Bringing sleuths and ravers together since 2018...
Bringing sleuths and ravers together since 2018: Brighton duo Kleu are in the midst of an exhilarating journey right now.
Both flexing previous aliases and missions in the game, Kleu is the sound of Kirk Mills (AKA Arcane) and David Webster (AKA Junior Red) putting everything they’ve achieved so far, doubling down on their chops and sonic skills and hitting hard across the full subgenre spectrum.
Since emerging with their first Kleu release on Audioporn just over four years ago, the pair have released beats on a vast array of respected labels from Born On Road to DNB Allstars to Jungle Cakes, a label they recently scored a Beatport number one with their Navigator-fronted Smoking Love.
Another label they’ve been frequenting a lot in recent times is Grand Theft Audio with a series of collaborations and originals. Following their pyxis collab Solaris in January are Ramo (with AKAS and G3MC) and 10 Steps (with GTA bosses Sola). More is expected to land very soon.
Last spotted on 1 More Thing with an exclusive EP for our Patreon supporters, Grand Theft Audio did the honours and linked us up with Kleu for this killer mix and an interview that brings all ravers, sleuths and everyone else up to speed. Get to know!
You’re on a bit of a release roll with Grant Theft Audio at the moment! It started with the Pyxis collab a few months ago…
Kirk: Yeah that’s right. Now we’ve Ramo with G3MC and AKAS and 10 Steps with the Sola boys themselves.
Sick. Solaris with pyxis was a really interesting tune and something very different from all involved!
Kirk: We love all styles of D&B but don’t make as much of the deeper stuff because we want to be able to play anything we make to dancefloors.
Junior Red: I think pyxis wanted to make something a bit heavier herself so we met in the middle of our sounds. It was a really fun track to make and we’ve known her for years. She does our publishing.
How did you link with Sola anyway? Through doing shows in Manchester?
Junior Red: Nah, just the classic social media thing. We’d exchanged a few messages here and there and James approached us at one point and asked if we had anything we’d like to release on the label. He suggested that we send him any tunes of ours which were a bit different or didn’t fit on other labels we work with. We’re always sitting a stack of stuff that’s unfinished so we showed him a few bits, we get on well with him and everyone at the label so it developed from there. It’s become a second home to us in a way.
You seem to have a few homes!
Junior Red: We love collaborating with people and building bridges. That’s the beauty of this scene; the people you meet along the way and the links you make. That’s what it’s all about really isn’t it?
Kirk: And we do love it all so we get along with everyone. We play different types of gigs from old school to jump up to jungle and I think that helps.
Yeah you’re all over every corner of the scene! You just got back from the Jungle In The Dam event, right?
Kirk: Still recovering now! It was great and so good to see everybody.
What’s been your highlight of 2023 so far?
Kirk: Printworks was amazing wasn’t it?
Junior Red: Yeah, and getting the number one on Beatport as well. Smoking Love on Jungle Cakes was at number one for a week or two. That was a good way to start the year!
Epic way to the start the year. You guys have been smashing it. I’d say you’re still a pretty new act in a way aren’t you?
Junior Red: Yeah we still feel like it’s early days for us, too. We’re still on the learning curve and developing as artists so yeah, there’s still so much we want to do and achieve.
Give us your back stories because you’re not the usual age to be breaking through if you don’t mind me saying!
Kirk: Yeah we won’t win any best newcomer awards, put it that way!
Haha. So what’s the story? What was life pre-Kleu? David, you’ve been an established MC, right?
Junior Red: Yeah but it was almost entirely overseas with Aphrodite. I was his MC for a few years, touring the world. So I was successful in that sense but back here in the UK my profile was almost non-existent because I was always on the road in strange hotels and clubs in the maddest places around the world.
Yeah! Aphrodite has a reputation for taking D&B to countries and places it’s never been to before.
Junior Red: Oh man he’s so busy. I did about half of his gigs during that time and I never stopped. He was doing twice that. Every single weekend, three or four different countries, on the road constantly. So I earned my stripes working with him but I needed to come off that constant grind so it’s was either hang up the mic and get a more conventional job or see what I could do in the UK. Then I met Kirk and we thought we’d give it a go. Do it properly, work it like a 9-5 every day, learn to produce and see how far we could take it. Like I said, we’re still learning now and during lockdown we learnt so much.
Junior Red: Yeah big up YouTube! So yeah it’s turned out well so far. The trajectory has been mental.
Amazing. Kirk how about you?
Kirk: I was DJing just around here locally in Brighton, and had a 9-5. I started making tunes, went to Rampage with Jayline and the Multifunction guys and it was amazing, it blew my mind. I came back, quit my job, started making music and met David around the same time.
Inspiring! I think appreciation levels are different when things take off when you’re older and worked other jobs.
Both: Yeah definitely!
Was there a moment when you thought, ‘Hang on this has got legs. We could get a number one on beatport one day if we keep this up!’
Kirk: I think our first release was one of the biggest moments for me. It was on Audioporn which is a great label and Shimon is someone I’ve looked up to for years so that was a massive moment.
Junior Red: For me the release on Born On Road was a moment. We did a show with them in Brighton and Skibadee was MCing and that track just went off. There was a big rewind moment and that was just… Yeah. Wow.
Go on! I know Brighton On The Beach just after lockdown was a big moment and a career highlight for you guys too, right?
Kirk: I was going to say that one as well actually
Junior Red: Me too!
Kirk: It was the first weekend back and the vibe was unreal. Everyone was having it. You could play anything and people would kick off. The energy levels were unreal. I got goosebumps thinking about it now.
Junior Red: Same here. That was the best gig of my life without a doubt.
The vibes were incredible that weekend weren’t they?
Junior Red: Unreal. Absolutely unreal.
How have you found things since then? It’s not been plain sailing has it?
Junior Red: Yeah there was a bit of a drop off and the current cost of living situation has added an extra challenge.
Kirk: It’s still popping off at gigs, though! It might not be sold out everywhere but people are still turning up and loving it.
I’m loving the fact you guys treat this like a 9-5 and are a very professionally focused and dedicated to the Kleu mission…
Kirk: Yeah that’s been the intention since day one hasn’t it? It’s not often you get a chance to just focus on doing what you want to do so we’ve got to run with it as far as we can. Every now and again I do a day’s work plastering and remember much I hated it. You can’t even compare it to something like this where we’re working with a mate, doing what we love and working with loads of other people we really rate and respect and vibe off.
You clearly vibe off collaborations. As a duo yourselves but also with the recent Grand Theft Audio releases and collabs with the likes of Deekline and Ed Solo, Navigator, A Little Sound, Something Something. The list goes on! What’s the secret to a good collab?
Junior Red: I think sharing the same vision and having a strong idea of where you want to go with the project.
Kirk: Have an open mind as well.
Junior Red: Yeah that’s really true. Have an open mind and be willing to compromise and not have everything your own way.
Kirk: I like linking with people in the studio as well. I think you get a much better vibe that way then doing it over the internet.
Junior Red: The best bit of advice I ever got was ‘leave your ego at the door or it will get in the way’.
Totally! So tell us about these collabs…
Kirk: So with Ramo, AKAS sent us over some bits and that was our favourite so we worked on that. Then G3 came over to do the vocals. He’s a local lad and does loads of bits on Rough Tempo.
Junior Red: Keep your eye on G3. He’s got a really sick, clean style that worked really well on the track and he’s coming up on lots of shows right now. We love working with him.
Sick. And you’ve got 10 Steps with Sola…
Junior Red: Yeah we were looking for a double A-side and I ended up starting 10 Steps. I sent it over to the Sola lads and it came together really quickly. We turned it around, tidied it up and there you have it. I’m really happy with that track.
You guys and Sola are very similar kindred spirits in a way, then? You both love everything…
Junior Red: They’re kinda like the northern version of us! It’s a good fit.
There’s another single coming up on Grand Theft Audio, too, right?
Junior Red: Yeah, Crush. When he said about having tracks that might not fit on a label that we work with, that track instantly sprang to mind. It’s a favourite of ours, it’s been in reserve ready to send out and when they hit us up it came to mind instantly.
Kirk: It’s a strange one. It’s very different to what we usually do and it’s not a track that we play all the time but when we do it goes off like crazy every time. Your face when I first dropped it was like ‘what the hell just happened?’
Junior Red: Oh man, it went right off! When we started that track it was a homage to Bukem with the high, clean 808s. It’s been a big tune for us, we can’t wait to get it out there.
Wicked. What else is coming up?
Kirk: We’ve got a release of Herve which has just dropped on Hardcore Energy.
Junior Red: We’ve got some stuff with Tiny K in the works and also an amazing singer called Leanne Louise who we’ve got some right gems in the works at the moment too. Loads going on.
I imagine you’ve got festival bangers on your mind with the summer coming up?
Junior Red: Definitely. We’re exploring the dancefloor avenue a lot more this year, too.
Can we hear any of this in the mix?
Kirk: You’ll hear a bit of everything! Lots of new bits, lots of specials.
What makes a mix for you?
Junior Red: We’re on the road a lot so we listen to a lot of mixes while we’re driving to shows. A good cohesive mix, tight mixing, sick drops.
Kirk: And tunes we’ve not heard!
Junior Red: Yeah that’s really important as it goes. Finding fresh music will always be a big inspiration for both of us…
Would you ever consider launching your own label?
Junior Red: It’s something we’d love to do in the future for sure!
Kirk: Right now we’re really enjoying working with big labels and developing our reputation but yeah maybe in the future…