21 June 2011
What started out as an ‘ambitious dubstep project featuring Selah Sue’ is nowadays taking our country by storm and will sooner or later break through to the rest of the world. With the release of the first single ‘Take It Back’, AKS proves it can perfectly create a large buzz on its own. This summer they’re dropping energetic live shows and DJ sets at major festivals such as Les Ardentes, Tomorrowland, Laundry Day and more to be announced real soon. We caught up with head honcho Wim for an inside look at Addicted Kru Sound.
- by Dimitri Cologne
"We concentrated on bringing quality live performances that would hopefully be perceived as more than a ‘Selah Sue vehicle'."
When did you come up with the idea to launch AKS?
AKS was conceived around 2004, originally being a ragga influenced jungle and drum & bass soundsystem set up in our garage. Back when I was a teenager I used to go to attend a lot of raves such as the ‘It’s A Jungle’ parties in the AB in Brussels. Back then I got caught by the energy and vibes that came along with the genre. Also other styles like reggae and soul had a great influence on our early work. The live bits came a few years later.
Why the transition to dubstep?
We rolled into dubstep because of its obvious link with drum & bass and reggae. After spinning and producing d&b for a while, we were really getting into this new sound called dubstep. The rhythms were fresh, they emphasized different elements and the sound was just big!
A large number of people got know AKS through Selah Sue. Was it somehow difficult to profile yourselves as an act without her standing on the forefront?
At first AKS was mainly a collective of deejays and producers. Then Selah and myself came to the idea of taking it a step further and started building a live environment. She used to be ‘one of the guys’ at that time. As her solo career started to grow it also gave AKS (as a liveact) a decent platform. Obviously the Selah Sue phenomenon was a great jumpstart for us, but from another perspective it also made it difficult to stand out for ourselves. We concentrated on bringing quality live performances that would hopefully be perceived as more than a ‘Selah Sue vehicle’. All of that somehow worked out for us.
Just a few months ago AKS released its first single ‘Give It Back’, a bit surprisingly without Selah Sue but with another talented vocalist, Lola, behind the mic.
Selah’s latest album dropped somewhere in March so we knew her touring schedule would be very intense. And since our summer shows wouldn’t be too attractive without having a singer on stage we started looking for new collaborations. Since our hometown Leuven has a lot of talent to offer, it wasn’t that hard to find a new great voice. The track with Lola started out as an experiment, but it soon became clear that the sound we produced together showed a lot of potential.
So what does this mean for the future? Is Lola replacing Selah Sue?
Right now we’re working on a number of new tracks together with Lola, she really adds an extra level to our productions. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be releasing material together with Selah in the future. We wrote a lot of tracks together and we’re not planning to park on our hard drives forever. We also just finished a remix for Selah Sue so lots more to come with both singers!
Who have been AKS’ musical inspirations? The Prodigy could be a logic choice judging from their high energy performances.
This has always been a very difficult question for me to answer. The Prodigy is indeed a very big inspiration, but actually all music I like has had a major influence on AKS: going from Lauryn Hill and The Wailers over Roni Size and Aphex Twin to current big shot producers like James Blake and Rusko. It doesn’t really matter if it’s Jazz, trash, rap, rock, reggae, funk or soul, we just have an enormous appetite for music.
You sum up a large spectrum of musical inspirations. Doesn’t it bother you then that a large part of the audience sees AKS as a dubstep outfit?
I think we don’t just limit ourselves to a one genre. We bring electronic music in general and not a small part of it.
How far do your ambitions go when you notice that more and more foreign promoters and bloggers are picking up your music?
I hope we can grow musically in the studio and on stage and eventually see a bit of the world… Playing Tokyo for instance would be nice. Well maybe not after the recent events in Japan, but you can catch my drift.
Let’s compare AKS to Wu-Tang Clan for just a second. You give away the impression of being the RZA, the musical backbone that coordinates several different forces. Is that comparable to what’s happening in AKS?
Yes, that is actually very close to the way we work. I try to unite all band members in order to push all of their individual talents to the max. I mostly write the music together with Mattias. More recently Mathijs, our guitar player, participated in the writing process. Of course all members have their input in the studio, good ideas mostly come from many different directions.
And what’s the task setting on stage like?
All individuals in the band fill in a segment during the live show. Lenny occupies our DJ and percussion section, Mattias operates as our front man, Lola sings, Stef plays the saxophone and handles the finances and I control the keys.
AKS became more than just a hobby for you guys. Is it still managable with other things like school or work?
AKS indeed absorbs a truckload of time. I’m currently working at Poppunt, a very enthusiastic organization that supports young and semi professional musicians. This means a lot of overtime in the studio after my working shift. You can say I combine two full time jobs, much to the disgruntlement of my girlfriend. The other band members are also working class heroes and some of them are still in college so I can speak for all of us that AKS sure is more than just a hobby!
We've all seen the footage of that great live session at Stubru which has probably been an important turning point. What else has been vital for AKS' career?
That session has shown a more intimate and accessible side of our work and it has extended our audience big time. Another key moment has been the live show at Pukkelpop last year. The energy of the band and the crowd was just amazing and as it turned out a lot of promotors and bookers were also paying attention to our performance. Another memorable thing was the remix we did for an Icelandic band called Steed Lord. Apparently Laidback Luke played our it in his set at the EDC festival in L.A. last year. We saw on YouTube video’s of how a huge sports arena filled with partyheads blew up on the sounds of AKS!
You're rolling along with good company such as the Forma.T crew and the Beatz & Bleepz agency. All people with ambitious plans.
It’s great having these guys on board! They are all young, very talented and professional in their own field. I love to work with people who have that same drive and mindset as we do. The future looks pretty good, for starters, we’re expecting an awesome festival season: Les Ardentes, Tomorrowland, Feest In Het Park and Laundry Day, just to name a few. After the summer we’re planning new releases and remixes and do a few gigs abroad. And besides all of that we just keep wasting our weekends, that’s for sure!