At Untitled 909, we are keen to feature upcoming, independent artists – the type that does their own thing and moves to the beat of their own drum. Essex-born DJ and producer Charlie Dave Kent is just that. Since starting from humble beginnings by DJing locally to then working his way through the East London music circuit, joining parties such as Art of Dark and WetYourSelf! all whilst starting up his own record label; this is an artist that has continually neither compromised his sound, nor his vision. Even though he has moved away from London and its bustling scene, it is evident that his drive still lies within music as he fills a separate Soundcloud page with grooving beats along with regular gigs around the city. I spoke to Charlie to see how he became part of the East London circuit, how his life differs since moving away from the city and how he started his own vinyl label – Drifted Records – successfully.
When was the moment you decided that you want to pursue music as a hobby/career? Were you brought up in a musical house or was it something you grew into on your own?
It was a bit of both really, I’ve always wanted to have an involvement in music I was just never really sure what it was I wanted to do. My Dad used to be right into his old dance and acid rave stuff when I was growing up as a kid, so I guess it kinda grew on me.
I was like 14 or 15 when I bought a pair of Stanton T.52 belt drives off a friend, along with a crate full of old Funky House and Hip Hop records. After a while of literally head butting a brick wall trying to grasp how to hold a mix in with these things, I wanted to start playing out. I met my good bud Joe Morley during our college days, who at the time had been DJ’ing a while himself. He showed me the ropes of using CDJ’s and everything progressed from there really.
What about the area – do you think growing up in Essex had an effect on your taste and style of sound now?
I think growing up in Essex just made me want to explore outside of the area more if I’m honest. It wasn’t until I started checking out some cool parties in London until I actually started finding a style I liked.
You’ve recently moved out of London down to Winchester, how has this affected your connection with the music scene as living in Essex you were a lot closer to the buzzing London nightlife? Do you find it harder to stay connected with the scene in regards to going to events, record digging etc?
It’s so different down here man, very peaceful and the countryside is beautiful. Not what I’m used to at all so it’s a nice change. It was a needed temporary step to take since becoming a Dad and all that. It’s allowing me to spend a lot more time with the little one and my partner Lucy.
I still make regular trips back to London to see friends and family of course, or if I’ve got a gig or whatever. It’s just I’m not as close to the city as I was before that’s all.
You’re a resident at the prolific London minimal party Art of Dark – how did that relationship begin and what do you like so much about AoD?
Hmm, so I was with Art of Dark basically from the beginning. I joined as a resident from their third party I think it was, back nearly 6 years ago now. Used to play very regularly, and was fortunate to play some amazing parties alongside some great artists.
As with most parties, growth, and reputation understandably welcome differences and changes. I’m happy to see how the party has come along over the years, and I’m just pleased that I played a part in the journey.
Also, what about your relationship with WetYourSelf! – fabric’s Sunday party? How did that blossom? What is it about their ethos that drew you to them?
The first ever time I went to fabric was on a WetYourSelf! night actually, many years ago. I’ve got to know Jacob and Peter well over the years too, and have played for them numerous times. They’re great guys. I’ve had a lot of very helpful Daddy advice from Jacob too as it goes, as he also has a little boy.
I think what they do on a Sunday night at the club is great! They throw some wicked parties there and have done for years now. it’s definitely the best place to close off a fun filled weekend.
Last year you successfully launched your vinyl only label Drifted Records – what influenced you to start your own record label?
It was to create a platform which will allow me to share music I like mainly, both through the label and the podcast series. But it’s also a project, and something I want to nurture and grow.
Your first release from Tommy Vicari Jnr – Suction EP reached number 1 on the Decks.de Buzz Chart, 2 on the Juno Bestsellers Charts and sold out rapidly across European and Tokyo-based record stores – what was your reaction when you found out how successful your first release was? Did you expect it?
No I didn’t expect that at all. I mean Tommy is a magnificent producer and that EP from him was special, but I wasn’t aware it would go as well as it did. I still get regular messages asking for repress (which I will do at some point). I’m happy people like it!
Big up to Tommy for his patience with me too by the way. We spent weeks on end exchanging ideas and making changes just to get the release 100% right.
Why have you chosen to release exclusively on vinyl?
I personally feel that good music can sometimes get a bit lost in the digital world. There are so many forgotten gems that people have buried deep in their iTunes library, but records seem to embed in your memory better I think. It does for me anyway.
Drifted has been on a bit of hiatus recently – why the break and what do you have install for 2017?
Firstly if I’m honest I am quite undecided on a follow-up EP from Tommy’s release. I don’t want to rush something out there just for the sake of it, I’d rather take my time with things and get it right. I also spent a lot of quality time last year just being a Dad after making the move down South.
This year I do actually plan on stepping things up a bit. I’m currently working with a few talented artists for the birth of the Drifted Mid-Flow Series sub-label, which will focus more on the Electronic/Break/Uptempo side of things. Which leaves the parent Drifted label in charge of straight House & Techno.
What are your hopes and dreams for the label?
My aim really is to just consistently release good music through the label and the podcast series. Showcasing talented artists from all over the globe, and forming a solid and stand out discography.
Now back to you… with the arrival of your little baby boy, how do you juggle work, music and family life?
There’s really not enough hours in the day as they say. I’d always rather be spending more time with the little one and with music than I do of course, but it’s not too bad. When I do get locked into music I certainly make up for lost time.
Has becoming a father changed the way you view your career in music and your future plans?
Yes and no. I mean it’s made me more mature as a person and changed my perspective on a lot of things but everything else is the same. The little fella inspires me to succeed for him and I will of course still work towards where I want to be.
You’re a producer yourself, with your own beat-making Soundcloud account – do you have any plans for an official release?
Nothing planned just yet, but I may have something in the pipeline. Hold tight.
Where do you draw inspiration when producing – is it something you plan or do you improvise?
I think for me planning never seems to work. If you’re just not feeling it you’re only going to frustrate yourself. Inspiration and ideas can come from literally anything really. Even just from everyday life. But yeah mostly when listening to music, or being out and surrounded by good music works wonders.
I’m heading back to Sunwaves at the end of the month, and that is somewhere I always come home from feeling freshly inspired.
What are your future plans – do you have anything install for 2017 or what do you hope to achieve this year?
The main thing I want to focus on this year is my production really. I’ve spent years just making beats here and there, and only ever sharing them amongst friends. I’d like to step out of my comfort zone a bit now and actually get something finished.
I’m pretty much just taking things as they come other than that really. Enjoying Daddy-hood, and life down South, as well as working on the label and just generally loving life.