Kieron Ifill balances his time between working at a pupil referral unit in North-London whilst constantly sculpting his own brand of music, but the hard work doesn’t seem to faze him. With a monthly residency at Camden’s Jazz Cafe, he also has numerous releases on WotNot and Dutch label, INI.
His production skills caught the attention of world-famous US producer, Kyle Hall, who was eager to spread his soulful sounds. Kyle did that with a 12” release on his Detroit-based label, Wild Oats. The record was an instant hit, which lead to a drastic change to Ifill’s life as he started to fly more frequently playing DJ hotspots such as Berlin. In light of the re-press last month, we reviewed that flawless 12″ ‘Insecurities’ (EP). This month, our writer Freddy caught up with him to ask the man behind the music a few questions. Enter K15…
It must really feel like things are starting to come together for you now – was there a defining moment in your life when you knew music was the way forward?
I don’t think there was a defining moment if I’m honest. Music; be it making, listening, sharing, is something I have done for as long as I can remember, so it’s just what I do. I come home from work and I sit and make or listen to music.
Most people would typically have a bar job or something like that. Tell us more about your choice to work in education and the difficulty of balancing two jobs?
I’ve worked in education for a long time, nearly as long as I have been making music. I always wanted to be a teacher, since I was a teenager – that was what I was working towards. Music was never at the forefront – it still isn’t, it was always something I did for me, never a way to one day escape my job or make millions. It’s slightly more difficult to balance now because I’m away DJing but it’s not impossible.
Mixmag recently published an article around sexual harassment in nightclubs. To quote: ‘While the music moves forwards, attitudes toward women in the rave remain archaic’ – do you agree? Why do you think the problem persists and what is the solution in your eyes?
Those problems seem like cultural/societal ones. People are people but in a club setting, a few more variables are thrown into the mix, so certain behaviours/mind-sets are magnified. Solutions? I don’t know but maybe we need to look at the idea of respect and what it is we are truly chasing when we behave this way and why.
Which has been your favourite place to DJ thus far?
It’s a tie between Amsterdam (Canvasopde7e below) and Rotterdam. They both had amazing vibes and a very open-minded audience.
I saw that you did a set at Sounds of The Universe in Soho on Record Store Day. How was that and what do you think to the increasing popularity in vinyl?
That was fun. The shop was packed beyond belief but it was generally a lovely day. I think vinyl has always been popular with people who love it – maybe everything has come full circle, maybe people are seeing the value in tangible things, maybe people love the novelty of vinyl.
Your upcoming release, ‘The Scarlet Tape’ is due to be released on WotNot Music on May 15th digitally and a limited amount of copies on cassette. What format do you prefer to listen to music on?
I listen to records at home and digital music when I’m on the move. Why records? I do love the sound and feel but I really love just looking at artwork and finding random things in record sleeves. Why digital? It’s the most convenient and it allows me to listen to different types of music. A lot of new music is purely in digital format, so being able to listen while on the move allows me to take some of that in.
‘Scarlet’ is the second instalment of the ‘Colour’ series – what do you hope to achieve with this project and how will ‘The Scarlet Tape’ differ to the ‘The Black Tape’?
‘The Black Tape’ scores a particular part of my life. ‘Scarlet Tape’ is about another journey.
The lead track from ‘The Scarlet Tape’ samples Slum Village. For someone just discovering the deeper realms of hip-hop, which artist would you recommend to listen to first and why?
I recommend everyone listen to Jehst! He is one of the greatest emcees in my eyes.
The Slum Village sample over the synth you use sounds really nice! Tell us more about your own production process and what instruments/tools you like to use?
I use machines. Of all kinds. The process? It all starts with inspiration; that can come from a record, a sample, a drum loop, then I just try to mess with it until it sounds/feels listenable. Then comes the editing phase – that can go on for ages.
Roland will be releasing a new product soon; do you keep up to date with new production tools and techniques?
Nah not really. I’ve gotten comfortable with what I use which is great because I can sketch things out in ways that are familiar but it’s also limiting because it can become mechanical, which is not how anything should be approached.
So, it promises to be an exciting summer for K15 – we’d love to know more about your future plans, upcoming releases etc. what can you whet our appetite with?
‘Scarlet Tape’ in May. After that? Who knows.
Finally, our readers would love to know what tracks you would pick as your Nextup (forthcoming or recent – to look out for) and your Throwback (forgotten treasures/influential)?
Look out for ‘Rough Sketches’ by Warren Xclnce. Forgotten treasures? Hmmmm, I would recommend listening to ‘The Number 23’ by Cas.