Our new Mix Of The Week comes from Scottish DJ, producer and label owner Kevin McKay, who started his journey into production DJing in Glasgow in the 90s. Inspired by local DJs Harri and Slam and their soundtrack of Nugroove, Italo House and Balearic Beats, the artist began collecting 12″s from local stores 23rd Precinct and Raw Records and spent his nights making mixtapes to pass around the local bars and shops.
He spent the following decade releasing tens of albums and over 100 singles, after he set up his record label called “Glasgow Underground.” The label has gone on to release productions by Romanthony, Dixon, Gerd, Oliver $, PBR Streetgang, Laura Jones, Gavin Herlihy, Andre Crom, Ejeca and Andres alongside a core of new Glaswegian talent such as Mia Dora, Mash, Barrientos, Those Beats and Kevin himself. Their releases regularly feature on BBC Radio 1 and in the Beatport top 100.
Tomorrow, 21st June, Kevin has a new single coming out and an album which will be released in the next few months!
STEVE STIMPSON: Kevin McKay, great to have you featured with us here at Evermix in the midst of your busy schedule, with over 20 years hard work in the game, and still no signs of that changing, a true music professional is an understatement.
KEVIN MCKAY: Thanks very much! Things like that are always nice to hear J
You’ve been the man behind the productions on several top 40 singles and a UK Number 3 with Mylo as well as working with the likes of Linus Loves and Grum. How do you compare working with other producers and artists, to working on your own releases?
It is essentially the same process. The goal for me is always to make the most effective record possible (for whatever the purpose of the release is).
If I’m the A&R it’s a more hands off approach where I might suggest changes and or advise on direction, the kind of support that can be given over the phone or distilled into an email. In this role I can be like a mentor to encourage the artist to make the kind of decisions I think would benefit them or purely a sounding board. It is amazing how the act of playing a piece of music to someone or talking to them about it alters your feelings about it.
With production it can vary hugely. Some Mylo tracks (“Drop The Pressure” for example) hardly needed a thing. Others like “In My Arms” are radically different from the original demos with new styling, new beats, arrangement changes, samples replayed & reproduced. With artists like Linus Loves the process is the reverse of what it is in other styles. He would generally have an overall idea of what he wanted (“sample this”, “make something like this”) but didn’t contribute at the keyboard or on the computer so even though it was a collaboration, I was more like the artist working at his direction.
Working on your own just means you have to come up with all the ideas and make all the decisions yourself. Sometimes that can make it easier (no one to argue with!), other times it can be harder (no one to play that amazing Rhodes solo I want…)
Selling over 2,000 copies on your first labels release back in the 90s with Muzique Tropique then going onto starting a number of other labels including the marvel that is Glasgow Underground, what could you advise to first time music entrepreneurs?
Just be you. Get to know as much music as you can as find out exactly what it is you love and work with that. You can’t been passion to keep you motivated (God knows you will need that!).
Where can our listeners find you playing this summer?
I do a regular monthly party called “I Feel Love” at Mick’s Garage in Hackney Wick, London. That’s my favourite place to play right now and so a good place to catch me.
What are your Top 3 records in the bag at the moment?
Odyssey Inc. “Keep On Dancin” [Glasgow Underground]
Matt Sassari “Your Body” [Glasgow Underground]
Fleetwood Mac “Everywhere” (Kevin McKay Re-edit) [White label]
Glasgow Underground, has stayed consistent in its sound yet has seen the likes of Claptone, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Mosca and more joining the roster. Can you share with our listeners what to expect from the label this year?
I’ve always just released the kind of music I would play as a DJ. At the moment I feel that there is a lot of unmusical, overly repetitive dance music out there. It feels a lot like when the minimal scene was happening in the 00s. That kind of thing is not for me. So like back then I am finding my sets focussing on more joyous, musical, inclusive, energetic sounds. I hope the output of the label reflects that and I imagine that continuing this year.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get their record signed to Glasgow Underground?
Imagine the scene… You are in your favourite club, its 2am. The resident DJ has done a superb warm up. The floor is heaving and the resident has left on an absolute banger. Hands are raised and cheers fly up from the dancefloor. Make the record you’re dying to play next and then send it to us.
You have a very open-minded approach to dance music, DJ’ing for both underground events and the more mainstream side of dance too, what are three tips you can advise to new DJ’s wanting to make it in the scene?
Much like my advice to someone wanting to get into the business, just be you. You might get a wee bit of success from copying someone who is famous now but you can’t build a career on that. The only person you’ll be able to rely on is yourself so make sure you do what you love. Then you only need to ask yourself if it’s the right thing to do. And if you are feeling it, it will be.
DJ Dove & DiMO (Bg) – Walk On Out (Original Mix) [Glasgow Underground]
Matt Sassari – Your Body (Original Mix) [Glasgow Underground]
Mike Vale – Music Is The Answer (Original Mix) [Glasgow Underground]
Hyslop – Clappin’ (Original Mix) [Glasgow Underground]
Odyssey Inc. – Keep On Dancing’ (Original Mix) [Glasgow Underground]
Alex Twitchy – Summer Way (Original Mix) [Downtown Underground]
Ben Delay – All I Need Is You (Extended Mix) [Nervous]
Mambo Brothers – If You Wanna (Extended Mix) [Armada SUBJKT]
Start The Party – Million Dollar Bill (Kevin McKay Remix) [Glasgow Underground]
OFFAIAH ft. Cat Connors – Something Special (Club Mix) [Defected]
Kevin McKay & David Penn – Hallelujah (Extended Mix) [Glasgow Underground]
Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere (Kevin McKay Remix) [Private Dance]