Kevin Knapp Continues His Groove on the ‘Worldwide’ EP

If you want to feel the groove, listen to a Kevin Knapp track. He proclaimed his prowess back in 2012, stating “My Beat Will Control You.” This has evolved into his recently released Worldwide EP, inspired by the U.K. sound and crafted specifically for the dance floor.

Desert Hearts, known for pursuing all types of positive vibes, released Worldwide, which kicks it old school with defined A- and B-sides. At the same time, the release represents yet another collaboration Knapp has done with Desert Hearts.

He released his Bleep Blop EP through Mikey Lion’s label back in 2019 and, through fall into winter, has been touring as part of the Dirtybird Campout crew.

Knapp had a chance to speak with us about this EP and his return to performing live.

Tell us about your background. How did you get started with production?

What up, what up Repeat/Replay? What’s good? Thanks for having me for a chat. My background in music started actually around age 10 as a singer. I’m classically trained and spent many years through high school and early college competing as a tenor.

I picked up production in the mid-aughts while collaborating with one of San Francisco’s old school prolific artists named Jondi. We made a few cuts together and the rest is as they say, history.

Your first major track came out about a decade ago. How have you grown as a producer since?

Basically I’ve become faster and more confident. I’m better equipped to tell whether an idea has legs or not quickly, and I am able to cut and run quicker than in the early days, if not, when I would slog through projects just because I thought they could be salvaged.

Of course, you also form creative habits and templates that help you get your ideas out quicker and that helps speed things up quite a bit, as well.

Beyond production, your vocals also appear on your records. How do you approach adding vocals into your productions?

It’s funny, I guess it’s so intuitive for me at this point that I don’t really consider the process.

To be real, I usually leave a loop I dig on repeat, turn my chair in the opposite direction from the monitor, lean back and close my eyes, and figure out the lyrical puzzle pieces that I feel fit what I’m hearing.

kevin knapp

I spend a fair amount of time fitting the syllabic rhythm into the groove. Once I’ve got the groove swinging flawlessly, between the record and the lyric orientation, I know we’re there.

Let’s talk about your Worldwide EP, which has more of a minimal sound compared to what listeners typically hear from Desert Hearts. What was your inspiration for this release?

It’s a pretty unbridled hedonistic record, in my opinion. What I mean by that is with Worldwide, I literally was just trying to create as much energy and pressure as I could, with enough moxie in the vocal to stand up to the impact of the beat.

With “You The Truth,” I was just thinking about the swagger it takes to be in dance circles, as my heart has always been into dancing first.

Steel sharpens steel as they say, and you always want someone in those dancing instances to bring their best, because responding to that makes you better. So, in the funk of the record and with the content of the vocal, I just wanted to throw my hat in the proverbial ring.

Why did you select the tracks you did for A- and B-sides?

I can’t see “Worldwide” being a B-side in almost any instance. It waits for no one. Hahahaha.

This release and Bleep Blop are on Desert Hearts. How did you end up working with the Desert Hearts crew?

The story is that in Costa Rica back in 2018 I met Rybo backstage at the Ocaso festival. I had heard about the DH crew for years, and was genuinely excited to be in the same place as them, finally, at a festival. We had a ridiculous evening and were instant homies.

I played Desert Hearts in 2018, and honestly, it felt a little bit like coming home. The entire crew was so welcoming, and I feel like their musical approach and generally vibe intersect a lot with my own.

Lee came out to Berlin for a couple summers in a row, and we’d gallivant around the city generally getting up to no good, and I knew I had a friend who I felt super close to pretty much immediately, just because of his vibe. 

I actually feel like I’ve had really special moments with each one of them—Mikey, Marbs, Porky, and  Lee—all at different times for different reasons, and it’s really cool that it depends on the day you ask me as to which one I’m closest with.

It means they are all great, IMO. I consider them all good friends in this music game for sure and each one for different reasons.

Do you have any more releases planned for 2021, and if so, what should listeners expect?

I’ve got an EP coming late this month on Crosstown Rebels called “Dancing with the Devil.” Buckle up because it’s a ride for sure!

Desert Hearts had its artists doing sets on Twitch. What was your approach for your set, and how did this differ from performing live?

I’m a performer probably as much as I’m a DJ. The chance to perform on camera actually provided an opportunity to push the envelope visually in a bit of a different way from being on stage. I really enjoyed it!

The marathon sets the crew all were playing were impressive, and slightly intimidating, haha! I played a couple eight- and nine-hour sets, and those were honestly the longest performances of my life.

I enjoyed them and love that they happened. I’m more of a punchy quick hitter kind of cat though, so I’m not sure how many of those will transpire moving forward, we’ll see! 

Artists have returned to performing live over the past few months. How has it been going back to live performing?

I love being on the road and being surrounded by people that love the music as much as I do.

I played Dirtybird Campout a couple of weeks ago, and I feel like I exploded on stage just from all the pent-up energy from the hiatus! It’s gooooooood to be back!

Writer

Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born EDM and synthpop enthusiast and interviewer who recently relocated to beautiful Boston, MA.

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