We Dent Melons with Nic & Kaleb
Originating from the same South London borough, Nic and Kaleb’s paths crossed in the mid-90s after Nic was impressed by Kaleb’s regular pirate radio show. They have since forged a potent back-to-back duo with residencies in their hometown and in Ibiza. Having played alongside some of electronic music’s biggest names at clubs including Fabric, Cocoon and Space, DT caught up with the boys ahead of a busy 2013. They will be warming up for Guido Schneider and Sebastian Radlmeier at the Dented Melons night in Shoreditch in February; we got to put the boys through their paces to find out what’s got them to where they are today and what more we can expect from them.
How did you guys start out together back in 2000? Had you been friends for a while prior to that?Kaleb – It started out for us with me teaching Nic the basics of DJing. After a year or so we became residents at a club called Suga Suga in Soho, London. We had been friends since school but started DJing together seriously after securing that 1st residency.
Nic – When I started buying music, the garage scene was coming to an end and a lot of the stuff I would play was quite soulful, although I would also buy a lot of tribal and electro stuff that I would not really get the chance to play out.
It is usually a slow path to success in the music industry, can you describe what’s been integral to you achieving success and getting where you wanted to be?Nic – I think for us, the most important thing has been self-belief. As you said, its a long slow path to success, one which we are very much still climbing, and there are a lot of times when things aren’t going so well and you feel like giving up, but having that belief in yourself and what you are doing keeps you going and constantly striving for more.
You regularly appear at the Zoo Project nights at Gala Night on the Island and amongst the Dented Melons nights in London but I understand DC-10 has had a huge impact upon yourselves. Can you tell us a little about what you think is so special about that institution?
Kaleb – For Nic and I everything changed when we decide to go to Ibiza and DC-10 was the first party that we went to. The music was fresh and the vibe was unlike anything we had experienced before!!! It was like a breath of fresh air!! We were hearing a lot more minimal and electronic stuff which is what we were buying at the time, from labels like Pokerflat and Systematic, but not really getting the chance to play in London.
Nic – Everything about the place makes it special. The people, the music, the atmosphere, and when that all comes together you get one hell of a party. I get the feeling that DJs always try to raise their game when playing there.
You’re playing the Dented Melons party on the 9th Feb with Guido Schneider and Sebastian Radlmeier!! How does it feel when you play a night with such huge names appearing on the bill? Do you get nervous?!
Nic – It’s a great honor to have played alongside some of the massive names that we have along the way. Meeting some of the DJs that we have looked up to for years is always very special and I still get star struck!!!
We are very excited to be playing alongside Guido Schneider at Dented Melons. He has been one of our favourite DJ/producers for a long time, so its a particularly special gig for us!!! To be honest, I always get a little nervous before we play, wherever it is and whoever with. Its something that I try to channel in a positive way, and by the time I play my 1st record all nerves usually disappear.
Will you guys be playing back to back with LoPe at the Dented Melons party? Any particularly memorable back-to-back sets that you’ve played?Kaleb – Yes we will be playing back to back with LoPe on the night, which is something that we are really looking forward to as it does not happen very often. As there are 2 of us we usually always play as a duo only, but it will be interesting to have someone else adding their flavor to the mix.
Do you have a running commentary of how you see the night panning out, saying to yourselves “we’ll play it deep and groovy, lay the foundations for Sebastian and Guido to crank it up a bit and go harder/techier or whatever”?Nic – Usually if we are playing a warm up set we would try and start with a bit more of a mellow vibe, but that all depends on the crowd who we are playing before and what time we are playing. I think its important to be quite versatile when playing warm ups and to be able to read the crowd and the venue.
I know lots of DJs will say they don’t prepare, perhaps being later on a bill gives you an opportunity to judge the crowd and what they’re responding to and then you can build on that. If you’re on earlier do you put some preparation in? How do you guys prepare for a party?Nic – The only real preparation that I do before playing an early set would be sorting through some records and bringing an extra bag of vinyl so that I’m pretty much covered to take the music in any direction needed. We normally try and get together at least once a week for a mix, so that we can get to know each other’s music, which is all the preparation we need. Having played together for so long we seem to have built up a connection that works 99% of the time when we hit the decks
Who have you played with at a party and just been blown away by? And what was it about them? Their energy, track selection etc?Kaleb – There are a few DJs that have blown us away recently. The first would be Martin Landsky at the last Dented Melons party. For me, musically spot on and he has an infectious energy that translates to the crowd, which is very important in my eyes.
A few years back we played with Mathais Kaden in Liverpool for mUmU, and in much the same way he absolutely smashed it!! You wont see another DJ play with the intensity of that man.
X-press2 in the seal pit at The Zoo Project last summer was also very impressive. I watched them for over an hour mixing on 4 decks without speaking to each other!!!! I have never seen anything like it.
Nic, you have stuck to vinyl, whereas Kaleb is a digital kinda guy. How does that work exactly and what is about the two formats that make you both want to stick to your guns?Nic – Aside from the obvious advantage in sound quality, vinyl is important to me because I like to have something physical to touch, hold and look at. The idea of looking through a list of names on a screen or in a wallet just doesn’t work for me. In fact, I don’t know the names of half of my records!!! I like the aspect of flicking through the sleeves in my box, maybe its habitual??
Another advantage of playing vinyl is that a lot of music is released that bit earlier than digital, although recently I have been playing some CDs of friends’ unreleased tracks and music that I cannot get on vinyl.
Kaleb – I started off playing vinyl but moved to digital about 5 years ago, although I still play my old vinyl regularly. I wanted to broaden my horizons musically, but a big factor in going digital was that I didn’t want to be buying the same music as Nic. It’s nice to be able to have the volume of music that you can digitally whilst I watch Nic struggling with a huge bag of vinyl!!! ha.
How do you both organise a set to accommodate input from you both?Nic – We always play back 2 back and find that the best way to keep one another fully involved is to play two tracks each, although this is not set in stone. Sometimes to keep the vibe, one of us will play 3 or 4 tracks, or we might go 1 each. Whatever feels right at the time.
What elements form the basis to your sets and are those the same for your productions?Kaleb- The most important element in both our sets and or production is the groove……it’s all about the groove!!! We like our beats quite chunky and bouncy and we like to play/produce music that makes you shake your hips.
Going into 2013 where will your focus lay? Are you planning on working hard in the studio more so?Nic – In 2013 we will be focusing a lot more of our time in the studio working on new material and finishing some of the many unfinished tracks that we have sitting around!!
You have released music under the guise of “Kameleon” which you work on as a 4, with Simon ‘vicious circle’ Vice and Jamie Funk. How did that come about? And what are the advantages of working with these chaps?Kaleb – We are yet to release as Nic & Kaleb, as we have been focusing on our Kameleon project. Kameleon came about as the result of the last 3-4 years spent working in the studio with Jamie Funk and Simon Vice. We have all been good friends for a long time and share a common love of house music but have all taken quite different musical paths. It’s great making music as a foursome because each of us brings a unique flavour to the table, which might otherwise be lacking. Although we all have varied tastes in music we seem to combine these well and most importantly, we get on well with each other and have a good craic whilst working!
Will you be releasing more as a foursome or as a twosome?Nic – At the moment we have lots more Kameleon material in the pipeline, but we will also be focusing on getting some Nic & Kaleb stuff out.
So, ‘Fuel to the fire’, out as part of Hot Waves Volume 4 on Hot Creations. Pretty big deal, you guys must be ecstatic. Is this the kind of label that exemplifies, in your opinion, the kind of music that you want to be producing and playing?Nic – Yes, we are very happy about ‘Fuel to the fire’ being released on Hot Creations as part of the Hot Waves 4 compilation. Jamie and Lee have been doing great things with the label recently and have really pushed it to the forefront, so for us it’s a great honour to be able to be a part of that.
What else is in the pipeline production-wise for 2013? Have you any more releases lined up? What kind of mood can we expect from them?Kaleb – In 2013 you can expect to see further releases from us on 1trax and also the Zoo Project’s label Channel Zoo, and hopefully more on Hot Creations. No plans for an album just yet, but watch this space!!!
And, other than the Dented Melons night next month, what are you really excited about on the DJing front?Nic – We have just been booked in London to play alongside San Proper which we are really looking forward to. We played with him at the Zoo last summer and his passion, energy, personality, and musicality really stand out for me. Also returning to our residency at the Zoo Project always gets the juices flowing!!!!
Thanks very much for your time gents. All the best for the coming year!
Nic & Kaleb play back to back with LoPe at the Victorian Vaults in Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch on the 9th February 2013. Guido Schneider and Sebastian Radlmeier headline the night. For more info check out their facebook page: