David Kennedy, known to the internet and its hordes of opinionated message board posters as Ramadanman, has risen up through the depths of the underground music gloriously; progressing from selling his first productions as WAVs through dubstep forum to part owning and defining the Hessle Audio label’s output (alongside Ben UFO and Pangaea). Releasing music on 2nd Drop, Soul Jazz, Apple Pips, Tempa, 7even, Critical and our very own fabric Records his approach to dubstep and into music in general is infectious. To put it simply there is no shortage of admiration loaded adjectives we can use to describe his productions, Kennedy is armed with an enviable knack of allowing each component to fully breathe and occupy the right amount of space.
He dropped into the office somewhat unexpectedly to answer some of our questions, discuss his plans for next year’s quarterly Hessle Audio fabric residency and he kindly brought along some records that you can win, if you hit that jump and finish reading.
You started DJing at 14, what made you take it up at such a young age?
I was always interested in DJing, though at first I kind of thought there was only hip-hop DJing, like I thought you could only scratch records and stuff... When I was interested in getting some decks I went to a show room and the guy did a mix (as in beat-matched) and I was just like this is rubbish, I want to see some scratching. But I didn’t realise that for scratching you need a lot more expensive equipment so I just was like OK then I’ll learn how to beat match. So I bought some hundred quid decks, which I still use...
Did you pick it up quickly?
Well, yeah I mean I read a bit on the internet about how to do it. There were loads of house records I used to play on my decks which were really simple 4x4 beats. I think I found it quite easy... I don’t really remember; I was 13 or 14 years old. I do remember it took a while though; it took a while to get it locked...
At what age did you start to see that it might go somewhere?
I didn’t really, until I started putting stuff out. I was never trying to be a big name… I was just djing for fun when I was younger. When you’re 14 you don’t really think about it. But then again, there are some people that are younger than 14 and are driven to become the next Tiesto, or whatever... I was never really into him that much...
What have been the highlights of you career? Your most memorable moments…
There have been a couple of things I could name. Playing FWD for the first time was really good... it was in May last year. It was quite bizarre to be asked to play somewhere like that, but amazing.
Another memory was having my first record/vinyl out and also going to America to tour this summer was really cool, that was a whole series of highlights!
Are you excited about playing at Outlook this year?
Yeah, I’m going tomorrow morning. It should be really fun. I did it last year as well, it’s just really great. If you look at the fantastic line-up, for me it’s just loads of mates hanging out at a great location.
I guess that’s one of the great things about the dubstep scene is that everyone seems to be really good mates…
Pretty much, I mean, pretty much everyone knows each other. There are a few newer people who I don’t know so well. When I started it was back in 2006, you’d just see the same faces night after night. In general everyone gets a long which is cool...
What do you think about the whole Twitter phenomenon? Do you think its helping in any way?
Not really. At first I was more active in using it but now I don’t really have anything interesting to say. And if I do I always think is this actually interesting? Invariably it’s not. It’s just all promotion really isn’t it?
How have you found time to run Hessle Audio, run parties and play all over Europe whilst studying a full time university degree?
It’s not very difficult really... I don’t know. I do get quite busy sometimes but it’s not really as bad as people think. I don’t really play out every weekend. Although I pretty much will be until the end of the year. Even then, it’s not too bad, I get stuff done. When university starts again I’ll have to be a little bit more organised. Getting up early, that’s the secret. Wake up at 8:30 you know? No lie-ins.
So you are just going into your final year at university. Where do you see yourself going afterwards? Are you going to be moving down to London?
I don’t know really. I mean obviously a lot is going on in London. I mean, I might stay in Leeds... wherever’s not too expensive. Not London, maybe Watford. Or Luton [laughs]...
What do you study at university?
I am doing French and English.
Have you got plans to use that for anything?
I don’t know. I’d like to get a normal job. You know, something mundane... I mean it’d be nice to use the language. Maybe live back in France for a bit. I don’t know really.
So you don’t see dubstep producing as long term?
I do but it’s just that when you start relying on something as your source of income it can change the way you approach it. I mean for some people they love it when they have all this time to do it. I think I could get a bit bored, you know? You can’t make tunes every day even if you want to... Say you have a deadline at the end of the week and if you don’t meet the deadline you don’t get the money that could lead to all sorts of complications which could affect your creativity.
We’ll see basically... I have never done it full time so I don’t know really.
So what have you got coming up tune wise?
I did a remix of a Bulgarian band which should be coming up soon... I’m giving away a copy. That should be coming soon. Aside from that, I’ve got a couple of remixes here and there. I’ve had loads of stuff out these last two months so now its time for a bit of down time.
Your 2nd Hessle Audio night is at fabric this coming Friday, can you tell us how the working relationship came about?
Well, we were thinking of doing a night so we thought we’d ask fabric and they said yeah!
We did one in May which went really well and they asked us to do another one. We’re just going to keep doing it really and see how it goes. We’ve only done one but it feels like we’ve done loads. Its just still early days really.
Do you think it’s a good fit with having Marky and Friends over in Room One?
Oh yeah. The line up is really cool actually. I think sometimes people could be put off at spending 12 quid just to go and see Room Three. It’s really nice that there’s so much other complimentary music on show in the other rooms... hopefully it can work both ways. People might come for the other rooms and end up really enjoying our room and vice versa.
Catch Ramadanman alongside Ben UFO, Pangaea, Untold and special guest Peverelist in Room Three this Friday. Room One plays host to DJ Marky, Freddy Foxx and Prince Paul, Makoto and Gilles Peterson.
To win a special vinyl bundle consisting of HES002 (Pangaea), HES003 (Untold), Pangaea’s ‘Memories on White Label and a test pressing of Ramadanman’s remix of “a Bulgarian band” just email you answer to the question below to email@example.com with ‘Hessle Audio Competition’ in the subject line
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Which artist had the very first release on Hessle Audio? Was it...