If you type in Kevin Gorman's name in Beatport, the list of artists who have remixed him or he has remixed reads like a 'who's who' of techno. Not to mention his own productions which stand alone and on some serious labels. Yet this unassuming producer from Chester in England (DJ Hell has described him as being 'like Robert Hood after eating too much sushi") is quietly working away on what we can presume is some stellar new music under an alias and already receiving Radio 1 airplay. We caught up with him on skype while taking some time out in Vietnam.
CGNY: Hi Kevin! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me! Well I’m thinking with a name like Gorman you might have some Irish in ya?!
Kevin Gorman: Yes I do. Been lots of times. Love Ireland.
CGNY: Where have you played?
Kevin Gorman: Obvious places like Dublin and Belfast, but also Cork and Limerick lots of times, and Waterford.
CGNY: You’ve covered the country alright!! I think Ireland, like NYC is sort of getting a techno infusion! I saw Dave Clarke was in Waterford in December.
Kevin Gorman: Yeah they love the music hard down there!
CGNY: I never would have thought Waterford and techno - never!
Kevin Gorman: No, but there’s one guy I know who puts everyone on, Niall Power.
CGNY: So just to get a bit of background info. You grew up in Manchester yes? Which is a city well known for many genres of music. But how did you get into techno and start djing first?
Kevin Gorman: I grew up in Chester about 40 miles from Manchester. I had the typical small town obsessive music thing i.e. I didn’t know many people into hip hop or house. I won’t go into detail, but it’s that thing where you grow up somewhere a bit crap for music and it makes you heavily into music. This was pre-internet days, my only source for info was a weekly two hour radio show (Stu Allan) or the local record shop.
CGNY: I well understand that! I was crazy into dance music and disco in my home town and pretty much alone in my love of it for the most part!
Kevin Gorman: I bought synths as a kid and decks at 17 but didn’t ever take it seriously. Also couldn’t be bothered with small town DJing: the worst way to get into it. Small town DJs and promoters are the worst!
CGNY: Doing little local gigs for weddings and stuff?
Kevin Gorman: No I mean crappy small clubs with local DJs with enormous egos.
CGNY: Even worse, with no appreciation for the art?
Kevin Gorman: Yeah exactly.
CGNY: Did you study music in university?
Kevin Gorman: I studied Multimedia Design which was graphics, photography, filmmaking and some music. I started producing music in my third year at 22.
CGNY: And that music was influenced by any particular sound/artist or genre?
Kevin Gorman: It was mainly hip hop stuff but without the vocals.
CGNY: Really? So not really techno at all?
Kevin Gorman: Not at first, no. Although I'd grown up loving house and techno I didn’t have interest in making it.
CGNY: Were you a clubber yourself? Did you like going out to 'raves' etc?
Kevin Gorman: Yes in a small way, although I was never a hardcore clubber. I just liked the music mostly.
CGNY: I see. So when did the switch happen for you? Was it a process of experimentation over time and a gradual migration to more of the electronic music we know you for or was it more of a eureka moment?
Kevin Gorman: It was 3 years later, when I was working in Brussels as a designer. I started buying a lot of old techno and house because the record shops there were incredible. At that point (2001) I decided that I needed to make a go of it. So I quit my job. At that point I hadn’t even had a record out.
CGNY: That was a pretty big leap of faith!
Kevin Gorman: Yes definitely. I wasn’t really cut out for corporate life. I gave myself small ultimatums like, if I didn’t get a single bit of interest in my demo then I’d go back to design, but I did get interest.
CGNY: From whom initially?
Kevin Gorman: Intergroove Distribution in London
CGNY: For a techno track? What release?
Kevin Gorman: No it was tech-house stuff, a mangled mix of west coast style house and Dave Clarke Red One. It was called Mardi Gras. I released as 'Cheech' and a few other aliases for the first 5 years. I released sporadically; like 5 or 6 releases in 5 years.
CGNY: Were you being careful with what you were putting out? Were you djing or doing anything else to supplement your work as a producer?
Kevin Gorman: No just not very productive. Not very experienced I guess. It was a weird time in dance music. Vinyl was dying when I started. We used to send out 50+ vinyl promos which was expensive
CGNY: Most certainly. So when do you think your 'big break" happened? I mean you’re putting out stuff but not frequently. So what or where did the shift come? Through a new label?
Kevin Gorman: 2006 a lot of stuff happened. I started a fresh label Mikrowave, using my experience gained. Then I hooked up with Net28 / Alex Under. Then I got signed to International Deejay Gigolo. It all happened quickly.
CGNY: So Mikrowave came first yes?
Kevin Gorman: That’s right.
CGNY: But starting the label... was there a track or release or - I'm trying to get a sense of how people I guess came to hear your music or was just more of a slower building connections kind of thing?
Kevin Gorman: Well I paid for PR for the label so DJs got it. Fergie was playing a lot of techno on BBC Radio 1 and he supported the label a lot. He had people from ELP distribution (my distributor) giving him records.
CGNY: So your music was getting into the right hands...that makes sense and obviously they liked it.
Kevin Gorman: Yeah and I had a few lucky breaks with remixes too. The Alex Under remix blew up.
CGNY: I was looking at your portfolio on Beatport yesterday! Is there anyone who hasn't remixed your tunes or whom you've not remixed!! Seriously - like a who's who of techno - Capriati (who I'm seeing for the first time this weekend) and of course Marcel Dettmann among the many names!
Kevin Gorman: I know! It’s quite a list on Mikrowave. Not to mention the ones that didn’t make it.
CGNY: Right! You must be very happy with that!
Kevin Gorman: Definitely, and at least 2 artists released their first records on Mikrowave.
CGNY: Well I know you helped get the Cassegrain sound out there! You sort of put Huseyin and Alex come up with their band name!
Kevin Gorman: Yes, also Mihalis Safras had his first release with Mikrowave.
CGNY: What comes first for you, the producing or the djing? Or is it all somewhat combined?
Kevin Gorman: Both are equal for me.
CGNY: What are you using to produce these days? I think you use midi controllers to DJ?
Kevin Gorman: To produce I use mainly Ableton, but slowly getting back into hardware as well. DJing I’ve sacked off controllers and gone back to vinyl or CDs. Complete 180 turn.
CGNY: Really – how come?
Kevin Gorman: I felt I lost my way with DJing and music. Coming back to vinyl has been what I needed.
CGNY: That's interesting. Well you know the debate sort of rages on about vinyl versus CDs versus controllers on social media! And what is the 'authentic' DJing experience…
Kevin Gorman: People on the internet love that one!
CGNY: But I can see if you started out on vinyl that you would or might come back to that.
Kevin Gorman: Yes, it’s just the simplicity and the sound.
CGNY: Now you've also scored a movie about the shark finning industry. How did that come about and is that something that you have more curiosity to pursue?
Kevin Gorman: I was in Mozambique and met these film makers who needed music for their film. I played them these Steve Reich inspired repetitive phase pieces I’d made.
CGNY: It was perfect! I watched some of the movie yesterday on Vimeo. Very appropriate.
Kevin Gorman: Thanks. They eventually came out on vinyl, cut down a lot, on Stroboscopic Artefacts.
CGNY: Lucy's label – yes that would make sense... love that label and Lucy's work.
Kevin Gorman: Yes Lucy is a cool guy.
CGNY: You're fairly prolific now musically I think yes? With the label and releases?
Kevin Gorman: Well the last 2 years not so much. I took a break from music 2010-2012. Did the odd release and remix but was doing other things.
CGNY: Must be nice to be able to do that and sort of dip in and out of the pool.
Kevin Gorman: Yes, I needed it I guess.
CGNY: And knowing that you're keeping a presence out there too.
Kevin Gorman: Well it wasn’t intentional, keeping a presence just did the odd thing e.g. a remix for a friend etc.: but I needed the break.
CGNY: This business can wreck your head a bit too - anything in the entertainment industry can be frustrating and exhausting at times.
Kevin Gorman: But you take a break and come back wiser. I’ve done it 3 times now.
CGNY: You have the skills. You know you can make music. You have your label and the support of people, the right people. I heard about you through Huseyin and then I bought 789 - Dettmans mix
Kevin Gorman: Ah cool!
CGNY: Olbia - another great cassegrain track and Velvet (your own) which I have to say is killer! What do you think makes a track memorable?
Kevin Gorman: ...thinking.... I guess it’s something in a track that connects with something deeper in you than you can explain.
CGNY: I read recently, a producer said “I don't like techno that doesn't make me feel nervous or aggressive...”
Kevin Gorman: Yeah I like that! I suppose I see it in a similar way. Techno needs to have attitude or mood. It shouldn't be too 'nice'.
CGNY: So you're in Vietnam now - just for vacation or a change of scenery or for inspiration?
Kevin Gorman: All 3, for a few months.
CGNY: So in the regular world and the techno world of music - who are artists if any that you like to listen to? Or that' have caught your ear recently?
Kevin Gorman: Well I always check out music coming from the US. Detroit /Chicago, Analogue sounding stuff.
CGNY: Did you happen to read that RA piece a few weeks ago about the resurgence of harder style IDM - sort of coming out of Manchester?
Kevin Gorman: No didn’t see it, but two of my good friends are part of that scene, AnD. They've found their sound with it. Though I'd say personally I'm going a different way.
CGNY: Towards something more melodic you mean?
Kevin Gorman: Yes very much so. I've not been making much techno. I've started releasing under an alias, but it's anonymous for now.
CGNY: For this newer material? I see.
Kevin Gorman: It’s just giving me space to make a wider range of music.
CGNY: Any new artists releases on Mikrowave?
Kevin Gorman: Mikrowave has no immediate releases no. I’m sure it will pick up again at some point but my immediate thoughts are elsewhere.
CGNY: Have you ever played in the States?
Kevin Gorman: Yes. New York, Chicago and Minneapolis. I played a mad party in Chicago called Podval, it's in a Russian guys basement in his house where he has Funktion One. In Minneapolis for Jesse Jakob’s parties called Black, as well as a warehouse thing there too. In New York I forget the name.
CGNY: Any plans to come back stateside? NYC is the middle of a big techno rush right now
Kevin Gorman: No immediate gigs but of course I’d love to come back. Possibly I’ll be in New York this summer, tbc.
CGNY: Good. Keep us in the loop. I'm really getting into the darker shades of stuff - coming from ShapedNoise and Casual Violence, Demdike Stare and Andy Stott
Kevin Gorman: I know Andy a bit and Miles of course did a remix for Mikrowave. Amazing producers.
CGNY: Their gig last year was my CGNY Party of the year! And I saw a lot of amazing djs. NYC has a thriving techno scene. It’s still not as big as Europe but it’s really picked up in the last few years. This weekend Klock on Friday, Capriati on Saturday Mark Broom and Dasha Rush on Saturday too.
Kevin Gorman: The first house music I was into was from NY circa 1992-93. Masters at work. Todd Terry etc. NYC was always heavy, tough beats so I can see why techno would work, although it will be the next generation listening of course. Maybe they heard their parents Todd Terry records!
CGNY: Who knows!! We can hope! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me Kevin!! Continued success in all your endeavors and hope to see you in NYC this summer!
For more information on Kevin visit : http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/kevingorman