In a way, we already know everything there is to know about KDA.
Brought up in South London, his work – which loosely operates within the spectrum of house and techno – is steeped in the underground, but has always wanted to communicate with as many people as possible. He’s had hits – even a number one with Tinie Tempah and Katy B – without sacrificing the sound that has made him so beloved.
Yet equally, we don’t know all that much about KDA at all. Notoriously interview shy, the producer – real name Kris di Angelis – sent a cardboard cut out to Top Of The Pops.
All that is set to change with new single ‘Hate Me’, however; one of 2017’s most discussed dance tracks, it sets the powerful words of Patrick Cash to music, an anthem for the dispossessed, the downtrodden, and the pissed off.
When Clash finally tracks down KDA, he’s an effervescent, irrepressible personality, with his warm but waspish wit honed through those years in Soho, becoming a key aspect of Jodie Harsh’s This Is Circus coterie before finding his own international path.
With so much to tell, why the reticence to do the interviews, then? Is he shy? Laughter crackles down the line.
“I’m not really that shy… that’s almost a luxury!” he gasps. “I don’t know. I didn’t need to, for one. And there’s something about the compromising of your privacy that was quite an issue for me. I did those singles, but for this one I weighed up the equation and thought, I’m happy to do it for this one. It’s just a different project, and it gets a different response.”
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In many ways ‘Hate Me’ is KDA’s most personal record yet, a dancefloor bomb with a message that is incredible vital for 2018. There’s something about this record, then, that makes this London energy force want to haul down the veil just a tad.
Running away from home at the age of 15, he found himself in decrepit areas of London, as legend would have it sneaking into clubs and then sleeping on drug dealers’ floors. “I mean, I slept on anyone’s floors it didn’t matter whose it was,” he responds to this short bio. “I’ve led an interesting life – I don’t say ‘no’ much. I guess I’ve managed to tell the tale.”
“With this record I’ve made the decision to go and do interviews, go and promote, to do that side of the job, and compromise some of my privacy because I felt so affected by the poem, basically, that it just seemed to me to be the right thing to do.”
“I’ve made wicked party records, but with ‘Hate’ when I heard the poem everything hit me like a truck. It’s a very interesting time to put a record like that out. That’s a really different experience to putting out a song that makes people happy. And it just requires, I think, the mother of all tries because of the subject matter. I’m not sure I would talk about a song I had written about my ex like that. That’s a different project.”
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I don’t say ‘no’ much. I guess I’ve managed to tell the tale...
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‘Hate Me’ doesn’t hold back. It’s a song fuelled by rage and disgust, but ultimately empathy; the clarity of Patrick Cash’s words drilling home the message. It sounds completely right for these war-torn, austerity-ridden, politically-impotent times, but it took years to actually get ‘Hate Me’ into the hands of the right people.
“I made it in 2013,” KDA explains. “It had presented at every single opportunity I’d had to present something to be people. It’s not that they didn’t like it, but they didn’t know how they could put it out. It’s a record I have witnessed people say openly and honestly: I don’t know how I could make that a success.”
“And over the years I just had to wait for the world to get thrown into the bin enough to be on the right side, and say: this record needs to be out there. And now the support for it is insane! And that’s just as mind-blowing as when people used to say ‘I don’t know how we can put this out’. It’s nice to be on this side of the story now.”
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It was a bit old school, I think. It was about getting your record to the DJ, actually putting it in his hand.
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A deeply modern-sounding fusion of warm, bass-heavy house with crisp tech-driven overtones, ‘Hate Me’ has deep roots in club culture. As such, it’s heartening to see that it broke via the oldest method possible – getting it into the hands of the right DJs, and encouraging them to play it.
“One day my manager called me up and went: we need to put the record out now!” he laughs. “But that quite quickly led to Seth Troxler playing it at IMS and that’s when I realised we were sitting on this record that could affect people. It’s powerful… It was a bit old school, I think. It was about getting your record to the DJ, actually putting it in his hand. There’s something cool about that, I guess. I wouldn’t choose the struggle, but that’s how it happened.”
“Seth nailed that for me,” insists KDA. “He’s one of the most influential DJs there are. It instantly went up on to YouTube and it started getting attention almost immediately. Like, minutes after he’d made it! I became aware of things in a way I’ve not been made aware of before. And I’ve had a number one!”
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It’s an incredible dancefloor experience, a mixture of stunning lyricism, and crisp, powerful electronics that enrapture and overwhelm at every turn. “In a way, I wanted the record to be a mixture of the poem written down and strapped to a missile I can fire,” he explains. “If I can build the most effective weapon of a tune that would take in everything I know, everything I’ve learned, and make the most effective thing I can make at this point in my career, and strap that poem to it, and then fire it out… that’s basically what we’ve done.”
“The idea was to make the track so effective musically that you can be off your face on the dancefloor and not necessarily remember what the words are,” he continues. “It can just work as a record. I made it as a record for DJs to play. That was it.”
And DJs have most certainly been playing it. One of the most played, most discussed, most emulated house tracks of the past 12 months, ‘Hate Me’ has made a deep impression. Except, the landscape it’s impacting on isn’t the quite the same one that first inspired KDA as a 15 year old.
“Oh man!” he gasps, the pregnant pause seeming to hang in the air for an eternity. “Times just change. They just change. There’s a lot of places gone that... really, were they ever going to stand up to 2018 standards? Probably not. I think that I’m done being raped by security guards when I just try to turn up to a nightclub. I’m not really feeling that.”
“I’ve been here a lot longer than most of those venues have, and I don’t give a shit about them because of the way they treat you when you walk in the door. I have very little time for people who want to be nostalgic about London clubland if that’s what the shit they were offering was. It’s a party. And I’ve never ever put up with any of that crap.”
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I have very little time for people who want to be nostalgic about London clubland...
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If there’s one thing that London has always embraced, he explains, it’s change. “It happens,” he insists, with an audible shrug. “Soho was really fun for a really long time, just decades of fun… but that seems to be gone now. I don’t really know where the cool area of London is… other than, y’know, Barcelona! I don’t really know. Throughout my whole life there’s always been an area of London where something cool is going on, but at the moment it’s been decimated so intensely.”
Which isn’t to say that KDA has stopped trying to find it; he still plays out all the time, continually seeking out flecks of light in London’s increasing gloom, but the atmosphere, the crowd, the spark has changed. He continues:
“I went to an illegal rave, right, a few months ago – my mate took me down, said it was this illegal rave in Tottenham, and it would be amazing. I got there and it was this guy playing Shoreditch House disco to a bunch of really posh looking girls with glitter on their faces having just a fantastic time! I mean Christ alive… really? The most civilised thing!”
“It’s an illegal rave with a license, full arrangements, and all these things… so it’s not really that illegal. Even the space of it. It wasn’t some warehouse, it was this massive house! The people were having fun, and I’m not a snob about underground stuff – how the hell could I be? - but there’s a certain lack of cool, maybe.”
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Times just change. They just change...
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KDA has always been attracted to the edge, to the environs, to the aspects of club culture pushed away from the centre. “I mean, it’s what I’ve always been into, I guess. If I wanted to make tropical house and work with one of those Scandi girls – and believe me, I’ve been offered! - I could do, but I’m from South London...”
“I’m way more interested in the edge,” he insists. “It’s where I feel comfortable because all my friends are there, in that space. And I think that’s quite a London-ish thing. If you see the opening of the Olympics we had The Prodigy and Soul II Soul being name-dropped in the ceremony. I just felt, that’s the city I grew up in, and it’s cool.”
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Photo Credit: Hanna Hillier
Creative Director: Elgar Johnson
Styling Assistance: Oliver Sharp
'Hate Me' is out now - order LINK.
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