“I was on warm up duties when they were playing for Fly Club in Edinburgh; I gave them a CD with tracks at the after-party and they got in touch the next day asking to sign my debut EP!” Describing the night that his passion became a career, Theo Kottis is understandably grateful when he talks about Jaymo and Andy George, the Moda Black moguls who signed Theo’s stirring, almost celestial debut ‘Waiting Game’. “We got chatting and hit it off over a few pints - they seemed really interested in me and very keen to hear more” he continues. “Their support helped get my music the break it needed.”
With a further two EPs on Moda Black as well as a recent release on Anjunadeep and remixes for Vaults and Mia Dora, the Edinburgh-based producer has certainly fulfilled his potential, notching up gigs everywhere from The Button Factory to Barcelona, while also holding down a residency at his native city’s Nightvision. “Edinburgh’s scene is gaining more recognition, and deservedly so!” he says of his hometown. “There’s a lot more promoters out there who are booking brilliant acts and many local DJs have now started producing – it helps attract audiences from all over the UK.”
Boost over the M8 to Glasgow and Theo also has a residency at the city’s world-famous Sub Club, where he’ll be joining Ben Pearce and Jaymo & Andy George for a Moda Black showcase this Thursday. “There’s been too many good nights in the Subbie!” exclaims Theo. With a burgeoning reputation for delivering emotive, captivating DJ sets and some high profile releases in the pipeline, we reckon “good nights” at the Subbie are par for the course.
Listen to Theo’s track ‘Into The Wild’ and mix for Anjunadeep below, and check out our full interview in which we talk more about how he got his break, his admiration for Moda Black and why Edinburgh is becoming a real capital for dance music:
SynthGlasgow: You claimed your first release on Moda Black in 2014 which made a big impression with a wide range of DJs; how did you hook up with Jaymo & Andy George and what was their initial reaction to ‘Waiting Game’ when they heard it?
Theo Kottis: I was on warm up duties when they were playing for Fly Club in Edinburgh; we got chatting and hit it off over a few pints - they seemed really interested in me and very keen to hear more. I gave them a CD with tracks at the after party and they got in touch the next day asking to sign my debut EP! Their support helped get my music the break it needed.
SG: How long had you been working on production before you arrived at a sound which you were happy with? And who or what would you describe as the influences on that journey?
Theo: I started producing when I was younger, experimenting for fun around 7 years ago, but only started taking it seriously 3 years ago. I feel like you need a good year or two to educate yourself about production techniques before you can dedicate your time to writing full tracks. It’s a long process with lots of reading involved, but that knowledge is so valuable - once you get past that stage the real fun begins!
My musical influences are vast. I really enjoy that melodic ambient sound that artists like Brian Eno, Pink Floyd and Tame Impala have. Spending time listening to genres other than disco and house has been helpful for discovering new sounds. Travelling has always been a great source of inspiration for me and I lived in Ibiza for a few months in 2013. Seeing Dixon on the DC10 terrace; that’s when my obsession with writing music begun. The All Day I Dream label and parties ran by Lee Burridge & Matthew Dekay have also been a huge influence on my sound.
SG: Moda Black has been responsible for some of our favourite releases of the last few years; what do you admire about the label and the way Jaymo and Andy have developed it?
Theo: I love Moda Black's approach to combining the known and those who are starting out - they release music from well established producers on their compilation series but give newer talent the opportunity to release full EPs with them. They did that with me and are always scoping potentials to do it again; the newest producer to join our gang is Zeke Africa.
Andy and Jay are entrepreneurial and innovative - always trying to develop the label as a brand. Their loyalty to their signed artists is really cool - they take us on tour at the Moda Black events and at their own Lost Village Festival.
SG: Some would argue that Glasgow often over-shadows Edinburgh in terms of parties and electronic music, but there’s always been good stuff going on in the capital. How would you rate it in 2016?
Theo: I am always impressed and grateful for the Glasgow music scene, but while it might dominate just now, the scene in Edinburgh is constantly developing and maturing; it’s great to be a part of that and I have high hopes that one day it will rival Glasgow’s!
Edinburgh’s scene is gaining more recognition, deservedly so! There’s a lot more promoters out there who are booking brilliant acts and many local DJs have now started producing – it helps attract audiences from all over the UK. I’m really excited by all the local talent in this city; I can sense a lot of high quality music will be released in the next few years.
SG: Radio 1 and Pete Tong in particular have supported you since you made your production debut. Now that the ball is rolling, do you feel any pressure to stay part of that more exposed, visible spectrum of dance music?
Theo: Not at all, I’ve never gone into the studio thinking I must write something to be played on the radio. My music adapts depending on the current mood I’m in when writing. I think it's probably because of that that Pete has become a fan and has supported all of my releases - something I'm very grateful for!
SG: You’ve played the Sub Club numerous times and you’ll of course be joining Moda Black for a showcase there this week. What would you describe as your most memorable night at the Subbie (from behind the booth or on the dancefloor)?
Theo: There’s been too many good nights in the Subbie! One of the most memorable was playing with Nicolas Jarr - it was an electric crowd and a night when my set flowed. You can listen back to my set below:
A few nights spring to mind where I wasn't behind the decks - Sensu with DJ Koze in 2014 stands out! It was a mate's birthday so about 40 troops from Edinburgh made the trip through - good company and great music!
SG: You’ve just dropped a new track, ‘Into The Wild’ on Anjunadeep; can you let us in on any other releases you have planned?
Theo: I’ve just released a remix for Samuel L Session on Nic Fancuilli’s Saved Records and remixed Mia Dora on their own label, Posterboy Records. Watch out for a track I remixed for Lane 8 on Anjunadeep and an original with my mate Izzy Demzky, out on Moda Black's Volume 4 compilation, plus my fourth EP with Moda Black.
I’ve been working every day in the studio so I have a lot of music ready; release dates and contracts aren’t signed yet so I can’t say much. Keep an eye out for my track ‘Sixth Degree’ with vocals from Wayne Tennant - really happy with this one!
Theo Kottis joins Ben Pearce and Jaymo & Andy George for a Moda Black showcase at the Sub Club this Thursday (10th March). Advance tickets are available from Resident Advisor for £10. Theo Kottis ‘Into The Wild’ is out now via Anjunadeep and his remix of Mia Dora’s ‘Made Frames’ is also out now via Posterboy Records.