Stephen Kirkwood – Exclusive Interview

A soundproofed attic of an innocuous industrial unit in the town of Dumbarton, Scotland, hides a secret.

I am seated in the studio of Stephen Kirkwood, a room where his globally received trance music and latest hits are produced.

Across his desk lies an assortment of hardware synths and drum machines, an iMac dominates the centre, straddled by huge Monkey Banana speakers on each side.

“I started up with the most basic Numark 1625 decks, got them for Christmas, had about three or four vinyl,” he said.

Behind him the current industry-standard Nexus setup, costing a couple of extra zeroes, blinks its lights, highlighting the progression of time.

“I used to go to 23rd Precinct – who is now my publisher actually – to get vinyl.

“Back then it was mostly passion that carried me through.”

At the time Stephen was saving up money from his trade on building sites to get a laptop and Ableton.

Before Ableton, he had used Acid Pro “on a big…massive PC, for making edits and mashups in high school.”

Since then, he has been climbing up the ladder and seeing his tracks rank top spots on Beatport in his styles.

Alongside relentless production of tracks, Stephen has been running SKapade Studios, a business and social enterprise designed to inspire and teach people to become successful in the music industry.

“SKapade is a creative hub, it started small as any business does, and due to the nature of what I do as a DJ and music producer, it started to stretch internationally.

“We deliver programs and workshops across Scotland with different organisations and schools.”

I felt that Stephen believed SKapade had helped more than just his clients, so I pushed him more in-depth.

“You know, the number of hours I’ve spent in the studio helping other people, it clocks in as my own hours as a producer.

“It’s more than that though, on the other side, the education side, helping others who are less fortunate is a gratifying thing, and it puts a lot of things into perspective.”

The past couple of months for Stephen have been especially massive with one of his collaborations kicking off across the dance music world.

If you follow the scene, the likelihood is that you’ll have heard Stephen Kirkwood and Lindsay Green’s edit of a classic CJ Bolland track, Camargue.

What jumps out is how perfectly they managed to get it through the mixer of one of the hottest DJs out there.

It turns out that Denis Sulta was playing in a local club and the song was dropped just before he started his set.

They’d planned that move to get him to hear it, alongside leaving a copy of the track waiting in his email inbox in case he liked it.

Things could only get better from there, Sulta loved it and all of a sudden Stephen was getting promising notifications.

“It’s been a success for me and Lindsay, and we’ve been phoning each other excited because of the amount of news that came from it.

“Whether it was Carl Cox playing it at Ibiza Resistance closing party, or Denis Sulta playing it at BBC Radio 1, to it getting onto the Mixmag front cover.

“It’s been backward and forward of sharing the news between us.”

What is so mesmerising about their track (besides the anthemic riff) is that it isn’t even officially released yet, but it has already taken the scene by storm.

“People keep commenting on the YouTube videos [of big name DJs] asking what track was playing here. Everyone wants to know our one!”

Stephen first met Lindsay by accident around ten years ago in a London airport.

He was down visiting a fellow producer while Lindsay happened to be there for a DJing course.

“We just heard Scottish accents and got talking,” Stephen laughed.

As it turned out, they had mutual friends and kept in touch over the years, each following their own paths in their respective genres.

Since then Lindsay has blown up in the Scottish techno scene as one half of the act Co-Accused, and recently played Riverside Festival in Glasgow.

“Lindsay started coming to the studio to hone her skills in the studio with me and we developed an amazing friendship and partnership in the studio.

“That partnership has created four or five great tracks.”

This comes as no surprise to me, having seen them both discuss music together, planning all the marketing and promotion with razor sharp focus.

“Sharing the success is great, two heads are better than one in the studio.

“Obviously your own achievements are fantastic as well – I’ve had some big tracks myself, within the genres.

“I don’t know it they’ll be as big as Camargue, but we’ll certainly see.

“That’s certainly more mainstream success, and it definitely puts some eyes on the studio as a whole.”

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