FAULT Magazine In Conversation With Kevin McKay

Kevin McKay, Pupa Nas T and Denise Belfon have released their new take on the soca house classic ‘Work’. This track is an exciting collaboration between three talented artists, each bringing their own unique style to the song. The track fuses elements of soca and house music to create a feel-good anthem that will have listeners singing along in no time.

We caught up with Kevin to discuss his musical journey and of course, his FAULTs.

What would you say was the main inspiration behind “Work”? 

99% of the time I make music, I aim to create something that will work in a particular DJing environment. I get many ideas playing out or planning sets and thinking about what I want to play. The idea for this track came from a set I played with Armând at Night Tales in Hackney. Before I played, he mixed the acapella of “Work” over this heavy house cut, and the place went wild. The next day I wanted to make my own club track using the acapella. I made a few different versions and then finally settled on this percussive track. I then managed to track down the original owners of the song and they loved it so much they let me release it. 

When it comes to production, do you like to work in seclusion, or do you want to immerse yourself in outside inspiration? 

I love making dance music and I don’t have any rules about how that happens. I make a lot of my music at home on my laptop but I also collaborate with other artists. Sometimes the tracks are inspired by external events, like Work. Other times I’m just imagining what I want to hear at that specific moment. With all my music though, I work with an amazing A&R team at Glasgow Underground led by Sam Dexter and so nothing happens purely in isolation. 

As House grows in popularity among younger listeners, are there any interesting changes you’ve recognised today compared to 90s listeners? 

I think each generation of young people that go clubbing view dance music in a different way. In the 90s it felt like the scene was much more secular with each strand of fans getting their information from a select group of tastemakers. Whereas nowadays people can go on their own musical discovery and find music from countless different sources. It’s meant that tastes today feel a lot more eclectic. There are still big tunes that are constant but they are less predictable than they were in the 90s. 

What’s the secret behind the longevity you’ve achieved in the industry? 

The label isn’t driven by a specific sound; we’re driven by what works on the dance floor so we’re always looking for the next big tunes and that’s kept us current. There was a time in 2002 when I had a very fixed idea of what I wanted to release but sales weren’t going so well, so much so I had to downsize and restructure. That was a big wake up call for me and I vowed never to just release what I want but to focus on giving DJs what they want. 

You’re always releasing, touring, or working on your label; have you ever burnt out? 

Fortunately not. I really love what I do and would make music all day every day if I could. I really enjoy working with other artists on the label. Every day is different and that keeps things interesting. 

How do you avoid burning out in future? 

If it stops making me happy then I’ll stop doing it! 

What would you say has been the most challenging creative hurdle to overcome? 

Working out which of your ideas are the good ones and which ones should be discarded. It’s extremely hard to do this on your own and it’s tough to find someone that you trust enough to let them be part of that decision making process. I’m very lucky to work with a brilliant A&R team and that allows me to finish tracks in one or two days when it used to take me weeks. 

What are you most looking forward to this year? 

We’ve just launched a monthly party called Super Feel at Dalston Den. I love the venue; it’s a small basement with a great sound system. I’m looking forward to building the event and making the kind of music that will make that party extra special. 

I’m enjoying creating original music again and plan on releasing an album later this year, which I’m really excited about. 

As a creative, how have you found navigating the business side of music with your label? 

I didn’t actually become a “creative” until I was in my 20s. I had quite a formal upbringing that centred around traditional subjects like maths and science and even did a business diploma before I set up my first record label. As a result of that, I’ve always enjoyed the challenges of the business side of things. 

What is your FAULT?

For a large part of my life I was a perfectionist and it’s only with age and experience that I’ve realised that’s not necessarily a good thing. Now I’m much more relaxed about creating and focus on enjoying the process rather than stressing about minute details that other people wouldn’t even notice.