MK gets realistic on the modern house renaissance, scopes summer festival overhaul for 2014
“I’ll be honest, sometimes I catch myself thinking, ‘how long will this phase last and what will I do when it is over?’ Things could go either way, that is the very nature of music, but there is nothing you can do but go with the flow.”
Sat in the lobby of East London hotspot The Hoxton, Marc Kinchen is in an surprisingly reflective mood. He’s just hotfooted it from a sold-out stint in Manchester and comes baring video evidence of the packed crowds MK seldom fails to muster these days. Evidently tired but ever the enthusiast, such downtime is becoming a rare and wonderful occasion for the Detroit house mogul known better by the initials on his left hand. The year so far has been a whirlwind of emotions and landmarks. He entered 2014 as one of the most in-demand club hoppers of the modern house crop, adding the ornamentation of a UK chart-topping Storm Queen remix to his name to secure that MK is unlike any other success story of the North American lot right now. He’s more than made up for jumping ship to fuel the pop world with meticulous productions, but the way things have unfolded still seem to be sinking in.
“There was always a bigger picture, but it feels I am only just getting a grasp of it,” he admits. “The shows are getting bigger and I am getting residencies all over the world. Two years ago it felt like I was lucky to get one show a month. It happened quickly and there is no instruction manual on how to deal with that sort of growth.”
Long before that unexpected chart-topper, Kinchen did his time in the pop world. It was a time before he had found his place in the industry, one that is reflected with a hint of disdain as he remembers the highs and lows of popular music that would ultimately redirect him to the dance floor. “What was frustrating was the fact that it could take six months to get a song placed at any given time, plus there was always a lot of ego management with that side of the business. There are arguments for what it can do for an artist, but I have no stimulation to make pop music again. The whole circuit is so political and the charts over in the US are totally screwed up. It is basically just based on money and I can’t get lost in that whole mindset when there is so much more interesting stuff to aim for.”
He recalls a time before the chart success. Both management and label alike had speculated that after a long spell of popularity and a staggered release, “Look Right Through” could be one of the first house cuts of its caliber to top the UK charts. Kinchen simply didn’t care. He had a show to prepare for. “For me it is the people that make the difference, not the numbers. It’s made up from so many different and somewhat distorted factors, be it political or business-orientated. It’s sort of flattering, but I find it hard to take too seriously.”
It’s this attitude that has made such offers as remix duties for “Gangnam Style” and Beyonce so humorous. More often found remixing the alternative remits of popular music, there is little denying the weight his remodels hold on the digital market. They may be in abundance, but Kinchen is damned if an MK remix is to lose its value anytime soon.
“I turn down a lot of stuff and the things I do put my name to are very carefully thought out,” he explains. “I think back to that “Gangnam Style” offer and it just seemed so crazy – how could I even think of touching that record, whatever the budget was. Sometimes being real is more valuable than any advance from a record label.”
For now, MK looks to be an unmovable ship on the global taste buds. Unprecedented festival credentials are matched by stage hosting duties at We Are FSTVL, a whirlwind first residency in Ibiza and the usual globetrotting maneuvers of a man as grateful for the good times as he is skeptical of the future of his craft. “Given the politics and the music we are seeing today I don’t know if it will get that successful, and if it does it will be watered down so much that it simply won’t be the same. Things are good now and all I want to do is ride the wave with the same enthusiasm.”
In the meantime, two crucial chapters lie ahead for MK. Alongside Lee Foss and Anabel Englund, the promise of a Pleasure State album has kept the industry on its toes since early teasing of the project in 2013. “I’ve worked with a lot of people but this is the most comfortable I’ve been,” he admits. “Sometimes we get together and try to work, nothing comes out but we have a good time. Recording is fun with these guys. It feels different.”
The latter is an MK album – another project that has been a long time in the making and equally well scrutinized by an artist unwilling to take his hands off the steering wheel where creative destiny is concerned. “I am staying away from majors,” he grins, alluding to yet more of the crazy bids made for both long-playing projects. “I don’t want to be told how to make either album. Right now I want to get my own buzz and then write out our own ticket.”
Master of his own destiny and meticulously poised as an ambassador to house music’s modern renaissance, recurring chart glory is at the back of Marc Kinchen’s mind. The genre may have found its most realistic and heartfelt advocate to date and in his hands, the future of the craft looks built to last.