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Klever - Cuts Like A Knife

Author: Luke No-Alias
Wednesday, 16 April 2008

3D’s Luke No-Alias lives his boyhood dream of interviewing Klever – aDJ originally known for his hip hop turntabling and now making a namefor himself as an electro producer/DJ.
Firstly I want to ask you about the battling. It’s changed a lot since you were competing. Do you still keep up with it at all-
You know, I really don’t. I’m a tunnel vision kinda guy. Once I get wrapped up in something I’ll really, really give it my all; I’ll focus on it, study it and for the many years I was a part of it. That’s all it was. But now I don’t, it’s sad to say.

I know some of the boys, for example I know the DMC World Champion and I’ve personally known him for years and I’m blessed that he made it.

I do know in a nutshell what’s going on now. You know, pattern-wise, kids getting their own records made and getting scratch sentences from the dude in France [Le Jad]. I’m more focussed on partying, making people have a good time getting people dancing, production and all that good, fun shit.

Well that’s the way it seems. Is it safe to say most of your skills are getting poured into your club sets and production-
Well in a sense, yes. That’s the thing people tell me. They’re like “Man, your technical way of mixing and your technical way of DJing is really impressive and influential”. You know, I can’t appreciate that enough. That means the world to me. I guess there’s not that many people out there that have that control and kind of get away with being accepted with dance music and being able to – when I say this I say this lightly – sprinkle a bit of where my background has brought me. Because now I don’t try to let my scratch patterns be the focus or the highlight of the night. I just don’t do that anymore. I still perform, I still give it my all, but I don’t fucking cut up all night. I don’t let that shine. My focus is women having a great time, dudes having a great time, the bar making money, everybody getting hot and sweaty and fucking leaving the place in a mess. I do incorporate it, but subconsciously.

Just on that note of everybody going crazy, you’ve played to some rowdy crowds in pretty confined spaces. Do you have any stories of any crazy shit that’s happened-
Um, well yeah. People getting hurt... stabbings. Not because of me! But because they’re getting a little too nuts. It’s happened when I’ve been playing. Kids are kids. If they’ve had a little bit too much and they have a blade on ’em, a knife or a gun, shit’s gonna get fucking stupid. But I’ll speak on my behalf. Last year at Lollapalooza, Craze and I we did a set together. A friend of mine – Hollywood Hulk – went to stage dive before the two of us. It was rammed, it was an outdoor event, and everybody was going fucking nuts and my boy Hollywood Hulk – he’s a little fucker, a little muscular dude – jumped out and was floating like a sailboat over people’s arms and shit.

Craze and I must have downed, like, three big boy Budweisers before we went out ’cause we were kinda bored and watching the talent before us so we hooked up our equipment and were about and hour or something into our set and Hollywood Hulk jumps off and I was like “Oh! Fuck that. I gotta get a piece of that.” I didn’t even let the crowd gather up. He was still floating around and they weren’t even looking at us so I fucking throw up my arms like a Babe Ruth homerun hitter and I run out to the crowd and dude, I fucking jump and all I remember is hitting heads, shoulders, kneecaps and concrete bro! I smashed the ground, got up, run back up to the stage and did it all over again and people went nuts.

As that story attests, I see you now as a kind of no-holds-barred anything goes kind of DJ and I guess as a person too. Is this accurate- Was it always like this- Or were there stages of your career that got you to this point-
I’ve always been a shy person growing up. I’ve always been reserved in a sense because I was that kid. I’ve come to realise that I’m living my life backwards. Not that there’s one right way to live your life but naturally, over the past few years I’ve come out of my shell a lot by expressing myself with my individual style and just not giving a fuck what people think anymore. I mean I do in a sense, but largely I don’t. I believe that furthered me towards where I’m at right now. And people kind of gravitate towards that kind of confidence. It’s not arrogance it’s just having confidence within yourself. I’ve also become in tune with myself and knowing who I am. Now I’m doing things and experiencing things that I’ve never thought I’d be doing because of letting go and not caring. We still care but we don’t care what the masses think. Yes, I’ve grown into myself and I’m still growing musically and with style. I’m having fun, actually. It’s a blast.

Absolutely. With your young family, your style, your clothes, tattoos, that sort of thing and with clubs and crowds everywhere wanting you. You must be the happiest guy on Earth-
I’d have to say I’m one of them. I’ll never forget the days when I was really struggling to be where I’m at right now. But this now was always a vision of mine. I always envisaged playing to big crowds that are going off, having a certain amount of attention, and being accepted by people. It’s taken awhile. I mean it’s happened in the past with the turntable shit but that’s such a nerdy way. It’s not like “fuck everything and rebel, let’s have a great time”. It’s definitely been a blessing over the last couple of years but it’s still not over. I’m now more focussing on my production, I don’t want to be the DJ guy forever. You know it’s only going to go so far. I’m working on my EP right now so I’m hoping to make some noise in the production community and get some respect from the guys I look up to now.

For sure. Well it’s definitely sounding good. But I’m keen to know who the artists are on your laptop that you think will go the distance- I saw a video last night of you and the Cool Kids hanging out. Are there any artists like those guys who are getting you hyped-
The Cool kids are my boys right there. They really were trying to get me to go on the road with them but I also have to understand I need to be my own artist. The hip hop thing is great but my heart and my passion right now is not hip hop. I mean I love it. I’m a hip hop punk kid till the day I die but my focus now is dance music. The people I’d like to impress are people like MSTRKRFT, SebastiAn and Kavinsky, Boys Noize, more respect from A-Trak – he gives me tough love but he’s my buddy – he’s not going to kill me, LA Riots, The Presets, even Armand Van Helden, Bag Raiders have love for me, they’ve been sending me tunes. Crookers, Riot in Belgium, Toxic just doesn’t stop.

It doesn’t and this is the aspect of your career that spins me out. Watching you around 2000/2001 competing in DJ battles was really interesting for me but nowadays your viewers and listeners are coming through completely different channels. The transition you’ve made seems so flawless. Have you noticed though, any music styles coming through that could be big down the track-
There’s a style out in the UK called Bassline. Which is a mix of garage, dubstep and hip hop. It’s just hard driven, bassliney shit. Dubstep is just taking off here, and it’s really big in Europe.

That’s really about it though. What’s going on now, it’s not going to last forever but it’s cool. It’s really a melting pot of everything; house, punk, disco, electro, Baltimore. It seems like it’s going to last for at least a little while longer because there’s so many styles. I’m just hoping this fun time isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

WHO: Klever
WHAT: Plays Oxford Art Factory
WHEN: Thursday 24 April