Large Music's Boss Jeff Craven Talks House Music w/ Kiko Navarro & DJ Fudge
Large Music head honcho Jeff Craven sits down with Kiko Navarro and DJ Fudge to chat about their brilliant new release “2 Days 2 Tracks” out now on Traxsource.
1) JEFF: Kiko and Fudge, it is an absolute honor to have both of you on the label with your debut release ’2 Days 2 Tracks EP’ and welcome to the family. Can you tell me a little history on how long you have known each other and when you first worked together?
KIKO: Thanks Jeff! The pleasure is ours. We met for the first time in Miami WMC 2003 during Soulfuric Party, that venue had a patio/outside area and I was there when Fudge and his Troublemen partner Bruno approached to meet me, from the first second I thought they were so friendly and we exchanged some vinyl. Since that moment, we kept in touch, sending each other vinyl. He moved to Barcelona and I booked him a few times to play with me at Pacha Mallorca and got him playing at other venues as well. On one of his visits to Mallorca we decided to start a track, and we worked in my studio on ‘Maximal’. It was the time when all the hipsters and those who follow the trend were playing minimal which we didn’t like and just to do the opposite we called it ‘Maximal’. It was a tribute to the old school house with a touch of upgraded and improved sounds.
FUDGE: All the honor is for us! I’m very proud and excited to be a part of the Large Music family, I’ve been a big fan of the label since the first release. Over the many years Kiko and I have become really good friends, we have a special connection involving music and friendship and a lot of respect for each other.
2) JEFF: Fudge, I know you have recently relocated to Hong Kong. How long have you lived there and what makes this city so compelling to you as an artist?
FUDGE: Yes after Barcelona (where I lived for almost 7 years), my endless desire of traveling brought me to Hong Kong where I’ve lived now for 3 years. It’s a 24 hour a day city, full of energy that never stops. The house music scene is strong here and we have many promoters and parties bringing in producers and DJ’s every week. Hong Kong has made the difference for me as an artist because I play here 5 or 6 times a week sometimes 2 gigs in a night!
3) JEFF: Kiko, do you have any plans to relocate to another city or will Mallorca always be your home base?
KIKO: I love Mallorca, I was born here and I want to enjoy all my life here. At the moment I haven’t found a better place to grow up and raise a family with 2 kids. Actually we were selected by a famous UK newspaper as the best place for living in the world, so it must be for a reason!
4) JEFF: I remember you guys telling me that the reason you titled your EP on Large “2 Days 2 Tracks” is because you worked on “Anything You Want” and “Limbo” in two days together in Hong Kong. Can you tell us a little bit about that process and how the two tracks came together? Did you start from scratch on each one or did you have a musical idea already in mind?
KIKO: I remember perfectly those days from last year. I was in my hotel room on Sunday night in Hong Kong after enjoying the afternoon with a friend at Disneyland Hong Kong (I love theme parks and roller coasters, and we went there). When in the room, Stephane played over the phone a very raw idea of “Anyway I Want”, basically beats, bass and synth, and I said Keep it! Save it! This is wicked! So by the following day in the morning I was in his studio working on this track. We developed the arrangement and looked for vocals to compliment the track and in the evening the track was finished.
FUDGE: Yes we definitely did the two tracks in two days! When we started the session, Kiko also had a melody in his mind, it was the bass of “Limbo”. He sang it to me, and I played it, then we recorded the vocal parts. We added an atmospheric touch to it, then we programmed the beat. We also played some chords, synth melody, and it was enough. The essence of the track should be instrumental and minimal.
5) JEFF: How much of your production gear is analog hardware? Do either of you work exclusively on a DAW? If so, which program do you prefer?
KIKO: During the last 4-5 years I have been buying analog gear. When I started producing, everything was based on plug-ins or live musicians. Since I have worked in other studios with analog synths, I started to buy them, some new, but mostly second hand in good condition. Now I can proudly say that most of the sounds you listen in my productions are analog running on Cubase 7.5!
FUDGE: Analog Gear is essential in the production chain for me, that’s what makes the difference, especially summing and mixing. Mixing in the box can be ok, but mixing a track on a console will give you another texture. To me using and mixing all techniques and sounds (digital or analog) is very important. Nowadays I use Ableton Live. I have worked with every software program since 1994 and even if I’m not a big fan of the sound engine of Ableton, it’s definitely for me the most creative, fastest and intuitive DAW.
6) JEFF: Is it possible now because of the latest technology for you to work as a team and not be in the same location?
KIKO: Yes that’s possible but I prefer to work with him in person. It’s a lot of fun and we know how to enjoy it to the maximum. Sometimes Stephane is working and I cook for us, I enjoy all the time we are together. But it has happened in the past if we couldn’t finish a track together we took the stems and then we worked at home, then send our work via the internet until we finish the track. This is how we worked on some mixes of our Yoruba Records release “Babalu Aye”.
FUDGE: I prefer to work in the same location, to share the musical experience, it’s like making babies! How can a couple have a baby with distance!? I consider all of my tracks as my children and I like to be here when they see the day or more exactly the night. That’s club music!
7) JEFF: You both have a long and successful career as DJs- Is DJ’ing your first love or is it production?
KIKO: I can’t live without any of them but if I have to choose only one I would say DJ’ing, that’s the real thing live! Even though I don’t play a musical instrument, it is when I’m in contact with people who want to listen to my music and my musical journey. I love to share emotions and feelings with the right crowd.
FUDGE: Actually I started producing before DJ’ing because I was too young to get into the clubs. I started playing music, playing around samplers and machines at the age of 15, then at 16 years old I started DJ’ing in block parties in the Paris suburbs, playing Funk and Disco classics. I released my first EP in 1994, and I got my first professional gig the same year. Honestly, for me making music and DJ’ing was and is always something related.
8) JEFF: Have you ever played a gig together? If not, is it something that could happen in the future?
KIKO: Well we played a couple of times in Mallorca together but I booked DJ Fudge as a DJ, never as a DJ Team so basically I was playing before or after him, but no, we have never played a gig together, and I would really like to sometime soon.
FUDGE: I will always remember one gig in Pacha Mallorca in 2007. We where playing in the main room-it was packed and the end of the night I remember Kiko and I finishing with Sandcastles from Dennis Ferrer and Jerome Sydenham. We worked a delay FX for two full minutes! People went mental on that night and they wouldn’t leave the dance floor.
9) JEFF: What other releases do you have coming in 2015?
KIKO: We just released together “We Are Back” on Guesthouse Music, “Babalu Aye” on Yoruba Records. On my solo productions, I released a “New Life” EP on Local Talk a few months ago, “Harmony” feat. Sheila Ford on Quantize Recordings, and just a few weeks ago the new mixes by Vince Watson of my track “Siempre” on Glasgow Underground. Next ones to come are “Isao” feat. Amor on Local Talk Records which includes mixes from José Marquez and DJ Fudge, my new remixes of “Siempre” on Glasgow Underground, 2 tracks on Exploited Records, plus a new one feat. Amor on Quantize recordings.
FUDGE: I produced a song with the legendary and talented singer Marie Tweek that I will release on my label Tejal records. I also have a compilation planned to be released next month on Reel People featuring all tracks from me. I have done a remix for Nami feat Josh Milan and it will come out via King Street very soon as well.
10) JEFF: Finally guys, If you could pick only one favorite track from the vast Large Music catalog spanning 22 years…what would it be?
KIKO: This is a very difficult question. You have so many good releases in the catalog just to pick one track. Ok, let me think…..ufff really I can tell you my favorites here and you pick one. Perhaps if you want I can do a compilation!
FUDGE: That is very difficult as I love so many releases. So many big names from the industry produced on Large Music. As I have to choose one, I will go for Roy Davis Jr feat Peven Everett “Gabrielle”, one of my classics of all time!