ART:CAST #59 & INTERVIEW Kev Sheridan

Having released two EPs on maeve, the Irish quality label founded by The Drifter, Mano Le Tough and Baikal, Berliner-by-choice Kev Sheridan will release his third strike shortly. ‘Before the Flood’, a proper House-tune foucssing entirely on vocals, is already a mainstay and highlight in many DJs’ sets and spinned by the keinemusik-crew and Innervisions label-head-honchos. Before its release Torture the Artist seized the chance to speak to Kev about being ‘Alone in Berlin’ and his club-experiences in the German capital, how he got infected or rather addicted to music, what he has in common with Mano and The Drifter and Kevin also mixed the latest episode of the art:cast series, of course including upcoming music from the artist.

Torture the Artist: Hello Kev, how is your day? Where are you at the moment? What time did you wake up this morning and what is the first thing slated on your calendar?

Kev Sheridan: My day is going well thanks. I’m currently sitting on the roof of my apartment in Berlin. I got up at around ninethis morning and the first thing to do was this interview. <smiles>

Torture the Artist: We read that you’re an Irish native, currently living in Berlin. When did you leave Ireland and what inspired you to make this move? How much different and alike are your hometown and Berlin?

Kev Sheridan: I left Ireland in June 2015 in order to delve further into the electronic music scene, and of course Berlin was an obvious choice. Also, I had a number of friends here who were doing the same thing and were convincing me it was a good idea. Berlin is extremely different to my hometown as you can imagine.

Being totally immersed in the electronic landscape in Berlin really helped to focus.

Torture the Artist: What do you miss most from home? And which element of Berlin do you feel was most necessary in taking your musical career further?

Kev Sheridan: I really miss the sea. A lot. And of course my family and friends, but I get home quite often as it’s not too far. I think being totally immersed in the electronic landscape in Berlin really helped to focus and was also great inspiration in general.

Torture the Artist: How did you discover your passion for music? When was the first time you let go of something important to you, to pursue this path?

Kev Sheridan: I’ve definitely always had a passion for music. I started playing instuments at seven, but can remember even at a younger age getting super excited by music. Making the move to Berlin to do this definitely meant leaving a lot of things behind, so then I suppose. But I’ve always been following the path of music in one way or another throughout my life, so many decisions have been made to pursue those paths.

I started listening to it and became completely addicted.

Torture the Artist: Who were among your greatest musical influences? Growing up, what music did you listen to? Which artists had the most impact on your development as an artist?

Kev Sheridan: There are a lot! I have threeolder brothers so I was always surrounded by music from them – bands like The Cure, The Police, Nirvana, Guns n’Roses, Blur, U2, etc. My oldest brother is big into jazz so he would play a lot of that to me. So between that and lots of classical music from my mother, it ensured a very balanced diet! <smiles>Then at the age of 7, a CD of Experience, The Prodigy’s first album, was left in my house after a party so I started listening to it and became completely addicted. All of the layered rhythms just blew my mind, so that definitely had a huge impact on my musical brain. It basically taught me rhythm, and ignited a love of electronic music, although I still listen to everything.

Kev Piano
Picture by Karina Pysz

Torture the Artist: You’ve composed a track, ‘Alone in Berlin’ as part of your previous release on the Berlin based label, Maeve last year. Did you spend a lot of the production time, ‘alone in Berlin’ or was this a state of mind from which the EP is drawn.

Kev Sheridan: Yes, it was made on a very cold, solitary night in Berlin in 2014 when visiting for a few weeks (before moving here). The track completely captured my mood at the time.

Torture the Artist: If you were to make a track named ‘Alone in (your hometown) would you change the key note and BPM or would it hover around the same range?

Kev Sheridan: I’m really not sure about the BPM, but there’d probably be lots of sounds from the sea included <smiles>

Torture the Artist: For sure your move to Berlin cannot be described in one pace, tone or emotion. So let’s make a 5 track playlist which best resounds your first few months in your new city.

Kev Sheridan: The first summer I was here I remember Acamar‘ by Frankey & Sandrino and XTC‘ from DJ Koze were just out so I was constantly hearing them when I was out experiencing my first open airs here, so they have to be in there. For another 3, let’s go with:

Torture the Artist: How long did it take to ‘feel at home’. Was there ever a time when you felt like giving up and starting over. How did you pull yourself out of these hiccups?

Kev Sheridan: I thought I felt settled in until, at around ththreeyear mark, I really started to feel at home. Only then did I realise that I wasn’t actually fully settled before that. No, it never got so bad that I wanted to give up thankfully. <smiles>

Torture the Artist: Do you go to clubs often? Tell us about some of your favorite hangout spots in Berlin?

Kev Sheridan: The clubs here are obviously amazing and I really love going to a good party. Berghain is definitely a favourite but I also enjoy ELSE in the summer. Heideglühen is super nice too.

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Picture by Nino Vincenzo Valpiani (www.ninovalpiani.com)

Torture the Artist: Maeve is no easy feat. The underground electronic music pacesetter co-owned by a reputable trio of DJ/producers, has an impressive roster of artists and ingenious releases. How did you end up within Mano le Tough’s, the Drifter’s and Baikal’s radar? Did you always imagine yourself contributing towards the label’s distinctive style and sound?

Kev Sheridan: I’ve been friends with Mano and Drifter for a long time as we went to college together. Then I met Baikal when I moved here. They’ve always been very supportive of my music so have been really great mentors along the way. It was always a dream of mine to release on maeve.

The Flood refers to the current world climate situation.

Torture the Artist: You got a new EP coming on maeve soon, including ‘Before the Flood’, what flood do you expect? And when did you come up with the idea of producing a quite housey track in the first place?

Kev Sheridan: Yes, it’s actually a single release, which will soon be available digitally through maeve. The track came about when I recently opened up an old (finished but abandoned) project from a few years back. There were about 30 tracks, so I muted all of them apart from the drums and the sub bass, and realised that the actual track was there hiding under many layers. I tuned some of the drums a bit differently and then added the acappella vocal later. The Flood refers to the current world climate situation as I had just watched the documentary ‘Before the Flood’ while working on the track.

Torture the Artist: Where were you when you first heard a track of yours being played on the loudspeakers. Who was playing? What was your initial reaction?

Kev Sheridan: It was in Panorama Bar when The Drifter was playing. I was completely over the moon to hear something being played out, especially there, but I could also hear that I had a lot more work to do, sound wise, etc.

Torture the Artist: You’ve spent some time in the studio, and yielded some strong results. Do you plan to put more time and effort into producing music or will we be seeing more of you playing sets all across the globe?

Kev Sheridan: I want to do both for sure. I’ve started to do a live set again after many years break, so that’s an exciting development also.

Torture the Artist: Describe one or some of the best sets you’ve played in your career. Where was the venue and how was the vibe? Do you often feel inspired to make music after being on the road?

Kev Sheridan: I think it was a DJ gig I did in Berlin about two months ago. I played for three hours and the vibe was super good from start to finish. Also, that live set I did at the start of March took months of constant work so was very satisfying in the end. And the support I received for that one was really lovely, so that added to the whole experience.

Torture the Artist: We all know you have a passion for music, was there ever a time you needed to clear your mind and detach in order for you to gain some momentum. What other activities do you enjoy besides music?

Kev Sheridan: Yes, while preparing for the live set I spent a good five weeks away from distractions so I could really focus on it with a clear mind. Apart from music, I love to take walks in nature.

Torture the Artist: In your career as DJ, which has been your favorite city or venue to play in. is there a particular place in the world you haven’t been to which you are dying to cross of your list?

Kev Sheridan: I love playing in Berlin. It’s still a novelty for me as I wanted to come here for so long before I made the move. Festivals are great too, so I’m looking forward to this summer. There are lots of places I’d like to play of course but to pick one, I suppose Tulum in Mexico. From seeing photos and videos of friends playing there it looks pretty amazing.

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Picture by Nino Vincenzo Valpiani (www.ninovalpiani.com)

Torture the Artist: Your tracks tend to carry some stirring titles with some deeply-rooted words – sort of like music with vocals without the need for actual words. Are you also a fan of writing/literature? Have you (literally or figuratively in imagination) written a story for or within each of your track?

Kev Sheridan: Yes, I like to read, but was never very good with creative writing. Pretty much all of the music I make definitely has a story (for me) or at least a feeling. I find music to be super carthartic, so will often make something (or just sit and play the piano) as a method of expressing and realising my emotions.

I don’t usually have a set goal or idea of the end result.

Torture the Artist: Is there a side of Kev Sheridan which you wish to explore more in your upcoming projects, or are you not yet finished with expressing the sound you introduced to your listers in ‘Alone in Berlin’?

Kev Sheridan: I don’t usually have a set goal or idea of the end result when I begin making something so I’m open to pretty much anything musically to be honest.

Torture the Artist: We haven’t seen a Kev Sheridan remix, or at least not one released or public. Have you given remix duties a try? Which track (current or in the past) would you love to give a Kev Sheridan rendition to?

Kev Sheridan: Actually I have a remix coming out in June on a new label, ZMG. The original is a song called ‘Paralysed’ by WeEatElectricLight, which will be on the same release. DJ Healer Hopes and Fears‘ is a track I’d definitely love to remix. The chords are beautiful.

Torture the Artist: What are the last 7 tracks on your soundcloud history queue and which ones made it into your art:cast?

Kev Sheridan: They’re all Pampa tracks as it happens. It’s one of my favourite labels, but none of them are actually in the art:cast mix. <smiles>

Interview by Marie J Floro