Kev Chase on London culture, clubbing and learning to spin off borrowed decks

Ahead of his headline set for Groove Odyssey on 5 August, we caught up with Kev Chase to talk London culture, clubbing, and who he’ll be catching at 51st State.

You started DJing while you were very young - 15 or so - what sort of setup did you have back then?
I had no setup at the of age 15, but I had friends that did, and I used to go round their houses and have a go... At that age I had a tape deck where I use to tape music off the radio, and around the same age I started running around with friends who ran a pirate radio station back then who let me go on the decks after a certain time . I didn't get my first setup until around 17: a pair of direct drive Soundlabs for about £30, with a mixer included too!! Then, when I was 18, I managed to save £600 to get my hands on the Holy Grail for an aspiring DJ... Technic 1210’s...

You’re currently based in London - is this where you grew up?
I’m a Londoner born and bred in Greenwich, South London.

How does living and playing in London inspire your work?
I think it has inspired me a lot: Londoners are open minded and know their music. And growing up around different cultures has definitely helped and inspired me. Being born to Jamaican parents living in London helped shape my identity and influences the way I play... To me, London is the capital of the world; you can learn everything about the world right here.

Do you think the clubbing scene in London (or other cities) has changed since you were young?
Yes, it has definitely changed a lot. With so many nightclubs in London being shut down at a really fast rate, the trend seems to be that people prefer bars or pubs or even staying at home now. My favourite era was the nineties: back then you had a wealth of parties, raves, and clubs to go to – loads. Everything seemed better back then – the sound systems, the vibe, the atmosphere etc... Now there’s not much to choose from and it’s not the same.

Growing up, who were the artists that you looked up to the most?
There’re so many.... First off, I'm a soul boy at heart. That was and still is my first love. Reggae was played a lot in my house, and my uncles and cousins had sound systems – that influenced me lot. Artists like Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor, The Investigators, The In Crowd, Jah Stitch, Frankie Paul, and loads more.

On the Soul tip, it started off with people like Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross, Mantronix, Cameo, and back then lots of rare groove I was listening to. And then I moved on to the likes of Al B Sure, Teddy Riley, the whole New Jack Swing era. Artists Like Pharrell were a complete inspiration, with the work he has done.

Hip Hop wise: Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, NWA, Jay Z, Nas, J Dilla... too many too mention, I could go on!

Finally, the House Scene: definitely Larry Heard aka Mr Fingers, Masters at Work, Kerri Chandler, and Frankie Knuckles. There are more, but these were the main artists that made me pay attention to House.

You have a weekly radio show ‘Nightlife Experience’ every Sunday afternoon on - what do you like most about doing radio?
What I love the most about doing radio is reaching out to different people... I get messages from people all over the world telling me how much they love the show and people coming up to me in the clubs to tell me that they love it... that’s the main reason. But also being able to experiment and play the music I really like, looking for music to play, scouring the sites for that hidden gem that I always manage to find.

If you could describe your show in 3 words, what would they be?
Forward, Journey, Innovative.

Where do you think the best house music’s coming out of these days?
In my opinion Louie Vega is setting the pace, he is absolutely killing it, pushing the scene right out there... I’m liking what’s coming out of the Jackin’ scene right now, especially when they revisit the classic rare groove and soul. All in all, there’s lots of great music out there for us to DJ’s to get lost in.

Are there any other genres or artists you’d like to branch out into and work with?
I would like to make Neo Soul, Broken beat, and Soulful Hip Hop – I listen to those genres a lot. Artist-wise, in the House scene – Stephanie Cooke, Monique Bingham, Shree Hicks, and Mike City to name a few.

Aside from music, what are you most passionate about?
Food!! I love food – I like to cook and to barbecue all sorts. I’m still thinking of training to become a professional chef...

Now we’re really looking forward to hearing you take down the main stage on 5 August - who are you most looking forward to seeing at 51st State?
I‘ve got to say Masters at Work first and foremost: they've had the most influence on me musically, house wise. But also Basement Jaxx, Wookie, there’re so many top artists to choose from - spoilt for choice.

Finally, what can we expect from you in 2017?
You will finally see some production releases from me under Nightlife People which consists of myself, Dougie Dwongo and Brockney C. I’ll also be hooking up with the head honcho of Groove Odyssey – Mr Mikee – and working with him... WATCH THIS SPACE!!