Clown’s assistant, trifle tester, bingo caller, a machinist making fireplaces… These are just four of the many jobs Martin Reeves slogged to save sheckles for his first Technics.
The clown job was fun. The trifle testing job was tasty. Bingo calling was a warped look into the world of an MC but without the music.
As for his machine job? Not so good… During a red-eyed overtime shift Martin suffered the every aspiring turntablist’s worse nightmare: he sawed off the tips of his fingers on his left hand.
These are the breaks: Years of practicing, winning local competitions and in the running for the UK DMC qualifiers, years of running his own breakdancing events, years of stalking boot sales for rare breaks, living and breathing beat culture… Martin’s dreams were dashed before Krafty Kuts was a conceptual apple in his eye.
Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending. He invested his compensation in two record stores, Instant Vibes in Worthing and Happy Vibes in Brighton. Established during the peak of 12” fever, both brand names still typify Martin’s personality and approach to this day. Business developed as quickly as his fingers and turntable tricks were recovering and his studio skills were sharpening. Happy Vibes became a phenomenon; a crucial hub of Brighton’s big beat culture, it became a source of the scene’s many samples and soundtracks and was regularly frequented by the town’s proud range of musicians and producers. It wasn’t rare to see Paul Weller or Fatboy Slim pop by for wax chats… And it wasn’t rare to see Martin sharing and swapping dubs and ideas with his customers who would soon become friends.
Friends like long-standing collaborator A Skillz and long-term business partner Lloyd Skool Of Thought with whom he established the legendary Supercharged, one of the most consistent and influential breakbeat events and labels throughout the two-thousand-and-zeroes, renowned for celebrating the most exciting names in all shades of bass music. Krafty and Lloyd also set up Against The Grain. One of UK bass music’s most influential imprints, Against The Grain blessed the world with many funk bruisers including The Freestyler’s album Raw As F**K and their worldwide hit Push Up and Krafty Kuts and Tim Deluxe’s DJ Mag award-winning Bass Phenomenon. Against The Grain were also one of the earliest labels to embrace smart phone technology to create a groundbreaking creative DJ app that allowed DJs to carry a bounty of FX tools and MC hype calls in their pockets. It has since been utilised and sampled by DJs in every genre from EDM to drum & bass.
Fatboy Slim was another crucial Happy Vibes connection: he signed Krafty Kuts’ debut EP to Southern Fried and put him on Ministry Of Sound’s radar. They instantly snapped him up for their now legendary FSUK imprint. These formative releases would lead to a wealth of productions that have been supported from artists across the scene and have been licenced to soundtrack everything from Master Chef to Sky Sports to Guy Ritchie movie Mean Machine to Coca Cola commercials.
Over the years he’s given us two critically acclaimed, genre-smelting, Breakspoll award-winning solo albums (2006’s Freakshow and 2012’s Let’s Ride) and one legendary hip-hop/funk homage album Tricka Technology with A Skillz. He’s collaborated with the likes Kurtist Blow, Jungle Brothers, Freddy Fresh and Dr Luke and given us countless EPs and remixes on myriad labels from OWSLA to AudioPorn, Finger Lickin’ to Skint, Fort Knox to 18th Street Lounge Music.
Currently working on his third solo album (set for release early 2016) Krafty Kuts has also instigated the Wicked City project with Pete Erb N Dub, Skope, Dynamite MC and Steve Barton. A live band dedicated to ageless funk, Wicked City made their debut at the sold out 1700 capacity Brixton Electric, they’ve recorded in the Abbey Road Studios and enjoyed numerous uploads on leading bass tastemaker channel UKF.
All this and we haven’t even covered Krafty Kut’s life as a DJ. Famed for his inventive combos and wily technical chops, Krafty’s sets smack of a man addicted to funk in all its forms and have won countless awards. His Slam The Breaks series and Mixmag’s Instant Party 2001 covermount CD are especially of note as they coining breakbeat’s core spirit of melting down sounds, styles and flavours and set the blueprint for the bass phenomenon that was to soundtrack the 21st century.
They also catapulted Krafty from the UK circuit to a world tour that’s never really stopped. From Rocking The Daisies in South Africa to Electric Castle in Romania by way of Glastonbury, Bestival and Australia’s biggest music festivals Breakfast, Big Day Out (to over 40,000 people alongside Rage Against The Machine and Bjork) and Summadayze (to over 25,000 straight after Groove Armada). He’s also played unique events such as the Chinese Grand Prix and Spotify’s launch party and is resident at Dubai’s Zero Gravity. Krafty Kuts has also hosted and sold-out events in Fabric, Matter, Cable and Brixton Electric where he’s recruited friends such as Grand Master Flash, Z Trip, Thievery Corporation, KOAN Sound and Big Gigantic. In short, Krafty’s showman skills have remained as in demand as they were at the turn of the century.
This is largely down to his ability to properly entertain, pay attention to detail and a dust his knuckles in his bottomless crates. Just as likely to play Parliament as he is Plump DJs, Krafty’s party knowhow and reputation for digging deep and catering for music lovers of many distinctions has ensured broad and loyal following the world over. And when he’s not playing in their town, they know he’ll be delivering another mix compilation such as his Fabriclive 34 mix, his curve-balling Back To Mine mix or one of his now-legendary podcasts.
Clocking in at over a million downloads since launching in 2014, Krafty Kuts’ golden era mixes represent everything you’ve read so far: his passion for the beats, his lifelong studying and collecting, his deck gymnastics. Each Golden Era mix acts as comprehensive schooling in a genre, curating seminal classics and underground gems and tailored with pimp-tight character. Complete with interviews with key artists in the genre he’s celebrating, they’re not just DJ mixes, they’re documents that take a month of research, compiling, editing and designing new routines.
What’s more, they’re documents that remind us that Krafty Kuts is a DJ you can trust: A DJ who’s still inspired by blowing people away with blue sky musical dot-joining through decades of dancefloor heritage and intense dexterity. A DJ who doesn’t rely on the big hits or over the top theatrics, and truly understands the true nature of all parties large or small… A DJ who has never lost his passion since he first took on all those crazy jobs to save up for his first Technics.