FINRG has recently interviewed the man behind NU Energy during the slow recuperation of the music industry:
1 First of all we want to know how are you Kevin? / Have you stayed healthy during this time?
Thanks for asking, and I’m good right now thanks. I still managing my chronic fatigue on a daily basis so I have to watch the things I do. My family and I have somehow avoided COVID so we’re pleased with that.
2 You’ve been doing your thing since the 90’s when you were only 12 and you already ”retired” from the rave scene in 2011 due to business and illness reasons, but in 2017 you relaunched NU Energy with the opening of Big Jam Studios and started producing again. How do you feel like to be back now after a few years of absence?
I’m really happy and proud with the way that things have panned out for my career, health and musically. When I stepped back from the rave scene, I was having a very stressful time trying to maintain Nu Energy as a business. It was costing more to run than it was generating so I was investing my DJ income into the label operations. At that time, there was not as much DJ work as previously, and to be honest, I was not enjoying every gig. There were good ones, and not so good ones if you get me? Sometimes I’d drive 3-4 hours to perform at a 1/4 full venue with a rubbish sound system and 2 MC’s that just wanted to be twice as loud as the music and rap over every part of a set. These kind of gigs we’re not so enjoyable. On the flip, there were always gigs that you knew would be absolutely buzzing with superb production and a crowd eager to hear some freeform rather than then usual happy hardcore anthems. Because DJing was my only real income, I had a need to say yes to every request. Fast forward to 2022 and the situation for me is completely different. Firstly, through establishing my studio business Big Jam Studios, I have learnt so much musically and production wise as I’ve recorded, produced and mixed pretty much every genre that you could imagine! My freeform Nu Energy production is not a business now, it’s a hobby that I can do for fun and for myself. I’m not responsible for managing other artists music and I have no overheads so it’s something I can do strictly for the passion and love without the stress or fear of financial difficulty. When it comes to DJing, I have a lot of requests and because of my health struggles I will only commit to a handful of gigs per year and I can choose to only takes ones that I know will have good production so the music will be loud and clear for the ravers.
The one thing that has struck me so much since making a comeback is how loyal the fans have been and how much passion and love they still have for the music. That has been a big motivation to keep the music flowing.
3 You recently posted about collaborating with Lost Soul, which gave us the idea for this interview in the first place. The post blew up your social media. Are we talking about a single release of Lost Soul & Kevin Energy collab or can we expect more to come?
It was ace having Lost Soul at the studio as our last collaboration was in 2010 for ‘Termination Shock’ I feel like I’ve come on leaps and bounds as a producer since then. I invited Lost Soul back in to the studio as I’m working on a new album which is based on collaborations. The productions are 90% finished with the final mixing and mastering on a handful if them left to do. The song with Lost Soul sounds amazing – it’s got that classic gritty and mind-bending sound and the pair of us were bursting with ideas during the session.
4 With todays environment the genres are becoming more and more indistinguishable and irrelevant with business techno superstars playing hardhouse classics for thousands of people and FINRG relaunching itself with only couple of freeform tracks out. You’re known as a Freeform & Hard Trance DJ yourself, do the shackles of genre bind your creativity or what is your view on the matter?
Musically, I’m the most creative and inspired as ever. On a weekly basis I’m sat with my clients writing pop, hiphop, gospel, acoustic, D&B, commercial dance, house – absolutely everything! In terms of my own projects, I have some other artists names like KC Thorpe for house music where I work with local singers, and Supernature for deep and commercial trance with singer Brian Locke. When I did my Universal Energy album, I did alternate drum & bass versions of the songs just for fun. I have mixed views on the matter of having to confirm to rules within genres. Obviously, as an artist, I build my career on being known for not confirming to the regular and obvious formulas, but when I’m being commissioned by a commercial label to produce a beat for an artist, there are always very strict rules as to how things should sound and be arranged so they can fit into a specific easy to market category. These kind of clients are only interested in potential sales rather than breaking music boundaries which means you get a lot of similar sounding music out there.
5 The modern world has an endless amounts of tools for new artists to work towards their dreams as independent musicians and future headliners. Youtube is filled with excellent tutorials for producing, mastering and creating a brand in order to launch a career. Anybody can create their own personal ”MTV” or purchase tracks from ghost production sites to release as their own. Has this affected your perspective on modern dance music?
Well, it’s easy to sound old here and have a rant about the fact that the true art and skill needed to produce is no longer essential to be an artist. It’s the same as DJing in that juggling vinyl is a true art and really separates the men from the boys when it comes to keeping songs in time. The modern way is to make things easier for people, and now a 10 year old could buy a set of stems from a production site and arrange them on an iPhone for release on their own label with a £5 logo created from a freelancer website. This is the reason that when you scroll through the new releases section of any digital store, you have heaps and heaps of music to filter through, most of which is generic and boring. It’s the modern way, and it’s easy for good music to get lost in the jungle, however the real cream rises to the top!
6 The world is filled with streams, labels, music, genres, podcasts, episodes, sessions etc. The music scene is maintaining itself digitally on platforms like Facebook / Instagram which isn’t made specifically for the music industry and where algorythms decide who gets to be seen and who doesn’t. How do you think this affects new artists chances to pop up comparing to times before the social media?
This follows on perfectly from the previous question and to be honest, it’s another reason why I’m glad I’m not signing new music from other artists and managing their careers. Gone are the days of having a solid DJ mailing list as a form of promo. These days you need to have your finger on the pulse with playlist swaps, social media add campaigns and digital marketing. Personally, I don’t get involved with any of that. My love and passion is in the studio creating magic either for my clients, or for my own enjoyment. I don’t get involved with music business now and leave that to the new breed of label managers who have established their workflow. I love the concept of social media in that it unites the world and can instantly ‘blow up’ a song or artist, I’m just not personally keen on being responsible for managing that for others.
7 NU Energy has released tons of vinyls throughout its history. Spotify and other streaming services have taken the industry by storm and most of the music in the world is in the reach of our pockets. Is it better this way?
Ultimately I think it is better as the music is more ‘available’, however I don’t think the finances are weighted in the artists favour. For niece underground genres like Freeform, you can never expect to get a decent enough income from releasing a song digitally to make it a career. Even claiming tens of thousands of streams can even generate enough income to cover a studio session.
8 The music we represent is quite young compared to rock music for example. How do you think the Hard Trance & Freeform scene will look like in 2030?
Good question, I have true faith that people will always want hard, fast and euphoric music to dance to. You can’t get the feeling and energy from other music in that way. Whether it’s called ‘Hard Trance’ or ‘Freeform’ is another question as it may be wrapped up in different tags or labels, but music is music, and people are people and the connection with high energy music that can take you on a journey will always be there on a fundamental level.
9 What does this year look like for Kevin Energy?
Life is currently extremely busy and balancing health, family and business is a fine balance. My studio schedule for client production work currently has me fully booked 5 days a week so I’m training new team members to help to grow the business further. My own personal music projects will be the Nu Energy collaboration album, some new and exciting Supernature music on Anjuna Beats and some new KC Thorpe house music recorded with local singers.
10 Favourite Finland memory?
There have been some amazing Freeform gigs, and because you all love your drink and are generous hosts, I’ve always ended up in the crowd partying and then onto the afterparty! The most memorable time for me was the final farewell tour in 2011 where I performed two nights in a row with Proteus. I still remember how magic the crowd reaction was in Helsinki and I’d love to re-create that magic again in the future.
Want to be featured on FINRG Recordings interview article? Hit us up in the contact section and we’ll see what we can come up with!