Magazine Sixty Interview with Kered (Loot Recordings)

Magazine Sixty Interview with Kered (Loot Recordings). Greg Fenton talks to the DJ, Producer, and owner of Loot Recordings as they celebrate ten years as a label. Read Kered’s considered thoughts on the culture of music here.

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Kered. Let’s start at the start. Before getting into dance music can you tell us about some of the important records that shaped your outlook on life?

Thanks for having me! There are so many records that shaped me and had an impact on my life. I come from the generation before YouTube and Spotify, so nothing was on demand back then, and had to actually buy the music or wait around to hear it on the radio. Imagine?!? As a child, I had a Fisher Price record player and later got my hands on a better turntable around 8 or 9 years old. I have fond memories of sitting in the basement in my own world, playing albums such as KISS “Destroyer” and Pink Floyd “The Wall”. My mother was into all kinds of pop music, so we constantly had music playing from Michael Jackson, Blondie, Prince, Duran Duran, David Bowie, and the like. My mother’s brother was also a disco DJ, so there was that influence too. Everything from The Bee Gees and Trammps to all kinds of disco.

I remember my uncle playing the albums “Dirty Mind” by Prince and “Thriller” by Michael Jackson during Thanksgiving or Christmas at my grandmother’s in his bedroom and I was blown away. Surrounding all of this was jazz music, thanks to my father. Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck and other classics as well as Weather Report, The Crusaders, Herbie Hancock, and more. There was always music being played in our house. These records really shaped how I saw the world too. I would read the album and liner notes from cover to cover while listening to the music. I would study the album cover artwork, lyrics, liner notes and photos. It was something I’d get lost in. For example, Lipps Inc. “Funkytown” had this wild, futuristic artwork and then there was The Eagles “Hotel California” album. The photos sucked me in and I’d get lost in my head, imagining some fantastical place where life was pretty wild. Later on during my high school days I gravitated toward sounds like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Jane’s Addiction, Depeche Mode before discovering dance music.

All of the music and artists above influenced me. In terms of how it shaped my outlook on life, I suppose it gave me a sense of comfort and refuge. If I was feeling down, music was, and still is, my escape. If I’m feeling happy, music amplifies that. It also gave me my first glimpse that there’s a big world out there. I couldn’t wait to explore it. MTV had a profound impact too. It was one thing to listen to music, but it was another thing to see it on the TV. That really gave me the desire to want to see things beyond where I lived. I also shared music by making compilation tapes or showing friends a new song. I guess this was all destiny in a weird way to one day get on the turntables and share the music I love.

Celebrating ten years of your label Loot Recordings must feel like some achievement in these days of shortening attention spans. How would you describe the highs and lows of running your label?

It definitely feels like quite the milestone and accomplishment. I’m extremely proud of the music and what we’ve accomplished over the years. The lows of running a label are sometimes the unpredictability of what will resonate with people or the unpredictability of artists. Sometimes very talented artists come along and then they either break up or lose interest and stop making music altogether. That can be disappointing, but I’ve come to realize that there are certain things you just can’t control. There’s also the pressure of ensuring a release gets as much visibility as possible. Maybe pressure isn’t the right word, but it’s a big sense of responsibility. Sometimes you get lucky and end up on a Spotify playlist or a big DJ supports your music.

The highs are certainly the incredible support the label has received. It’s a real thrill to see DJs and producers you admire sharing feedback and supporting the music in their DJ sets. Everyone from NIck Warren and John Digweed to Joris Voorn and Lee Burridge has supported the label as well as many others. That’s a big high for sure! At the end of the day, it’s not all just about the famous DJs. There are countless dance music radio shows, up and coming DJs, and people who aren’t DJs who support and listen to our music. Above all else, the biggest high comes from working with incredible artists and having them trust us to release their music. Artists put a lot of time and effort into their art and I feel a great sense of responsibility to give it my all and ensure we achieve some level of success.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing the same?

My advice to anyone looking to start a label is to have patience. Nothing happens overnight. Maybe you’ll get lucky and have a smash hit right out of the gate that everyone supports. Chances are you won’t, but stick with it. If you believe in your vision and the music you’re putting out into the world, go for it. Perseverance pays off. I would also advise aspiring label owners to pace themselves. It takes time for a release to come together. Don’t rush things. For example, perhaps you have a release with two original songs and a remix. The remix will take some time to complete. Then there’s the time you need to get the music mastered, the artwork created, 4 to 6 weeks of promotion, and so on. You want to give your releases breathing room. Lastly, don’t forget about the important stuff. This includes distribution, promotion, a legal advisor, a publisher, and all of the other business aspects that go along with running a label. If you stick with it and really enjoy what you’re doing, the pieces will eventually fall into place over time.

Tell us about how you compiled Loot Recordings: 10?

This was a crazy and fun idea from concept to completion. Everything was on the table. We started thinking about this last year and the first idea was to ask artists on the label for a new track to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. Then we thought, well, everyone kind of does this and that’s been done before. The same for swapping remixes with other artists. The idea that really stood out was to pick some of our most celebrated releases and ask the original artists to remix themselves. Remix, reimagine, revisit, whatever they desired.

When we approached the artists on this, everyone was really curious and excited. Some even said how much they enjoyed the challenge of remixing their own music. The end result is a compilation that ended up getting split into two parts. Loot Recordings: 10, Pt. 1 and Loot Recordings 10, Pt. 2 that feature reinvented versions of tracks from our early days and some just a year or so old. I probably say this about every release, but this one was very special and was the most challenging and enjoyable experience.

Outside of dance music what influences you most in terms of artists, writers, movie directors etc?

I’m a huge Rick Rubin fan. Before his book “The Creative Act: A Way Of Being” I would listen to every interview I could find from him. I enjoyed his older podcast “Broken Record” and now I can’t get enough of his new podcast called “Tetragrammaton”. His creative advice always resonates with me. Sometimes it’s so intuitive and simple, other times it forces you to look deep within. Apart from Rick, I read a lot of non-fiction books, so the authors vary. I really enjoyed Dave Grohl’s biography, stuff from Sadhguru, Michael Pollan, Adam Grant, and Seth Godin to name a few.

For movie directors, I enjoy all of the David Fincher films. He has a unique style of filming that grabs me. I’m also a fan of Guy Ritchie movies and loved his recent series “The Gentleman” on Netflix.

When it comes to producing your own music do you find the process relaxed or strenuous? Can you tell us about the studio you use and any particular software/hardware you always refer to?

I find it to be both relaxing and strenuous, LOL. The relaxing part of it is when you have a great idea that’s just flowing and it seems to come right out. I’m not a fast producer who can bang out a track in a day. Maybe the idea or the groove, but the finer details and whatnot have always taken time for me. I also work with different partners in the studio to help me finish ideas and bring them all together. For example, Mike Kiraly and I did a lot of stuff together at one time. The strenuous part is when you’re stuck and what seemed like a good idea just isn’t. Moving on and letting go of something can be strenuous, but it almost always leads to a better idea down the road.

My studio setup is quite simple. I use Ableton, a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 midi controller and keyboard, Apollo Twin from Universal Audio, TR-8 from Roland, and a lot of VST plugins. This is more than enough for me!

Download/Stream The Sound: V.8 Mixed by Kered here

Can you play a musical instrument? And which is your favourite instrument (Do you own one, if so what is the story behind getting it?)

I’m not a classically trained musician, but learned everything by ear. When I was younger I got an organ/keyboard for Christmas. I taught myself how to play all kinds of music on this but ultimately lost interest. As a teenager it was all about rock and roll and playing guitar. I had an acoustic guitar, a Les Paul knockoff, a Yamaha electric guitar, and played in some bands. Then, just like the LCD Soundsystem song says, I traded my guitars in for turntables. Literally. I brought all my rock gear and walked out of the store with two Technic 1200’s and a mixer.

During the Covid era of late 2020 and early 2021 I had the itch to start playing guitar again. I lost my dog Lulabelle of 16 years and not long after bought an Alvarez acoustic guitar. I appropriately named Lu. She was a chihuahua dachshund mix that was my biggest muse, spending many late nights in my studio listening to me work on music, listening to new releases and whatnot.

As someone dealing with the changing landscape of both club and music culture does it feel more like a commodity now, does music still have the power to change things politically or socially? Or is it more simply about entertainment?

This is a great question. Music certainly does feel like more of a commodity nowadays. I think living in an on-demand culture plays a big part in this. We can listen to any song we want with just the click of the mouse or swipe of the phone. Before this, there was something very special about discovering music on the radio and then going out to buy it. I suppose this still exists in some way with a new track or release that is coming out and you hear it in a DJ set or on a radio show first. This still creates excitement for me. I am on a never-ending quest for great music, whether it’s for the label or for my own DJ sets. I am constantly searching, listening to DJ mixes, radio shows and the like to discover new sounds.

I wholeheartedly believe that music is a powerful force that connects with all of us in one way or another. Music is also a very personal thing. How you hear, or feel, hearing music can be entirely different than how someone else does. Music has the power to make us cry or make us put our hands up in the air and scream. It can also bring people together. That’s magic and very few things in this world can do that. I’m not so sure about politically or socially motivating people. Throughout history, there have been moments of this, especially with punk or the rock of the sixties. This music spoke to a generation of people about change, standing up for what’s right, and so on. I don’t think we’ve had something like that in a long time. Artists today, and perhaps their management, seem too afraid of alienating some of their fans. Who knows, but I don’t think music “speaks” to us like some of the great music of the sixties did or what bands like The Clash, Sex Pistols, and the like were saying.

In the future will record stores still exist? Will all music end up being streamed? Do you think DJs will remain necessary?

Another great question! I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do think record stores will always exist because there is a certain audience who still appreciates and enjoys vinyl. Vinyl is no longer the only music format offered and it’s become more of a collector, fetish type of thing. With “vinyl only” releases, this also makes it more special. I still purchase the occasional vinyl record if I can’t get my hands on a digital version. I also hunt down things like The Smiths, Miles Davis and other original records – no represses allowed!

Streaming is here to stay, there’s no going back. Almost the entire history of recorded music is available to stream. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in streaming, which includes the end-user experience and paying artists more fairly. There’s an argument that artists are doing better than ever thanks to streaming, but this is really for those getting millions of streams. I’m sure things with streaming will continue to evolve.

In terms of DJs being necessary – absolutely! DJs will always remain necessary. I don’t believe that any algorithm or form of artificial intelligence will replace the DJ. A DJ is so much more than these things, right? DJs are curators, some are creators, and they’re HUMAN and know how to read a crowd in the moment and where to take them next. But who knows, right? Maybe 100 years from now there will be nightclubs designed from the playlists and music we consume. At the center of it all, it might be some AI robot and algorithm super-computer that completely rocks the crowd and people are OK with that. I hope not!

How do you see Loot Recordings evolving over the next ten years?

I’d like to see us continue to grow. It’s been a steady path of organic, slow growth for us, ranging from fans and downloads to streams and social media engagement. There hasn’t been any downturn, so that’s positive. I’m just as passionate today as I was when the label first launched. The desire to discover new music and work with artists hasn’t worn off and still burns brightly for me.

I’d like to see us pivot and start doing some nightclub showcases. That will really bring things together and make it a cohesive experience for the brand, artists and fans. I suppose the vision of the label’s future is to keep releasing quality music, working with new and exciting artists while at the same time continuing to work with our tight-knit family of artists and have fun while doing it. I couldn’t ask for anything more. The beat goes on – we’re just getting started! Thanks for having me, this was a lot of fun. I appreciate the opportunity.

Loot Recordings special anniversary release “Loot Recordings: 10, Pt. 1” is out June 7th. Preorder it Here

Kered website
Kered on Instagram
Kered on Facebook
Loot Recordings website
Loot Recordings Linktree
Loot Recordings on Facebook
Loot Recordings on Instagram

Share this post: