Krafty Kuts, born Martin Reeves, is a world-renowned turntablist in the DJ/breakbeat world. He’s been everything from a bingo caller to a dance event show-runner, a trifle tester to a record store owner. He’s been selling out stages and clubs for years with his signature mixing style, consistently and seamlessly fusing everything from jazz with dnb to funk with trap. His discography is so filled to the brim that it’s easy to get lost while perusing. As a key pioneer in the UK breakbeat and bass movement, he holds multiple awards in his name from Best DJ to Outstanding Contribution to Breakbeat at Breakspoll. Many DJs dream of reaching such heights, but few put in the time, work, and effort that Krafty has.
We are honored to bring his latest mix to NEST HQ. We talked to him about his pre-DJ days, how he manages to run successful club nights amidst all the hectic travel, and what artists can do to reach similar success. He even has his third studio album with Dynamite MC expected in May of this year, from which he’s released tracks “War Is Over” and “It Ain’t My Fault” so far. You can expect his signature all-over style in the mix, as well as a few turntable tricks peppered throughout.
Your bio says you were a “clown’s assistant, trifle tester, bingo caller, a machinist making fireplaces.” That’s a pretty hefty resume. Can you elaborate on those jobs?
Oh, good grief! I completely forgot about this crazy part of my life. I was young, vulnerable, and I had to take what was placed to me, to pay the bills and get my first set of turntables and a car. The clowns assistant job was actually my first ever job. At 14 I was at a famous racecourse in England called Ascot. In fact a famous jockey Lestor Piggot told me to “F**k Off” which was not very nice. The trifle tasting job was a bad move as I put on loads of weight. The bingo caller was a summer job when I was 15 on the south coast of England and was so much fun, it could have actually taken me in a different path to maybe becoming an MC but that is another story.
What do you have coming up in 2017? Lord knows your discog is already filled to the brim. WHAT MORE CAN YOU POSSIBLY DO?!
Well, each year I set myself new goals new ambitions and ideas that I feel I need to keep busy with. I have finished my LP with Dynamite MC and ready to roll with this, touring and maybe even do some full Live Krafty shows with a band at a few Festivals this Summer. I find that challenging myself keeps me focused and also grounded. I have to continue on with my Golden Era Podcasts, which have been extremely successful. I am also working on a top secret, once-in-a-lifetime project that I am so excited about. Obviously loads more traveling across the globe and maybe some new countries to visit which I still haven’t been to (i.e., Japan, Alaska, and India). I still have plenty of things I want to achieve and playing on a professional football pitch is one of them.
Any show/tour plans in the coming months? Do you prefer bigger crowds or more intimate settings?
There are loads of shows coming up this spring & summer. Some really cool Festivals in Taiwan, Thailand, Europe, Canada, Oz, Nz, USA, and plenty in the UK. I am currently on tour with Chali 2na (J5) doing live shows across the World, which has been awesome. Looking forward to touring with Dynamite MC who is just electric on the mic and our show is full of energy and bass heavy beats.
In regards to bigger crowds, it is always a massive thrill and a buzz to play to big crowds but sometimes some of the small intimate shows are memorable, like last year in Canada Calgary with Dynamite we played to 400 people and it was insane. Also, recently me & Chali played a show in New Zealand in a place called Wanaka; again about 400 and it was one of the loudest and wildest shows ever. At one point I couldn’t hear the tracks as the crowd was making so much noise!!!
What do you listen to in your free time? Any bands/artists/DJs we should check out that we wouldn’t expect?
I always check out new music and artists such as Dr. Fresch, Dubra, Chris Royal, Neon Steve, Flavours, Future Flex, Dunks, and Badjokes. They are just a small selection of amazing talents that are gonna have a big impact on the scene. Musically, I love funk, old school hip hop, and DJ mixes from DJ Yoda, Craze, Skratch Bastid, A.Skillz & Featurecast are always on full rotation on my travels. I get inspired from 70s jazz and funk and early electro, which gets my juices flowing for a studio onslaught.
You’re a certified legend in the DJ/electronic music world. What kind of progress have you seen the industry make since your time as a competition DJ?
Thanks, kind words!!!
The industry has moved so fast it’s incredible. New equipment has improved skills for DJs and live performances and really helped push dance music at the forefront, which is definitely a good thing; New DJ mixers, software for making music on your laptop; programs like Ableton are such an incredible tool to have for doing DJ mixes and producing music really quickly. It is such a fast moving business and with visuals also playing a big part in music times have changed for the better in my mind.
What does it still need to work on?
I think we are at a point where it really has moved too fast so really there are no improvements needed, [just] more time spent actually benefitting from what we have right now.
Krafty Kuts with Chali 2na
What advice do you have for musicians looking to start their own events? What have you learned from running your own breakdancing events?
I have been running club nights on and off for 15 years so it is really important to make sure you don’t spend over your budget. Always look to have something different from what everyone else is doing so your events don’t look like what everyone else is doing. Make sure your flyers, artwork is on point and looks the part. Try putting line ups that encompass various styles and genres of music, that way you can pull in people from other genres & styles of music. Choose good locations that have a good caption area. Work hard on your social media skills to make sure that every single person knows you have something special about to happen. Try putting some clever ideas with maybe a smaller second room where you can give all the local up & coming DJs a chance to shine.
Is there a certain hurdle successful musicians must get over before they start being successful with their craft, or is the life of a DJ a constant uphill battle?
There are always hurdles; like running out of money, cancellations, weather, bad set times, tiredness, staying healthy and all of these things can be overcome. Staying focused, being positive, and continually remaining at the top of your game is what counts the most.
Every year, a new article emerges about the resurgence of vinyl and vinyl production. Can or will it ever be saved and revived or is it all just hype?
It is definitely more popular than ever and more DJs are playing 7” and still collecting records. It’s great that vinyl is still popular and that there are new records and even old rereleases with limited edition coloured vinyls coming out (which is cool for collectors). How long I don’t know but I still have a big collection, which I am very proud to own. Vinyl is heavy and takes up lots of room but still it looks great and sounds wicked.
What can we expect from your MiniMix with us?
Basically I have tried to put everything that is Krafty in the mix. Hip hop, rock, funk, breaks, bass, trap, house, and all things funky are in abundance. I always try to make every single DJ mix different from the last. Never the same and push music forward but still have some classic material thrown in for good measure. NEST HQ have showcased some of the best DJs from around the world so I am privileged to be amongst these artists. It is important for me to deliver a mix that would showcase what Krafty Kuts is all about.
My final, and arguably most important question: Will drum ‘n’ bass finally get the recognition it deserves in 2017?
Drum and bass is bigger and more popular in the UK & Europe than it has ever been. The scene just keeps developing new artists and old artists are still smashing it (i.e., Andy C, Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Prototypes, Erb N Dub, Noisia, Netsky, Friction, Calyx & Teebee, Dimension, Break, the list is endless). I think it gets massive props in Europe but never really as much recognition in places like Asia, Australia & the USA, but I think it’s definitely getting the full recognition it deserves now.
Krafty Kuts MiniMix Tracklist
01. Adam F – Stand Clear (Instrumental)
02. Krafty Kuts – Who’s The DJ
03. Krafty Kuts Ft. Chali 2Na – It Ain’t My Fault
>>. Method Man & Redman – Tear It Off (Acapella)
04. Monophonics – Foolish Love (Wick-It Remix)
05. Grid Division – Get Up
06. Defunk – Fire In Her Eyes (Featurecast Remix)
07. Dr. Fresch – Gangster Gangster
08. Dr. Fresch – Hello
09. Destructo Ft. Ty Dolla $ign & ILOVEMAKONNEN – 4 Real (Chris Lorenzo Remix)
10. Dr Kucho! & Gregor Salto Ft. Ane Brun – Can’t Stop Playing (Ark Edit)
11. Obscene Frequenzy – Rolling
>>. John B – Up All Night (Jack Beats Remix)
12. Big Daddy’s – Booty Sweat (KMFX Flip)
13. A Skillz – We Got Fun
14. Krafty Kuts Ft. Dynamite MC – Rollercoaster
15. Sub Focus – Love Divine
16. Feed Me – Stay Focused
17. BADJOKES – Bootyground
18. Rae Sremmurd Ft. Gucci Mane – Black Beatles (KMFX Flip)
19. Bromley Ft. Grove & Dread MC – Burn Down (Archive Remix)
20. Fox – Big Man Ting
21. Ahee – Bali Breaks
22. My Nu Leng & Kry Wolf Ft. Kiko Bun – What You Feel
>>. Eric B & Rakim – Don’t Sweat The Technique (Acapella)
23. Krafty Kuts – Party People
24. Stanton Warriors – Feel This Way (Instrumental)
>>. Jungle Brothers – Beyond This World (Acapella)
25. Dead Prez – Hip Hop
>>. Damian Marley Welcome To Jamrock
>>. Yogi Ft. Pusha T – Burial (Acapella)
26. DJ Shadow – Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt (Bondax & Karma Kid Remix)
27. Krafty Kuts Ft. Orifice Vulgatron & Dynamite MC – Boom Bangin’