“This is definitely the best album I’ve ever written,” Martin Reeves proudly assures me, speaking from his studio. After having just returned from a run of festivals in New Zealand and Australia – as well as making a quick stop for a video shoot – Martin Reeves, AKA legendary DJ Krafty Kuts, admits he’s feeling pretty jaded to be back in the UK. He’s been busy preparing for the release of his latest record with Dynamite MC, All 4 Corners – a name inspired by his travels, his discoveries along the way, and what they’ve brought to the music he creates today. “We’ve travelled all four corners of the globe and we love so many different styles of music from hip-hop breaks to drum and bass, to funk to bass music. This should epitomise what we’re doing, where we’re going.”
Reeves speaks to me nostalgically of his humble musical beginnings, “I absolutely loved it, down The Lanes in Brighton.” Twenty years ago, in 1997, he owned a small record store where just a few of his long list of loyal customers included Fatboy Slim, Damien Harris and the Skint Records crew. He’d been hanging onto a dubplate he’d cut his debut record on – a trick learned from the big drum’n’bass DJs of the decade. One day Norman Cook stepped into the store and in a bold flash of courage Reeves made the decision to part with his treasure – with no idea just how far that decision would take him. “I cut a little 10-inch – which cost about fifty quid! I thought, ‘You know what? I’m gonna give this to him. He’s such a cool dude and he’s gonna play this way more than me.’” Cook played the record on BBC Radio 1, where the Ministry of Sound caught wind of it and word continued to travel until Reeves signed his first 3-track EP with Ministry, going on to release a record on Fatboy Slim’s label, Southern Fried. And so, Krafty Kuts was born.
Once the ball had begun to roll, in keeping the momentum going Reeves designed his very own club night. If you’ve ever been clubbing in Brighton, you’ll have heard of Supercharged. Still going strong today, this party has graced some of Brighton’s most beloved gone-but-not-forgotten venues such as Digital, Audio and The Beach, as well as Concorde 2. “I had an incredibly blessed period of my life stemming out of Brighton just from the fact that I gave Norman the record!”
Now one of Britain’s most coveted DJs and producers, boasting two award-winning solo albums, countless EPs and endless remixes (including electronic royalty Justice and Hot Chip), not to mention his own Against The Grain label, Krafty Kuts is back with a bang on his latest record. He’s an artist who loves to work with others, and with a whole host of superstar collaborations on board he’s more excited than ever. Describing how different artists have pushed him to his very limits, he says “I think it brings the best out of me and I think it gives me an opportunity to really discover new flavours and new styles.” Out of Reeves’ most recent collaborations comes legendary hip-hop collective Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na. He laughs, “He’s told me some of the most extraordinary stories. He’s been there, seen it and done it. When we’ve stayed in a really rubbish hotel he never complains. I just think, ’this guy is really real.’”
When I ask Reeves about his writing process, he goes on to describe endless sources of inspiration, “I kind of try and vibe off the environment and different things that I’ve seen and heard.” Whether it’s hearing something on the radio on his way into the studio, watching a film, or listening to an old hip-hop record, he’ll be bursting with ideas and constantly thinking about the next step. He speaks to me about the importance of coming up with fresh ideas and angles and perfecting his work, whether that takes five minutes or five months, “It takes up day and night. There’s no switching off when you’re a DJ.”
Krafty Kuts’ latest single Ain’t My Fault featuring Chali 2na and Dynamite MC is slick with tongue-in-cheek political references and a reinvention of his older styles. He describes his newest writing style as “taking a little bit of old flavour and making it new again.” In fact, this was the track that turned it all around when Reeves hadn’t even planned to take the record out on the road. “When we played Ain’t My Fault in Brighton a couple of weeks ago at The Haunt it just went down so well! I mean, this was a Thursday night! It was cold, it was wet, and the place was packed! It just made me feel really proud that I’m still filling out venues in my hometown.”
Reeves is clearly a man who sticks to his roots, telling me how he has always felt supported by his hometown crowd and how this is something that always keeps him going. He recalls again the very moment he dropped his new single in Brighton, “Just, the look on people’s faces – it can be 200 people, 300 people, 40,000 people – it’s still the same, people are still loving what you’re doing. And it is an incredible feeling to know that people are vibing off the new music that you wrote.”
“I’m excited about what the future has to offer,” he says happily, “I’m feeling really blessed.” Reeves is confident All 4 Corners is a record that will bring the fun back into music. In an era where the world is full of stressors, full of politics, full of fear, he admits “It’s quite depressing sometimes, isn’t it?” On All 4 Corners, he hopes current and future fans will hear the record and discover something new – something fun. Describing himself as an upbeat kind of guy, he likes to turn the negatives in his life into positives – but confirms that the strongest emotions often produce the best music. “Reading about Donald Trump and stuff like that all the time, you kind of think ‘Where’s the world going?’ And Brexit… it’s a very topsy-turvy world that we live in,” he muses. “Let’s bring the funk back into the world. Let’s give people some good times.’”
Krafty Kuts’ new album, All 4 Corners, is out now. You can catch him live this summer at any decent club or festival.