Not many people in the US will have heard of Exit Festival. It’s tucked away in central European Serbia, in a little place called Novi Sad. The festival itself actually takes place in the Petrovaradin Fortress, which is over 300 years old. But for years, Exit Festival has brought the biggest names in EDM to grace the stages and this year is no different.
The first day of the festival kicked off today and goes through the weekend. Making their way to the decks this year are a large contingent of house and bass producers including Gorgon City, Jaguar Skills, My Nu Leng, Pretty Lights, Sub Focus and TC. UKF is holding their own at the massive event, as well. According to a press release, “Representing the rude state of health electronic music is enjoying right now, the line-up UKF and EXIT have curated explores every inch of today’s biggest and best. From chart-smashers to underground pioneers, each corner of the dance is delivered with both clarity and consistency. Between 1am and sunrise every night from Thursday July 10 to Sunday July 13, the Petrovardian fortress walls will rumble and shake at the hands of the best contemporary bass talents out there.”
Also along for the ride are UK duo Koven, made up of drummer/producer Max Rowat & vocalist Katie Boyle. I was able to catch them before they headed to EXIT for a little Q&A session.
You released ‘Wake You Up’ three years ago. How have things changed for you since then?
Max: At the time ‘Wake You Up’ was written, I had only really just delved into music software and creating electronic dance music. It was only just a play around to see what sounds I could come up with. We even recorded the vocals for ‘Wake You Up’ on the iMacs built in microphone, so to see the response it got was a big shock. Since then I’ve been working on writing proper songs and working on getting the perfect blend of live instruments and electronic synths.
Koven was featured for a guest mix on Going Quantum’s podcast in January ’13. How did you get in contact with GQ about doing a guest mix, or did he find you?
Our management are on good terms with the guys at Going Quantum.
Your sound has a very organic feel to it. What are your favorite plug ins to use to achieve that unique sound?
Max: I use a lot ‘Kontakt’ libraries with real instrument samples loaded into them. I also love to layer each track with either a room ambience with the odd chair squeak, or just a bit of a gentle hiss throughout the whole song. I’m not fond of there just being a sound without any backdrop behind it, if you will.
I’m not sure you’re aware, but there’s another producer going by Kove who’s starting to make waves right now. Have you experienced any confusion from people confusing the two of you?
Yeah, Kove is a fantastic producer, absolutely killing it at the moment. We’ve met him a few times and we’ve joked around that we should do a ‘Koven & Kove collab’. There have been a couple of embarrassing occasions.
Max: This one girl asked if I was ‘Koven’ and if she could have a picture with me. After the picture she said “I listen to your song ‘Searching’ every single day”. I unfortunately didn’t have it in me to correct her. I just made sure I avoided her all night.
Who do you think is having the best 2014 so far?
Possibly the artist we were just talking about, Kove, he’s smashing ‘dance music’ in general at the moment. Another is our good friend Joe Ford, 2014 has been a fantastic year so far for him and has his debut EP out soon on Shogun Audio. Also another good mate Memtrix has his new EP soon, so expect that the rest of 2014 will be fantastic for him as well. Insane stuff, haven’t heard anything like it, so keep an eye out.
Do you prefer playing in smaller, more intimate venues or the larger festivals?
We don’t really have a preference, as all shows are good in their own way. You get the bigger atmosphere / spectacle playing to big crowds which brings its own buzz. Being a drummer and Katie having been a vocalist before Koven, we’re both used to playing lots of gigs in smaller venues and still play them now as these shows are equally as important to us as we can actually see and properly engage with our fans rather than being a little dot in the distance.
Are you looking forward to playing the UKF takeover at Exit Festival?
Cannot wait. It won’t really sink in till we get there. It’s very surreal that we have the opportunity to play our songs to that amount of people.
Which countries that you’ve been to have the best food and drink?
Poland has fantastic food. Had these huge skewers with all kinds of meat on it. Also the beer is top notch.
It seems like someone is always saying that “dubstep is dying,” yet we constantly see new releases coming out. If you had to respond to someone like that, what would you say?
Max: Firstly I’d instantly tell them to stop using the word ‘dying’. Secondly, I’d let them know that there a lot of areas in ‘dubstep’ which are still yet to be explored. I think everyone has just seen this one narrow branch of what they think ‘dubstep’ is, and have just exhausted it.
I absolute love the track ‘Whoopi’s Back In The Habit’. How did you come up with that insane bass sound, and how did you come up with the equally hilarious track title?
Max: Thank you. To be honest, I literally have no idea. I wish I could give you this detailed description of what I did, but unfortunately it was just an accident. Again, it was around the same time as ‘Wake You Up’, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I believe I just started off with a sound in Sylenth, and then gradually added about 6 different distortion plug-ins gently effecting different frequencies.
How do you feel that giving tracks away for free has impacted your popularity?
Hugely. A lot of people aren’t a fan of liking a Facebook page or giving an email address for a free download, but it has helped dramatically.