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Fresh Kicks 156: Kessler

Rotterdam-via-Belfast rave futurist Kessler records a storming mix for the Fresh Kicks series, and speaks to Niamh O’Connor about finding inspiration during lockdown and in his hometown scene

Kessler has been busy. Over the last 12 months he’s cropped up on multiple online channels from HÖR Radio to Feel My Bicep, and dropped releases via Yellow Island Records, Yin Yang label and Born Sleepy, with plenty more in the pipeline.

“Towards the middle of last year, I had this big burst of inspiration but that kind of dwindled a bit. I was really productive for a four-month period — that was a result of nostalgia for clubs, listening to a lot more music at home and just having more time as well,” explains Kessler, otherwise known as Eddy, over Zoom.

Moving to Rotterdam a month before the Netherlands’ first lockdown in 2020, Eddy threw himself into production. The outcome was ‘Ambivalent’ — a kaleidoscope of dreamy synths, crisp breaks and rumbling bass. He initially envisioned the project as an album but, in the end, felt it wasn’t the right time; Shall Not Fade picked it up as a stacked EP instead. ‘Ambivalent’ highlights the softer sound of Kessler. Facing long periods at home, Eddy took inspiration from the outdoors and the rave scene he missed. “It’s a little cliché, but I was imagining being in a club and tried to put myself back into that zone. I just struck a note that really seemed to work,” he says.

Growing up in Belfast, dance music slipped under Eddy’s radar in his mid-teens. “I was into guitar and rock and metal, but it just didn’t look right because I was this little smick who liked heavy, heavy metal! I also loved hip-hop — my brothers, as well, used to play it, and a lot of R&B too.”

So where did his penchant for jungle, breakbeat and garage come from? “I started going to clubs at around 15, using my brother’s passport. We used to go to Thompsons in Belfast. I guess that’s where I got my first raving bug. They had amazing DJs on there every week and a really good music policy. You’d be spoilt for choice. That’s where a lot of people in Belfast got their rave music education.”

Towards his late teens, Eddy made his way into the club’s green room, where he managed to swing his first proper booking at the venue. “Every week you got to know them [the club residents]. You’d be hearing all this music like, ‘What’s this record?’ and then try to chat your way in to get a couple of sets. Eventually, it worked and I started playing there.”

Coming up over the summer, Eddy’s got an electro-flecked EP out via Holding Hands; his nine-track contribution to Club Glow’s ‘Volume 3’ compilation is a whirlwind of frantic breaks with ethereal undertones; and his remix for Hospital Records’ 25th birthday V/A is a rapturous banger, fitting right in with the imprint’s illustrious history. Kessler is on a roll. 

But it takes discipline to produce a weighty body of material in a little over a year. “I work full-time so I’d be making tunes in the evening. I take a day off sometimes so I can keep my focus, either making music or looking for records — keep grafting,” explains Eddy. “I’m just grateful to have something constant.” 

Listen to Kessler's Fresh Kicks mix below.  

Tracklist: 

Daniel 58 ‘If It’s Dead Now, When Was It Alive?’
Andrea ‘AuxL’
Overmono ‘Catapult’
AceMo ‘R U READY FOR THE…’
Negroni Nails ‘Fast-Test’
Kessler ‘Stacks’
Local Group ‘Watch This Beat’
Nova Cheq ‘NN Hardcore (Nightwave Remix)’
Fringe ‘Feel The Power’
Denham Audio ‘Missing You’
Tim Reaper & Comfort Zone ‘Pacific’
Granul ‘Cypher (VIP)’
L Major ‘Can’t Do It’
Outer Heaven ‘Murder’
Social Engineer ‘Badlands’
Kessler ‘Prisoner’

Want more? Listen to Fresh Kicks mixes from DJ Gigola and Stem

Niamh O'Connor is a freelance writer and founder of Quarantune, which you can follow on Instagram 

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