DJ, producer, and breakbeat aficionado Eddy Kennedy AKA Kessler, made the jump from Belfast to Rotterdam in pursuit of a fresh challenge in 2020. Little did he know that the challenge would be a global pandemic to rock his (and everyone’s) world.
Born and raised in Belfast, Kennedy is known for his club nights Footwork which has seen him curate line-ups within the realm of electro, breaks & bass-driven techno across dance floors in the UK and Europe. Something of a homegrown hero, he has previously performed at AVA, Shine and Twitch in Belfast, held a residency with Manchester-based Limbo Radio as well as releasing high-energy music that tap deep into the traditions of UK bass culture for Belfast’s Born Sleepy record label and a string of heads down EPs on imprints like Shall Not Fade and Club Glow in the past year.
Most recently Kessler has been getting in touch with exploring his new home and what it has to offer, with an EP scheduled to drop on Desert Sound Colony’s eyes down Holding Hands label ahead of his Boiler Room debut at AVA this September, the future is looking bright for Kessler. We caught up with him ahead of his homecoming, he has provided us with a typically bumping mix which presents a window into his musical world. Check out the mix and read the interview below.
Times are strange and challenging. How have you been doing?
Definitely, I’m very glad to see a glimpse of normality approaching. I’ve definitely had my ups and downs over the past year and a half but overall I’m happy with where my head is at now. I’ve learned to just roll with the punches and accept the situation but at the start it was definitely tough, especially with such high expectations before moving country. One thing for sure is I really miss throwing parties, which feels like a lifetime ago now. The pre-party excitement in the empty club setting up equipment and sound checking to the thrill of a packed out sweaty room with everyone on one wavelength.
Tell us about your move to Rotterdam and how is life in a new place?
I often get asked, “Why did you move to Rotterdam?” by a lot of the people here and every time I’ve found myself repeating the same line–“For music, for a change of scenery and because I just wanted to”. That’s still true but I’ve found that what I was really looking for was a new experience and basically throwing myself out of a comfort zone, kind of a clean slate and creating something for myself in an entirely different scenario. Now, a global pandemic wasn’t really the experience i was looking for but it definitely introduced me in to new things, hobbies & people in weird ways. For example, with no gigs in the pipeline and bouncing between jobs I tried out working as a carpenter with some really nice guys and pretty much learned the basics of how to build/renovate a house. I absolutely love it here and I only know what life is like here in coronavirus times.. so it couldn’t get worse right?
What sort of music community do you have around you and how does Rotterdam influence you differently when compared to Belfast?
Rotterdam suffers from a similar issue like any other major city, everyone is a DJ! But I love that. There is a different energy here to Belfast, it’s a lot more progressive and people approach life differently with less judgement. There’s a really great network of artists & producers, promoters, music collectives, labels & record stores like Clone & Pinkman. Spoilt for choice, but I’ve only scratched the surface in over a year. I’ve realised that Rotterdam is really just a big village, everyone knows everyone! Every other week I meet someone with a link to XYZ and. vice versa, it’s quite funny. Creative people all end up in the same bubbles but just like Belfast there’s no shortage of a partying spirit.
You just announced a record on Desert Sound Colony’s Holding Hands imprint. Is this an important milestone for you?
Been a big fan of Holding Hands & DSC for a long time so I was well keen to join the roster of incredible producers when Liam & Jossy (Mitsu) reached out! I think this release is one that will tear up dancefloors when the time comes again and I feel it portrays my variety of mood, style & rhythms quite nicely in one package. You have some electro, UKG, bass & breakbeat with some jungle & techno influences thrown in.
How did you approach doing this mix for AVA?
I never like to put too much thought and planning into a mix. I collect some songs in a playlist that I might play but 90% of the time I just go with the flow and hear songs or ideas in my head, it’s the most natural way for me. Although with most mixes & most other non-club settings including this one, I like to show a lot more variety, it snakes between bass, breakbeat, electro, glitch, jungle, footwork, techno & garage.
Are you excited for your Boiler Room debut at AVA in September?
Beyond words I can imagine. Bucket list tick. It’s gonna be special, I only wish it was 2 hours haha! Also pretty nervous as for a while I’ve put DJing in the background as I focused on production, but I love a good ol’ challenge.
What are your standout AVA moments from over the years
Kink & the samba band has to be in the top 3, what a guy! Bicep in 2017. My first set on the main stage in 2019, was shitting myself but was such a great feeling. Also Phil Kieran crowd surfing mid Boiler Room. Lastly … the afterparties!
Kessler – Vrieselaan
Andrea – Sarec
Nova Cheq – Detached
The Subdermic – All Shapes & Sizes
Overmono – BMW Track
J Wax – I Said
Atrice – FKX82000
Elad Magdasi & Sinfol – Drum Spirit
Skee Mask – CZ3000 Dub
Adam Pits – Azure Crest
Drexciya – Black Sea (Aqualung Version)
Lag – Twitch
D-Nite – Dive
Kessler – Lotus
Samurai Breaks & Private Caller – Power Hour
Kessler – Ard Crew
BroDawg ManDude – Out Ya System (Decent Damage Remix)
Nova Cheq – FUK.GOV.UK
Thugwidow – The Sacrifice
Dip Shim – Yard Stalkers
Nova Cheq – Dopamine Domain
440hz – Shiba
DJ Y – Modern Wank