Interview: Lee K [Circulate/CRSSD]

We get to know one of San Diego's finest selectors and label heads
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For anyone who's ever been to Crssd Festival in San Diego or any FNGRS CRSSD event, you're surely familiar with today's guest. Lee K- producer, DJ, and label head, has become one of the finest talents to come from Southern California, which is a direct result of her on-point DJ sets, and the equally quality releases from her label Circulate. At the most rendition of Crssd, she went back-to-back with another one of our favorites, Sian In the interview below, we not only find out how that came to be, but also how she came to be the rising talent that she is.

lee k 2018 Press Abstract

Firstly, how did you get into dance music? What made you want to pursue being behind the decks?

I think because I listened to a lot of electronically rooted music when I was young - Bizarre Inc, Aphex Twin, Chemical Brothers - as well as a lot of synth-based rock like Orgy, Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, The Prodigy - I was set up to appreciate dance music. DJing came around a bit later after I had started going to parties and actually seeing people DJ in person. It was this overwhelming feeling of being drawn to something and wanting to do it myself. I had always loved burning mix tapes and CDs for friends and being in control of the music in whatever environment I was in, car or house or otherwise - so I would say I was naturally inclined to take an interest.

For years you have been one of San Diego’s most acclaimed curators of music, how did you establish yourself in the scene?

I won't claim that title myself, but tracing my involvement back starts with going out to local parties a lot as a teenager. Once I had the realization that I could experience electronic music in person, with other people who had similar interests, it became a focal point in my life. I would save all of my paychecks for shows, and once I had a fake ID, it's all I wanted to do in my free time. It wasn't even so much about the partying as it was listening to the music and watching the DJs work. A few years later when I started to DJ in my free time, the tone of my involvement started to shift and eventually I was able to take part and start to contribute in my own way. 

How did your recent b2b with Sian at CRSSD Festival come about? How did the set go?

Graham and I met a few years ago through an old friend of mine who was managing him at the time. We were playing a show together one night and towards the end of his set we ended up going back to back for awhile - it worked out nicely and we've done it a few times since. We had the opportunity to do it for CRSSD this Fall and jumped at it. The set was really fun and the crowd seemed to enjoy it - we recorded it so it will likely go up at some point. 

Can you tell us about your upcoming EP on Justin James’ label Refused?

I have a three-track EP "Wet Behind The Ears" coming out on Refused later this year. I met Justin a few years back when we were both playing a festival in San Bernardino and have always admired his music as well as been a fan of the label, so it's a big honor for me.

As a label boss yourself, what projects are you most excited for?

The next release will be from German artist Christian Hornbostel. I've been playing his music out for a while now, and it's always nice when you get a demo in your inbox that you know is likely to be a good fit. It's a two-track EP and will be coming out at the end of October. 

How has your personal transition from purely curating to production and creating your own music gone?

It's definitely been a transition. Production has been something I've been working on for a few years now, but naturally, there is a big learning curve, and it's taken me a while to narrow in on what my "sound" is and how to achieve it in a graceful way. It'll be a constant process - I still learn so much every day - but it is nice to get to the point where you are sending your music out to labels, getting feedback, and of course hopefully getting signed. 

Where do you see the Lee K project in a year? 3 years? 5?

This is a great question, one that I'm not sure I know how to answer. I'm working on a few other EPs that will be wrapped by end of the year, as well as a collaboration outside of the music space that will probably come to fruition early next year. I'm also dabbling with the idea of a live set and starting to work within Ableton in a new way for me, so we'll see where that goes...!

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