Exactly six months after celebrating three decades of game-changing Techno music with the initial anniversary EP, Kevin Saunderson’s KMS label moved into phase two with the second KMS30 EP.
Featuring tracks from Kevin Saunderson & Art Department, Loco Dice and Dantiez, EP 2 continues where the first left off, positioning KMS as one of Techno’s mainstay imprints.
We had the chance to chat with Kevin in honor of the occasion and to discuss the past, present and future of the label.
Hey Kevin, it’s great talking to you again! Thanks again for playing for us in LA a few weeks back. What did you think of the gig?
It was very good! Proper warehouse party with a great crowd and vibes. I was playing a variety of house, tech house and techno sounds and the dancers were loving all aspects of it, what more could you ask for?
Congrats on the 30 Year Anniversary of KMS! Did you ever think you’d reach this milestone when your started off?
I first started KMS as an avenue to release my own music and have control over the process. I never thought this far ahead but it’s quite amazing we are 30 years down the line and still going strong.
At what point did you fully decide that music was going to be your life career and what prompted that choice?
1988, when Inner City started to take off, was the year that determined everything. It was at that point that I felt I had some talent and certainly the passion to push things forward, making a full time career out of music and supporting myself in the process.
Running a label has changed meanings completely over the last three decades. What are some of the important lessons you’ve learned as a label owner in this time period?
The record industry has completely evolved since my early days, we used to manufacture vinyl, CDs and even cassette tapes, which meant everything was much more hands on. Over the years, the physical part has changed, streaming has taken off even to the point that I feel digital downloads will become a thing of the past. Obviously, there is less profit to be made in labels, releases are seen almost as a promo tool to push live careers. Of course, they are still the vehicle for sharing great music.
In terms of lessons, I feel having control over your music is much better. Even though you gotta have deeper pockets, it’s better to hold onto your rights, even licensing records where you feel you need to, rather than handing everything over to someone else.
As the years have progressed so has the music, and what’s hit and what isn’t. What inspires your own productions these days and is it different than what used to inspire you in the studio back when you began producing?
What inspires me is playing in front of people. Feeling their reaction to the music, seeing how they move and dance and the excitement in their faces, it’s the best kind of feedback. These vibrations you get from the crowd, that’s what keeps me going back to the studio day in and day out.
Do you still do the A&R at KMS or what’s your involvement there these days?
My son Dantiez does most of the A&R work, keeping his finger on the pulse at all times. I still bring tracks in from time to time. If it’s something I like and want to support then I will, more often than not, it’ll be with an artist I have some history with.
Would you say the focus and objectives of the label have changed since you first launched it?
The focus has always been putting out great music, music that inspires us. Our objectives have stayed the same too, have control over the music that we love and share it with the world, whilst trying to give a spotlight to local talent in Detroit, as well as those based worldwide.
You’re celebrating this fantastic milestone with a brilliant release featuring Dantiez, Loco Dice and Art Department. What do these artists represent for KMS and why did you select them for the EP release?
KMS30 EP2 seems to have gone really well and it’s always a lot of fun putting them together. I haven’t done many collabs in the past, but I feel I achieved something special with KiNK previously and now Art Department too. In terms of Loco Dice, me and him have built a great relationship over the years, so I thought it would be cool to get him involved and he really delivered. I feel like this EP helped us represent the past, present and future, with Dantiez turning something in to represent the next wave.
Where do you see KMS moving in the next 30 years?
In the future, the music is still going to be around, people will still be dancing, keeping KMS around forever, that’s all I can say.
I can imagine that not many producers would say no to releasing on the label but I have got to ask this: is there an artist out there you’d love to add to the KMS roster that you haven’t managed to get yet?
There are some artists I have yet to approach but I certainly will at some point. There is no one in particular that stands out, it comes down to inspiration at the time. There are some amazing collabs in the pipeline with incredibly talented artists but, you know, timing is everything.
The label is hosting a Movement party and you have a stage at the festival. What are you looking forward to the most from the special weekend this year?
Yes every year we do our Origins stage, again, it’s about pushing the past, present and future and I feel we have the perfect lineup for this. This is always an annual highlight, previous shows have gone very well and I can wait to go again. I’m really looking forward to bringing KiNK’s live show to Detroit, that will be amazing. Also gotta mention the new Inner City live show, Dantiez and I will unveiling that on the Main Stage on Memorial Day, playing lots of new material. Set to be a memorable occasion, that’s for sure.