Like many musicians, Kallum Brookes (aka K Motionz) found it hard to readjust to the early months of the pandemic. One of the most in demand artists since he released his debut album The Evolution at just 19, the lack of shows dampened the creativity that had been the driving force of the young producer’s meteoric rise. However, after getting a call saying he would have the opportunity to get out to New Zealand, he found the inspiration that now sees him sitting on the most music he’s ever made.
Last month saw him release his latest EP One Night Only; four tracks that represent the darker side of his production. Taking influences from the likes of Alix Perez and Halogenix, K Motionz added his own unique sound to carve out brilliantly juxtaposed pieces of music that balance vocal samples with heavy-hitting bass stabs.
Over the course of the rest of the year, he’s set out plans to release music at regular intervals, demonstrating a desire to push his sound into every corner of the scene. From big-beat, summertime anthems to moodier numbers laced with atmosphere, he feels the time is right to showcase his talents for producing across the drum and bass spectrum.
The start of the year also saw K Motionz journey down under to New Zealand, where for two months he immersed himself in the current drum and bass capital of the world. He played across the country at some remarkable clubs and festivals, giving him a chance to road test all the new music he has under his belt (including a certain remix of Hack It by Break!)
We gave him a call to hear all about his recent EP and what it was like playing it to packed-out crowds…
We’re just over a year on from the start of the pandemic and it’s fair to say few have had as successful a year as you. How would you reflect on the past twelve months?
At the start it was all such a surprise and it really hit me in the face. I wasn’t inspired to make any tunes because I knew the pandemic would be going on for a while. I was just chilling out, doing bits and pieces and teaching myself new stuff with my production. After a few months nothing had gone by and I was starting to feel really down in the dumps with it all, but then I got the inquiry that New Zealand was going to be happening. That really lifted my spirits and I got back into the rhythm of making tunes. Being in New Zealand got me excited for the future again and since then I’ve just been buzzing off the thrill of being there. That thrill has been pushing me forward as the whole experience was so good for inspiration.
As someone who was such a regular player on the events circuit it must have been hard for you to readjust to not playing any shows…
Absolutely. I used to be out two or three times a weekend so to go from that lifestyle to nothing was a massive change. It sounds good on paper because it gives you a chance to have a bit of a break but when you’re so used to being up to 6am on the weekends it’s really strange. I really enjoy the late nights and driving back from shows in the early hours; I’d much rather be doing it than not. For example, when I used to play in Brighton it used to be about three hours away and I used to hate it, but now I’d absolutely love to do it again. It’s made me realise how important shows are!
I saw your post on World Mental Health Day about the effects of the pandemic. I suppose this losing of routine is what is the hardest…
Yeah man, definitely. It’s been a massive struggle for everyone, but I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel now. We all thought it would be over by August last year, but now hopefully we’ve got a date to work towards. I’m praying for June 21!
Let’s move onto the music. You’ve just had your latest EP out. How would you assess where you are with your sound right now?
This EP was me looking to put out more of a darker style as it’s something I’ve done in the past and people have really liked. I’m going to be moving towards the summer releases soon which will be a little bit more upfront and in your face, just that typical big dance floor kind of beat. So, I wanted to look at doing a darker project because I really love that sound and it plays a big part in my productions.
When I listened the thing that stuck out to me was the juxtaposition between the nice vocal samples and the weighty darkness you mention…
I listen to a lot of artists like Alix Perez and Halogenix and I love their take on it all. Their approach is a bit more minimal, so I thought why couldn’t I make my own style by adding my own influence to it and making it a bit dirtier. I think that’s what I’ve done, to the best of my ability anyway. I’m really happy with the outcome though.
When were these tracks made?
Three out of the four tracks were made while we were in lockdown, so just me alone in my bedroom for hours and hours!
You went down to the Devon Analogue Studios to finish one of them though, right?
Yeah, I’ve actually been down there like three or four times now and it’s so, so good for inspiration. If anyone is struggling to write tunes, get down there! You won’t regret it. It’s so much fun; I normally go down with another producer friend and we’ll just bounce off each other for ideas. I think last time I did like a 16-hour session just making tunes haha. I’ve been there with Subsonic, Simula and Annix before and we literally just share the time and inspire each other. By hearing their music, it really influenced me to make certain changes to the EP which made the finished product what it is.
With the concept behind the EP, you’re obviously really confident with where you are as a producer right now…
I’ve always wanted to be the type of person who can put out an EP like One Night Only and then something that’s completely different, whether that’s happy and summery or something that appeals to the commercial scene and get radio play or whatever. The plan is to showcase my spectrum by doing the darker style now and then come back to it at the end of the year once the summer has gone.
It’s all well and good having all this music but you need somewhere to play it, and you’ve just got back from New Zealand doing just that!
First time I got to hear the tunes out was really weird. I used to make a tune in a week and then play it out on the weekend so to have been sitting on them for all that time was strange. Playing them to the people over in New Zealand was amazing; they’re so, so, so passionate and they just love the music. Everyone was so happy and energetic, and it just really inspired me to make loads of tunes when I came back.
Put into words the feeling of playing that first show back. Were you nervous?
Yeah man! Walking onto stage for the first show was weird, getting a rider for the first time in about 11 months was weird. I had the absolute time of my life out there though as I think people can tell from my videos!
How was the quarantine?
The first couple of days were completely fine, they were nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. When I got around to the seventh day, I’d done literally everything there was to do and was so bored and by the end I was like please just get me out of here! Knowing I had the chance to play shows at the end kept me going though.
We’ve all just been enviously watching the New Zealand scene. As someone who’s been immersed in it, what’s it like?
There’s always been this little bit of playful controversy between the UK and New Zealand over which scene is better, but New Zealand is actually really special. You kind of have to be there to understand the feeling of it all, but it’s just a bit different but incredible as well. Everyone is just so nice, there’s never any issues at the events or anything negative like that. Every show sells out and has the best atmosphere, it’s basically the biggest genre in the country!
You ended up staying out there for another month in the end…
I had to, it was so insane. We ended up doing another tour as well. I did two shows at Spark Arena with Netsky. That had like seven thousand people at and I was on a 360-degree stage, so I had the crowd to my sides and behind me as well. That’s definitely been the highlight of my career to date, and to do it in New Zealand as well makes it even more special.
The thing that stuck with me from watching all your videos was seeing the footage of Break’s remix of Hack It- I bet that tore the roof off of every place you played…
When I’d come back from a show that would be the first thing that everyone was asking about- ‘when’s the Break remix coming out?’ The original did quite well in New Zealand which was something I was surprised about when it first happened, and obviously Break’s an absolute legend so smashed the tune.
The original was one of the standout tracks of last year, it almost had an anthem-like status about it. It’s been hugely significant for you and your career…
I didn’t think it was going to be what it was to be honest. It was only after finishing it that I realised it was a really catchy song with the vocal, so it really sticks in your head. You never want to predict if a tune is going to do well or not but knowing how good the vocal is from Duskee, I knew it would stick with people. Big up to Duskee on that one!
How did Break get involved then? You mentioned how much of a legend he is so if he’s getting involved on your tracks you know you’re onto a bit of a winner…
I’m pretty sure he was playing it a bit last year and I was thinking in December why not get a remix done for the track before I went to New Zealand so I could play it out there. We had a think and were coming up with some names and I was like why don’t we ask Break? We went to UKF with it and they sorted it in like a week. We sent it over to him and he came back with the remix in like three weeks. His quality is just so good as well.
What can we expect from you for the rest of the year then?
Basically, I’m going to be releasing the most tunes I’ve ever done this year, probably every month. There’ll be the dance floor, summery beats that I mentioned earlier, I’ve also got a tune coming out with IC3 soon. I’m just trying to fit in everything that I like and want to make, just to really show off my sound and demonstrate how it can be pushed into every sub-genre.
And then if all goes to plan, we’ll have some shows to get us through the summer!
I’m trying to not get myself too excited just in case they don’t happen. There’s lots to look forward to though. In August Chase and Status have their RTRN II DANCE party and the lineup is absolutely stacked. There’s Andy C, Wilkinson, Dimension and loads of other names playing, so I’m really excited for that. I just want to do a festival though, even one will do; I want to be back playing in the UK.
You mentioned in the recent Drum&BassArena documentary that you think when shows return in the UK, the scene will be the strongest it’s ever been…
I think it really will as well. Everyone is so excited for shows to return and lots of people will have saved money by not having them for so long. I think every event will sell out and be absolutely packed. There’s also so much young talent that has really revitalised the scene. There are too many names to mention, but people like Disrupta and Waeys are standouts. They’re bringing something that’s a little bit different; every release is fresh. I encourage everybody to do that to be honest, to really show off your capabilities by pushing yourself to be different.
To finish, after being in New Zealand and seeing the scene over there, is there anything you’d like to see different here in the UK when shows return?
It’s pretty rare but sometimes there is a little bit of trouble over here at shows, so when we come back, I hope everyone is a little bit more relaxed. I think they will be as well, because we’ll recognise how much of a privilege it is having the opportunity to go to so many shows. The pandemic showed how in a flash they can be taken away from us. Hopefully everyone will realise how lucky we are and not cause trouble or make anyone else’s life difficult. Everyone can just be back together enjoying the music.