Interview By Fergus Sweetland
They say you should never meet your idol. I say they’re wrong. I was given the chance to interview my favourite producer, the Bulgarian maestro KiNK.
I’ve been following Strahil Velchev’s music for a little while now. My friend suggested I check out a set by him that has been filmed at Tomorrowland a few years back, and I was instantly hooked. Following this video, I watched his London Boiler Room set which knocked me down like the force of fright train. One track he included in that live set was “Express”, a B-side from his 2012 Hand Made EP.
This track is quite possibly my favourite song ever and has really influenced my music since hearing it. It opened a new world of house music to me and encouraged me to become more experimental with productions.
When I found out KiNK was playing at the 2013 Strawberry Fields, I knew I had to make the journey to the wild lands of Tocumwal to see this man grace the crowd with one of the worlds best live sets. Words don’t do this mans performance justice, it was just that good.
A year later, I was told that I had the opportunity to meet and talk to the man I idolise. Holy shit.
One thing I learnt from talking to Strahil is that he has a strong philosophy about music. I wanted to ask him things relevant to the younger producer and learn about his past.
Stratal grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, where you can imagine that it was hard for someone to get into techno music. “The life at that time was okay in Bulgaria, we where not struggling for food or whatever, but because of the big difference of life standard between the western world an Bulgaria, things that were imported from the west where ridiculously expensive”.
One record would cost as much as a quarter of Strahil’s mothers salary at the time. This is why he didn’t start DJ’ing until after the ninteis, its was just not financial viable. Radio was the only place that he could hear dance music, that said it was commercial music, or as he put “the EDM version of that era”. Very quickly, he started learning what is real house and techno music.
In 1993, Bulgarian radio started broadcasting more underground dance music, much to the joy of Strahil. The only thing that he could buy was compilation cassettes. “…I was very limited, but I don’t think about it with a bad feeling. I was so excited, you can’t imagine. They would release probably 4 or 5 compilations with that kind of music in a year.” He would have to wait 2 or 3 months at a time for new mixtape’s to come out to quench his thirst for beats. “I was listening to the tracks so so much, and I would really appreciate that music…”.
He decided that he would take elements from the compilations cassettes that he really liked, record them onto a blank cassettes and make his own edits. It wasn’t a new track, but “it was something new”. This is where his journey took the first step to becoming a production mastermind. Eventually, he begun to acquire hardware and use friends equipment to start making full compositions.
It took time for his productions to reach the rest of the world. When the new millennium came around, KiNK had been hard at work crafting tracks to send out to record labels. He sent a CD to around 30 different labels in 2002, but not one got back to him. This didn’t deter him though. His outlook on the situation was positive, so he kept working on his productions for years until he felt the time was right to try again and send his tracks back out to labels.
Over time with each release, he would gain more and more of a following. In 2010, KiNK put out the Rachel EP which was arguable one of, if not most successful release. This EP included the incredible track “Existence”. This goes to show that persistence and hard work is what it takes to make it. No one goes from zero to MainStage seemingly overnight.
“I’ve always been following my heart, and the music I did and released five, six seven years ago, I still like, to me it still sounds fresh so…I think on the longer run, I think its not bad that my career developed slowly”.
He takes things in a positive away, seeing things for what they are and appreciates what a lot of us take for granted. “I’m really happy with the time that I live in. I use all the possibilities”. “I don’t feel nostalgic about the old times, its just now its differentness. Im really happy we living in the future. Now we living in the future. The technology is so developed, I’ve been dreaming for what I have now.”
The internet helped him discover new platforms for making music and pushed him to find a away that suited him most. “I would never want to go back…”.
“Our main opportunity right now is the internet. You can do everything on there.” His words for the new generation of producers is simply. “To be original”. “…Its kind of easy to make music these days, there is so much information these days, so point zero is to become great producers and great DJ’s or a great live act. Thats something you defiantly have to do of course. Your music has to be original. your performance has to be original. I can assure anyone, record labels look for original music, and promoters look for really good DJs and reliable live acts”. “…you have to deliver something good, and then of course you need to use the social media, be open minded, learn how to talk to people”.
“I think its something valid, not only for electronic music, not only for now but, people want to see a personality, so you have to find what kind personality you are. If you a party guy, don’t hesitate to show that. If your a party guy, be a party guy and people that you’re a party guy, people will love you for that. I think my personality is that I’m a geek, I love to play with equipment. I love to play with equipment. Thats me and I show that, and I think people like me because of that, so you have to find yourself…”.
After talking to KiNK, I feel a strong sense of enlightenment about producing and how I sit in the mix of Australian music. I think that his words of advice are perfect for any producer to think about and reflect onto themselves and their music.