MK (Marc Kinchen) [US]
Revered producer, remixer and DJ, MK’s storied background is one of long-term creative development. His roots are pure Detroit, taking his early cues from electronic leaning bands like Depeche Mode, New Order and The Cure. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that MK’s musical path is made up of seamless transitions from house and techno to hip-hop and R&B, only to return to house during recent years. Currently, MK (Marc Kinchen) is finalizing his long awaited artist album, which includes collaborations with vocalists Becky Hill, Milly Pye, Anabel Englund, and a host of other friends and collaborators.
MK’s discography includes over 500 titles that bear the stamp of his signature style. These tracks range from historical iconic worldwide hits to the underground aficionado’s secret dancefloor weapons. His main goal is to produce great songs, regardless of whether they are in acoustic form or in the inimitable 4/4 club version, explaining: “I wanted to make music that shows more of me as a producer and a songwriter. I want it to reflect more than a one-dimensional sound. Once I am happy with the actual foundation of a song, I can always go in and make a club version.”
MK’s come a long way from his youth in Detroit. As a teenager growing up amidst a tough industrial landscape, he found his way into the studio with the city’s nascent techno legends Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. “I actually met Derrick [May] when I was 13,” says Marc. “And then Juan [Atkins] shortly thereafter. I had a friend in Detroit, a clothing designer named Malone, and he would go and hang out with them. He knew Derrick May – who was an incredible artist, eccentric and talent. Juan Atkins took me under his wing for a time, and a couple of years later I met Kevin. He was pretty well known and working with him was like a dream. When the guys were there they always made me feel comfortable and welcome, but since they were on tour a lot, I often had the studio to myself to play around.”
Needless to say, those early studio sessions provided MK with the lessons and tools he needed to make timeless tracks like ‘The Rains,’ ‘Burning,’ ‘Always,’ and more. That was just the beginning of the story. By the mid 1990s, Marc had become THE go-to guy for killer club mixes. This was thanks in part to the monumental success of his million plus-selling ‘Push The Feeling On’ remix for The Nightcrawlers, which in reality was more of a complete overhaul of the song. He was given only a vocal sample from the lead vocalist of the band and had never even heard the original music. MK twisted the original song on its head and custom-built a distinctive new groove for cooler dance-floors everywhere, and his signature sound was baptized.
Soon after the worldwide success of ‘Push The Feeling On,’ the remix offers from major and indie labels came in like wildfire. It was during this time that smash hits like his brilliant bassline-powered refix of ‘Freek N You’ for Jodeci, ‘Misled’ for Celine Dion, ‘The Best Things In Life Are Free’ for Janet Jackson, ‘Can You Forgive Her’ for Pet Shop Boys, as well as remixes for Mary J., Jody Watley, M People, M.A.W., Blondie, and Brandy came out. Many of these remixes are still the favourites of the connoisseur. Marc sums it up nicely: “Nightcrawlers was the really popular one, Jodeci was the one every house DJ wanted to play and PSB was the underground cool.”
His so-called dance music hiatus began toward the end of the 90’s, when his desire to explore other genres of music led him to delve into hip hop, R&B and ultimately pop. During this time, he worked with Will Smith, Quincy Jones, Diane Warren, Tyrese, Brandy, and Pitbull to name a few.
It was a chance connection with Jamie Jones and Lee Foss that led to MK’s return to dance music, but this time he returned as a DJ as well as producer. “Six years ago, I was trying to figure out my life, I was at a crossroads, kind of lost, but I knew I wanted to go back to house music, so I reached out to my old team. After that things just started to fall together. First, Pitbull sampled Nightcrawlers [on ‘Hotel Room Service’ in 2011] and then Jamie Jones and Lee Foss invited me to play at a Hot Natured party in Miami before I was really even DJing out! House has always been my first love and it still is the music that excites me, so I took the plunge and started DJing.”
Around the same time, Marc’s classics ‘Burning,’ ‘Love Changes,’ and ‘Always’ started to find a new audience in the UK and Europe. Defected Records signed him to be a part of the House Masters series, but the icing on the proverbial cake came when he asked to remix Storm Queen “Look Right Through.” After an incredible 18 months of being in the charts, Marc’s distinctive rework went to #1 in the UK singles chart. “I knew it was going to be something special as soon as it was done!” he beams.
Suddenly, the special relationship he had enjoyed with the UK for so long was reborn. Since then Marc has nurtured that synergy; “In England, house music is part of the culture, the lifeline. The UK has always been an incredible fire-starter for music around the world, people tune in to listen to the online radio shows and watch their charts religiously.” Marc’s hot remix streak continued with songs like ‘Forward Motion’ for Hot Natured, Lana Del Ray’s ‘Blue Jeans’ and ‘Summertime Sadness,’ his masterful UK #4 remix for Wankelmut’s ‘My Head Is A Jungle,’ and remixes for the likes of Sam Smith, Pharrell, Paloma Faith, Ellie Goulding, Disclosure, Haim, Mary J. Blige, Diplo, Rudimental, and more recently, Justin Bieber, Tove Lo, and Rihanna.
On the live front, MK’s signature chopped up, piano-laden sound started to become very recognized. Quickly becoming one of house music’s most popular DJs in the world, MK’s shows not only provide him the opportunity to engage with the crowd, but they also give him the chance to road-test new material. MK acknowledges that the Ibiza crowds and clubs played a big part in his resurgence. “First Storm Queen happened and the summer after was ‘My Head Is A Jungle’ and the re-release of ‘Always’. Summer is always hectic!”
Keeping with the theme of summer bangers, Marc’s 2016 production ‘Piece of Me’, became a certified hit starring acclaimed pop vocalist Becky Hill, who MK previously worked with after remixing Rudimental’s ‘Powerless’ in 2014. “After delivering that remix, I told my manager: “Please find her!” My A&R also helped and got us in contact. It’s no secret that I have always been attracted to a certain kind of vocalist: melodic and soulful with a pop appeal. It’s actually harder to find than you’d think.”
The track surged over 40 million Spotify streams, and was to serve as a preceding success to the mighty ‘17.’ Featuring MK’s trademark piano chords layered over a powerful bassline, the track soon gained iconic status as an Ibiza anthem, peaking at Number #7 in the Official UK Top 40 singles chart and rocketing to Number #1 on the UK Dance Chart. The success of the track (Marc’s highest ever charting original solo production) set the tone for Marc’s worldwide ‘17’ tour which saw the Detroit producer play a number of shows across the Autumn of 2017, including Cardiff, Bristol, and Manchester’s Warehouse Project in the UK, his own Area10 showcase at ADE, and a run of dates across his native USA, ending in his home city of Detroit.
The tour followed a busy summer schedule for MK after hosting his Area10 Stages at SW4 and at the 25th anniversary of Creamfields along with friends, Gorgon City, Claptone, Idris Elba, CamelPhat, TCTS, and KC Lights & Will Clarke. Having already played a headline slot at We Are FSTVL, Malta’s Lost & Found, as well as Croatia’s Hideout, and Defected Festival, the American DJ also played several dates in Ibiza during summer, at various venues including Amnesia and Pacha.
Following the success of both his own 2017, and ‘17’ (30 million Spotify streams and 11 million YouTube hits so far), MK has already been confirmed to once again play at We Are FSTVL in May 2018, as this highly in-demand house hero’s schedule starts filling up once more.