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Interview: Kirk Spencer

25 January 12 interview: Paul Klotschkow
photos: David Baird

He's been played on Radio One, 1 Xtra and 6 Music, and has played at Reading and Leeds - not bad for a nineteeen-year old...

Are you a Nottingham lad?
I’m from Radcliffe-on-Trent way; it’s outside of the main part of Nottingham but it’s great as I’ve got all of my friends there. 

What is your earliest musical memory?
It has to be buying Spice Girls, and Five...I went to see Five at the Ice Arena.

Are you a big pop fan then?
Every kid kind of likes pop. I listened to my dad’s music, stuff like Bob Marley; and my mum’s music, which is quite Eastern influenced. She’s a yoga teacher. 

So having that whole ‘Eastern’ sound on Enter The Void isn’t some trend thing, it’s because you grew up listening to it...
Yeah, but it’s only been in recent years where I’ve really got into that type of music. At the moment I’m listening to a lot of psychedelic music from the sixties to early seventies of which a lot is influenced by Eastern music.

What was the first record you bought with your own money?
I can’t actually remember... it could have been a Spice Girls one. I didn’t used to spend my money on music a lot. 

Are you of the generation who have grown up with downloading music for free?
I think I am of that generation. It’s only recently I’ve been getting back in to buying music, as a kid I downloaded albums. I downloaded all of Radiohead’s albums, but when they released In Rainbows, I bought the full package and the tab book. I also buy music now because if I DJ with it, I need the quality to be high.

Do you think that as a musician, you can now see how people getting music for free has affected the traditional way of listening and purchasing music?
I can see how it is messing up the industry, but on the other hand I’ve discovered so many artists that are great and then gone on to see them play live; it’s a two way thing. The old
model has to change at some point; everything has to change. 

How did you progress to making your own music?
I started playing in a band and at school I found out about this project that was happening down at Community Recording Studios. I went there and met Trevor Rose and Nick Stez, who run the studios. They gave me the skills to learn how to produce; CRS is a studio where lots of things are happening, so you can get involved in lots of different aspects of making music. I’m still learning now.

You’ve been played on Radio One a few times now, how did that happen?
I found a short film on Vimeo that was set in India and the first track that I made for it was called Flying Through India. I listened to Nihal’s show on Radio One every week, so I sent it to him via Soundcloud and he played it. He didn’t just play it once he played it for four weeks. A lot of people you have to chase up, but I didn’t with Nihal - from that start he just liked like the track.

You’ve got three EPs out - has your sound changed much over them?
I guess it has, although I don’t actually know. I’m not sure if my approach to making music has changed, but people are constantly changing. Depending on what kind of mood I’m in,
the music I make will change and I’m teaching myself new stuff every day.

Which label are you working with?
I’m getting interest from some indies and some majors. A track that I did with Marita called Gold got on the Radio One playlist, so a lot of people heard that which helps. I’d like to get signed, just for the fact that it might help me see the world.

How do you re-create your music live?
Luckily I’ve got an amazingly tight drummer, Ben Fawce and I’ve got Marita who acts as the hype person and sings. It’s been awesome working with them. I’ve always listened to bands like Rage Against The Machine who literally rip up the stage and that is what I want to create, I haven’t done it yet, but I’m still working on the live show and some new tunes so I can create that effect. Getting a good reaction from a live crowd is one of time working on your music. 

Will you expand in to a full band set-up?
I’m working on a band project at the moment with Faley from Late of the Pier, which is really fun. 

You are also a dab hand at doing remixes. How many people have you done remixes for?
Not that many, I’ve turned down quite a few. Unless it is for a decent label then I don’t see the point. But recently I’ve done two remixes for a Playstation game called Unchartered 3. At the moment I’m working on quite a big track that I can’t actually talk about.

How do you put your stamp on a remix?
Sometimes I’ll listen to a track and there might only be a two words in the whole track that I like, so I would just use those two words. Same with a synth part, I’m not scared to take out a synth part and do a whole track around that. It’s just grabbing the bits I like.

What current Nottingham music are you listening to? 
I’ve always thought that Origamibiro are really inspirational. Some of the artists and graphic designers like Jon Burgerman and even filmmakers like Shane Meadows, they all inspire me. Bands like Late of the Pier because of their success and they way they got their stuff to look and sound.

How do you class yourself - are you a musician, producer, DJ or what? 
I would say that I am more of an artist. I’m not doing anything completely out of the ordinary though, I’m influenced by people like Flying Lotus and they get called electronic artists, so I’m going with that.

Is the city a supportive place for you to make music, or do you need to move elsewhere to step up? 
Nottingham’s been amazing; growing up here and going to nights like Wigflex and some of the nights that Dealmaker do. There’s still loads more that can happen in the city, but whether it does happen is a different matter. I think I will go to India; I want to see the whole world and all I really need is my laptop to make music. I’m also working on some sketches with my mate and hoping to do a comedy podcast together by this time next year. I’m not a comedian but my mates are. 

Why should whoever is reading this go out listen to your music? 
Because just like you guys are, I’ve been reading LeftLion since I was a kid - so you could be me one day.

Kirk Spencer website

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