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In Conversation With Mitekiss

That slinky sassy double bass bassline on Tonic. That addictive emphatic vocal hook on Matter. That feel-good sunny side soul of Magic. That dark, sultry hypno roller Charter… It’s the new Mitekiss EP Objects To Push. And it’s a ray of light during these continually dark times.

His largest dispatch since his 2018-released debut album Crate Six Seven, Objects To Push lands in the midst of a pretty active lockdown for the south London artist. Already recruiting a strong podcast following, his live Twitch streams during the pandemic have been a weekly and insightful experience. His first concept was Rhythm Roulette, a stream where viewers could contribute songs for him to sample and he blindly sees if he can make a track on the spot with them. More recently, he’s been providing live feedback sessions where the whole chat group – many of whom are kindred studio spirits – all helping each other out.

Not only do both projects ensure a consistent presence for the man as we continue to live our raving lives almost permanently online, but they also highlight one of the strongest drivers: community and that feeling of being part of something. Currently balancing time between Hospital Records, his own label Goldfat Records (which he runs with Mr Porter) and his life as a freelance designer, we caught up with Mitekiss to look back over his journey so far and what we can expect next…

We’ve never spoken before but, knowing your music, I reckon you must have some musical training or background beyond D&B…

No! I’ve had zero training. I can’t play for shit. I can play you a basic song on the guitar but I can’t freestyle or write a song of my own on it. I can slowly work my ways around the keys and put things together and find my way. I get there eventually, but it’s not immediate playing like you might think. I didn’t come from D&B, though, you’re right about that. I dabbled in various genres for a long time, I’ve been making music and messing around for 20 years. I did some electro before and played around Europe quite a bit about eight maybe ten years ago.

A golden time for electrohouse…

It was a very different time. I was really lucky. I was in a duo and we got to do some cool shows and got paid quite well through it. We rolled with it for a while, but my heart wasn’t in it by the end. It was all a bit too much and I wanted to be more honest about my creative output. I was always making D&B on the side. I was brought up on it from my brother. He was doing a night in Croydon with Mr Porter and Blackeye MC.

Black Sheep?

No it was round the corner from there. A night called Pressure, every Wednesday. That was a vibe. Blackeye, Mr Porter and my brother have been mates since I was about six so I always looked up to them, and was fucking around with D&B since I was 15. For a while I rebelled against him and explored punk and indie – not realising how closely related they are to D&B in some ways – then the electro before realising I shouldn’t care about labels or anything else but just the music I love and release it myself. Ironically when I started to think like that, that’s when things started to happen for me, ultimately leading to being signed to Hospital.

You’re right about the punk angle. The whole DIY approach and energy and attitude to it…

I agree. It does come from a similar energy. There’s a lot of tension and aggression in the music. Especially the breaky stuff, you’re chopping up drums and you want to be loud and aggressive. I love that side of it, even though I’m known for something more musical.

I’m trying to think of anything you’ve done that’s particularly heavy…

Probably one I’m working on right now but in terms of what I’ve got out there then maybe Human on my album Crate Six Seven. That had some amens in it. I haven’t put out anything you would consider properly heavy. Some of the stuff I’m working on now is more in your face.

Is that lockdown inspired?

Possibly, yeah. It’s a release of energy and relaxation. I think we’ll hear a lot of tougher tunes in six to eight months time because of this. I have no idea how Hospital will take my harder tunes but they’re usually pretty open…

I wondered if the sound would be more experimental because of no clubs…

I think we’ll see that, too. I’m experimenting a lot. I’ve got some things at 160 which I’ve been playing with. That’s been really good fun. There’s a lot more space to play with at that tempo, I’m not sure how they’ll materialise, but it’s been interesting.

It’s all about keeping yourself interested right now. Like you did with the Rhythm Roulette streams where people would submit tunes for you to sample and create a tune from…

That was such an interesting process. It started because I was finding it hard to be inspired to write music off my own back. It pushed me. My audience isn’t massive, but 30 or 40 people watching you making a tune is quite intense. I didn’t listen to any of the songs they gave me to sample until the stream started, so anyone watching is seeing my reaction to the song first hand. It really pushed me and made me think about how I go about writing music in the future.

I spoke to Ill Truth about this in relation to them winning the recent Dub Wars contest. Haden’s rule was ‘believe in the loop’…

Totally agree with that. As soon as you get that vibe then you go for it. Fortunately I got that vibe with every Rhythm Roulette. But even if it didn’t? Then I’d take a micro-sample, process it and lay some nice piano down over it and blag something out of it!

Nice. So the new EP is basically the first big batch of Mitekiss music since the album… Did you take a break between?

Yeah there have been a few things out. Lie Awake with Degs and Something Real with Ruth Corey, both on the last Sick Music albums. There was a bit of a break because an album is a lot of work. Some of the tracks on Crate Six Seven started back in 2015. It goes to show you how long the process takes. But after the EP I didn’t take a break. I wrote around nine tracks, which we picked four from, and I’m still writing now.

Do you have a day job?

I don’t DJ so music is definitely not my prime income.

Oh wow… Yeah, so you don’t! That’s quite rare…

I have performed in the past, so it wouldn’t be alien. I could go on Hospitality events, I’m sure, but that for me – bearing in mind where I come from with my brother and his crew, and the way they were DJing – I’d feel very disingenuous and would struggle with it morally unless I earnt my stripes properly. Also, after the electro stuff, I struggled with my mental health for a long time. That point in my life was excessive and it fucked me mentally. I lost my job, I became a recluse and struggled to leave my house for three years and had to have therapy. Something snapped, my anxiety had gone through the ceiling.

It’s the extreme rollercoaster of that lifestyle. The hyperactivity and moments of loneliness. The travelling and comedowns. There’s a lot more excess in the more mainstream dance worlds…

So excessive. A lot of it was being young and dumb, I just couldn’t control it, but it took me so long to go back to what you’d see as normality. I couldn’t get a job, either, so I started my own design business, and over the years it built up to an eight strong team, we had an agency and an office. It was all because of this situation – I had to work on my own terms and no one else’s. So that was something good that came out of it. We closed the company last year and got something out of it, and I still do a lot of design and web work freelance.

Anyway, Hospital didn’t know about any of this and asked me about DJing. I opened up to them and to their credit they were really supportive and understood and never asked me again. Instead they’ve worked really hard on trying to find other ways to get me out there. So, I am very grateful for that.

That’s wicked. I guess another way you get out there is with your label Goldfat… 

Yeah we actually had it for a few years before I signed to Hospital, but we’ve been giving it a proper crack since the Andy Skopes release. It’s myself and Mr Porter and Pyxis is working with us. We’ve got a really nice community page between us and I’m happy with the vibe between us all and the new talent we’ve got coming up. It’s great to be able to help people. When we launched Goldfat, I’d got jaded with labels. There was no family appeal, just ‘yeah we’ll release that’. I thought ‘fuck that I can release it myself’.

The family feel is so important to me. I know what it’s like to be up and coming and be knocking on every label’s door. Some of those guys we’ve got on the label are in that position now and it’s great to be able to help them. We’re always giving feedback and help beyond the release and I ask them for feedback on my releases too. It’s important to feel part of something and I think that pays off in the future because people don’t forget who helped them and we all grow together. It’s bordering on the co-operative side of things.

I think when you reach a certain point in a creative career where it’s almost your duty to help and encourage the next generation coming through…

Definitely. Something that might seem like a small gesture might be huge for someone else. An artist in our group was buzzing that High Contrast was following them recently and a lot of the guys in the chat we’re super excited about it.  Rightly so; the longer you’re in the music game the more you get used to that but these are mega events for people when they’re developing. They’re also mega events for me! I still get them now.

Give me your last incident of that…

DJ Zinc messaged me and I was fanboying like crazy. He had a question about live streams, he’d watched some of a roulette stream, which was quite mad in itself. Anyway, he asked me a question about streaming on Twitch and I told him how I do it. Okay, it was about streaming and not about music but the fact he watched it blew my mind a bit.

Nice. Give me another one…

Hospitality On The Beach last year, meeting Makoto. He’s such a legend. So underplayed, it’s remarkable what he’s done. I had lunch with him thinking ‘fucking hell I’m having lunch with Makoto!’ I played it cool, of course, but it was a big moment for me, he was treating me like his equal. Naibu agreeing to collab with me was a real high, too.

Don! He doesn’t feel comfortable with DJing either, actually…

Yeah we’ve had a similar conversation. I relate to his approach. He’s a bit of an outsider. There’s something about him I’m drawn to and his music is just beautiful. There’s so much depth in his tracks. He just never seems to be appreciated publicly as much as I think he should.

Those who know, know. What’s up next from you?

I had eight or nine tracks that we picked this EP from so there could be a follow up EP. I don’t know. Or maybe they’ll go into a bigger project. What I’m most excited about is the amount of new talent on Goldfat. We’ve got Pyxis, Winslow, Leniz, PRSPKTV, Easy & Geeks…  A couple of names people might not know right now, but I genuinely think they’ll be bigger names in the very near future.

In terms of other things I’m doing, I’ve started hosting feedback sessions on Twitch, which has been super interesting. I have to admit I kinda feel like an imposter though. Rhythm Roulette was taking up a lot of musical energy so I switched it up to do something that’s more inclusive and engaging. It’s not just me giving feedback but other artists in the chat are offering feedback, too. So far I’ve had some really positive responses so I’ll keep that going for a while.

Community vibes!

It is! But it’s also imposter syndrome vibes. I’m not a mad technical producer certainly in comparison to guys like Halogenix or Workforce or Naibu. But I think I’m ok musically. So I don’t give technical feedback but more tips on arrangement and ideas like when to introduce vocals or when to add a pad to create more emotion. So that’s been cool. My Patreon has been quite active and there’s over a 100 people in the Discord chat so that’s been inspiring. Music-wise I’ve also got collaborations with Hugh Hardie, Whiney and Makoto all in different stages of creation.

Did the Makoto collabo come from that meal you mentioned?

No, I wasn’t that brave! We just had a few drinks and a laugh then kept in touch. I can’t remember who initiated the collab, but we’ve done a track together via the internet and I’m really happy with it. I don’t know what’s happening with that, but it’ll be out at some point along with everything else. And I’m thinking a lot about another album, too… Let’s see what happens.

Mitekiss – Objects To Push is out now on Hospital Records

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