his studio which is on a boat and I learnt so much from that session as we wrote it. He’s a good mate he’s got years of experience. It’s so nice to be able to sit in a studio with someone! I struggle with tutorials and videos because you can’t ask questions so I had a lot of fun and learnt a lot from that one. So that’s coming out soon. Before that, I’ll also be dropping a bootleg when I hit 10,000 followers on Instagram.

Oh yes, with Goat Shed!

That’s right. It felt right releasing it with them as they supported me so much with the Stay At Home festivals and I also played at their first Bristol event.

Yeah big up Goat Shed! Any more releases you can confirm following that?

I have got more tracks ready, but I’m waiting now because I’ve been signed by a new management.

Inside The Night… That’s a big look!

That’s right! We linked over the weekend in Prague, I played them my music and they’ve signed me. And I’m working with Urban for bookings too, so things feel like they’re levelling up.

Yeah totally! I know you’re down for that Problem Central residency at XOYO… What else can you confirm in the future?  

There are a lot of things I can’t quite say. I’m playing my favourite ever festival, which is mad, and I’ve had some crazy enquiries about playing at certain places I’ve always wanted to play at so that’s very exciting to even have those type of discussions. Oh I’m also playing a b2b with Kira at Electric Woodlands festival which I can take my dad to. It’s right by his house and he and my step mum have never seen me DJ so they’re coming to watch that which is another childhood dream.

Amazing! You did a video recently showing how you balance day job as a physio and the bookings. It’s a mad juggle!

It’s very intense. I work three days a week as a physio luckily, so I always have a long weekend. I tend to spend Monday doing social media things and promo and production. Then Friday I do more production before getting all the music ready for gigs at the weekend. It’s hard to fit it all in and, when I do have any time, I spent it with my daughter. I don’t have a social life at all! Or music feels like it’s a social life, I guess. But we’ll see what happens. I’ll always have my degree. That’s not going anywhere. So if music takes over for a bit, that’s great. What will be, will be. I’ve got a great team backing me up so let’s see what the future holds!

 

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A post shared by Katalyst (@katalystdnb)

All seems like perfect timing!

Honestly. 10 years ago, when I had my daughter, I was 23 and if you’d told me I’d have a degree in physiotherapy and DJing in the way I am now, I’d never believe you. I never would have expected any of this and I love it. Thank you!

Follow Katalyst: Instagram / Facebook / Soundcloud

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