With his latest EP Chocolate Money available in stores now, London based producer Kelpe not only contributed to our podcast. We also got the chance to speak to him about how he became a musician, his production methods and we take a look-out at future releases.
Maybe you can just start by introducing yourself?
I’m Kelpe, my real name is Kel McKeown, and I make instrumental electronic music and beats
Do you remember the first time you were fascinated by music?
I can’t really remember specifically the first time I enjoyed music, but I remember when I was a really young toddler sitting when my mum was playing the piano and she’d let me play the low notes at the same time she was playing. Not sure why she let me as it probably sounded awful. But the first time wanting to be involved with music was when I was a teenager, into punk bands and playing in a crap band with my friends. I’d also been messing around with an Amiga computer and a sampler but I can’t remember if that was before or after the band.
Ah, the good old Amiga!
Yeah, that was great fun, ProTracker and OctaMED. I had this computer game where you fly a plane and I found where the sound of the engine was stored and swapped it for a drum break, and when I played the game the engine would be a drum break, speeding up and slowing down with the plane, etc.
How serious where those attempts on the Amiga and what music where you into at the time?
I was into Altern8 and The Prodigy (the really early stuff) at the time of making that stuff. I was really into it, so I sort of took it seriously, although not seriuous enough to keep hold of what I made, if I heard it again -which i never will- it would probably sound pretty weak. But I used to spend a lot of time doing it, I was quite nerdy actually
So what were the influences on what you do now? Did you just keep on making music?
Making music wasn’t really a continuous process as there was a big gap from those teenage years to taking it up again years later when i went to university. So when I came back to it I was into all the electronica stuff. Warp stuff, Boards of Canada, Prefuse 73 etc.
I was going to ask you about DC Recordings, because I thought I didn’t know them. But then I figured it’s the label that brought us Tom Tyler, Octagon Man, Depth Charge and the likes, music I liked a lot when I was younger, before buying vinyl.
Well, I heard that Depth Charge album around 95 I think and loved it, I think that was quite an influential album. And I’d get excited when I found DC records in shops. [...] I got involved with them around 2002, I’d been a big fan of them years before but slightly lost track of their releases, then a friend suggested sending a demo in so I did that and they were into it. After encouragement I got together the first release The People Are Trying To Sleep. I was really pleased to be on the label and ended up releasing quite a few records with them, enjoying other stuff on the label too. They haven’t done much recently but apparently they’ll be back next with with Emperor Machine and Arcadion albums.
What I love about your music, is its organic sound, especially the drums…
I record a lot of drums. Either me playing or my drummer that I play live with all the time, Chris Walmsley (from Voice of The Seven Woods). Also, I did some recording a while ago in the drummer from Stereolab’s studio with Chris playing, still got a lot of material to work through.
Are you religiously using your own sounds only or do you sample records as well?
I’m not afraid to use samples. Some people try to never use samples and I think its silly to restrict youself like that. I think the golden age of recording was the early 70s and that’s why people sample stuff from that era so much. Anyway, I like to record stuff as well. It’s a good challenge trying to get my crappily recorded stuff to fit in with nicely recorded samples. And its a massive cliche but I’ll always try to chop up a sample into something new
What else do you use in your studio?
I use Ableton, I have two Akai controllers for that, the APC40, and the MPD24. The MPD I always use live, but so does everyone else as well now, it is probably the most used thing I have. Then I got a Moog Little Phatty, which is a stupid name but it sounds good. I got another small analogue synth which sits on my desk, the Doepfer Dark Energy. That’s pretty fat but tiny. A Technics 1200, an Italia Rimini electric guitar which I love, the bass guitar I’ve had since my teenage years. Also a fairly normal looking acoustic guitar and of course a Korg Monotron, which I don’t use much, just for fun.
I also want to ask about your cover art, who have you worked with?
Scot at La Boca, they are in the same building as DC Recordings, and owned by the same person. They do great stuff. They did the sleeve for this big stadium rock band here called Muse, so last year I saw their work every time I went on the underground. The new one, Chocolate Money EP (Fremdtunes), was by a Dutch guy called Mister Adam.
That EP will be out on November 22nd, are you already working on something new?
Yeah, recently I finished a collaboration with Coco Bryce on a track for his album, also on Fremdtunes. I’ve just submitted a new track for the next Astrodynamics compilation, which sounds like its going to be a brilliant compilation. I’m working on a 7″ for Coco Bryce’s own label, MYOR, and soon to be released is a remix I did for Huess, on Inaudible Answer, that’s going to be a good 12″. Other than that I’m just working on new tracks, thinking about the next EP or album
How does that work, do you have a concept in mind or do you record tracks and see what fits together?
I just start working, maybe with a specific change of sound that’s slightly different from the last release.
Any other music you’ve been enjoying lately that you’d like to recommend?
I’ve been listening to McDonald & Giles on repeat lately but that isn’t very recent. Some recent releases I’ve been enjoying is an album by ARP called The Soft Wave, not to be confused with Arp 101 which is great too. The new Bullion record on Young Turks is great, and I’ve been enjoying the last Dosh album Tommy. Dunian has got a free EP that’s really good as well.