Growing up the kid from Manchester certainly didn’t define versatile house maestro Juan Kidd. By the time he was old enough to drive a car he was self-releasing records and collaborating with the likes of Yousef and Alex Baumgartner.
A self-proclaimed house DJ and producer, the Mancunian's ability to master three CDJs lends itself well to varied live sets that oscillate between deep house to tribal house and even techno. The live entertainer, who was once told he wasn’t musical, now relishes in the encore. Jasmine Phull speaks to Juan Kidd about the importance of “visuals, branding and a reduction in cheeseburgers”.
You’re currently working on a collaboration with Ministry of Sound. Why is MOS held in such high regard? What does a collaboration with Ministry of Sound mean to a DJ or producer?
I’m actually just doing a remix for a secret project they are working on right now, and that’s all I can say.
Your new radio show aired just this month on Manchester’s Unity FM 92.8. What inspired you to jump on the airwaves? Do you feel it allows your fans to feel closer to you as an artist?
I used to have a show in Manchester years ago and when I got asked and was told I could play what I wanted I was up for it. I have to do a podcast every month anyway so I would already have the track selection laid out, then record live or pre-record if I am touring.
Like many producers and musicians, you’re originally from Manchester. Would you say there’s a growing community of artists that influence one another?
There are a few up and coming producers, but there isn’t a great community here anymore. My studio is on the same floor as Gareth Emery so I see him every now and then and I catch up with Oliver Lang and Jay C from Toolroom for a few beers on the odd occasion. There aren’t a lot of big producers here in my genre.
What has Manchester given the artist Juan Kidd?
Well it gave me an upbringing of soul and soulful house from the Hacienda onwards. I have different projects but I find them hard when I listen to a soulful record. I am glad to see the deep house charts emerging with lots of chord changes and vocals.
Festival season is well underway, so how important is the live gig? How much of your shows are created live on stage?
All my shows are. I do have my set acapellas, but I read the crowd and vary my sets accordingly. Something a lot of big DJs don’t do.
At a show the crowd is filled with a mixture of people with a mix of expectations. Can you divide that crowd into three categories and list them below?
1) People who come to see you because they know your music.
2) People who always want commercial.
3) People who buy tables to pull women and don’t give a fuck about the music. (Unfortunately why we get paid well in America).
Has important is the visual aesthetic, on stage and off?
It is very important and is something I have been working on with visuals, branding and a reduction in cheeseburgers. For the really cool clubs it doesn’t matter but for America it is so important and branding is a massive part of making it A List.
What are your thoughts on the ‘encore’? Is it something you embrace?
Of course, what DJ wouldn’t? An encore means you did an amazing set and that’s why we do it.
Musically was there someone quite influential during your youth?
I was told at primary school that I wasn’t musical and wasn’t allowed to learn piano, and I believed it until I started making electronic dance music about eight years ago. Can you believe we have those morons in our schools?
Who are you currently listening to?
Smooth FM, Emily Sander and Eric Prydz’s new and amazing album. I always have Bob Marly and Chaka Khan in the car. I’m going to watch The Stone Roses this Friday so looking forward to that. I used to love them.
Tell us about your new label Weirdo. What are three things you look for when signing an artist to Weirdo?
There is only one thing: a great record that I would play in a club myself.
Why the name?
Last year when we were in Ibiza everyone kept calling each other Weirdos, which we are. That’s the reason, and good for branding.
The most influential city in terms of your musical output?
Ibiza. I know it’s not a city but it’s the best place in the world for all EDM. I was just living in LA and wasn’t that impressed with the music scene there, but you have to be there because in the next few years it will be the best place. They just need to get house music a bit more - that will come with age.
What are you thoughts on collaboration? Does it help keep ideas fresh?
Collaborations are great. They’re a good way to get fresh ideas and learn some different production skills.
Interview: Jasmine Phull