We caught up with the chaps behind stalwarts of Scotland’s modern Dance Music culture, Craigie Knowes. Better known to most for leading the line in terms putting out a distinctive flavour of “attitude” brimming music via their label, but of late, returning to their selecting roots by delivering this sonically to dance-floors near you. Expect talk of Buckfast, fishy speakers, a mini-green-hulk and Trance music as well as a real coming of age tale from two guys that truly live and breathe music. Enter below.
Hello chaps. How are you both?
Max: Good cheers mate
Mitch: Good ta
Right so first and foremost; Craigie Knowes, the name. For those who don’t know, it’s not after a bloke named Craig who knows some things… It’s a place, right?
Max: It’s a place
Mitch: A special place..
Max: Haha, special - that’s one way of putting it..
A special place?
Mitch: Max grew up on Craigie Knowes road and behind his house was a big hill with a forest
Max: And 'The Knowes' or 'Craigie Knowes' is the name of the hill with a mini-forest behind it. As a child to play with bugs and as a teen to drink, smoke and fight
Mitch: And also drink Buckfast; but not me. I got alcohol poisoning from it when 13 so I am now unable to consume it..
Doesn’t sound fun, Mitch?
Mitch: Yeah, dude. Wasn't fun. My veins went bright green like a really small shitty version of the hulk
Max: A pished hulk
I always assumed you were both from Glasgow? It being the dance music hub of Scotland and all..
Mitch: No no, we’re from Perth. East central Scotland, about 50 minutes from Glasgow
Max: I live in Glasgow now and have done for a good few years, Mitch has always been a Perth boy
How was it growing up there?
Mitch: it’s is a nice place to look at but not an awful lot to do other than hill-walk. We have loads of hairdressers and pubs, something like the most pubs per head in UK or close to it
So you’re fine to get a nice trim and a pint, but how did you get in to music? Was there much of a dance music ‘scene’ there?
Max: Get a pint and a nice V-cut more like..
Mitch: Yeah, we kind of started getting in to music that way. Just putting on parties because there was fuck all to do
Max: That’s it, boredom usually results in something.. So we found a pub, rigged up some speakers and our mates midi controller when we were around 16/17. The speakers used to smell like fish when they were used for a few hours!
Mitch: Ah, The Malthouse, which ended up being the busiest place in Perth for around 18 months, until it sadly closed
Amazing! So, how did things evolve for both of you from The Malthouse with a midi controller?
Mitch: Well after The Malthouse, we did a Christmas Eve party at another bar, which sold out
Max: This night used to be amazing though, packed all the time with people our age. It was like an old man's pub six nights a week, then on a Thursday we'd throw these insane parties. It ended up with about 400 people in a 250 capacity club
Mitch: But after that the local nightclub owner who kind of had a monopoly in Perth approached us to do a regular party at an old factory which used to hold massive raves in the 90s which had been shut for years. Then it kind of snowballed from there! Throwing monthly parties with sometimes 1,000 people in a city with 50,000 people as a population
Really interesting this all started out as throwing parties. Did the party series have a name?
Max: Then I got picked up through some luck/friends to be Sub Club's Wednesday night resident around this time too
Sorry to ask Mitch but why where you weren't picked up by Sub Club too? Were you not DJ’ing a duo?
Mitch: I’m more heavily involved in Groovement and Max is better looking
Max: It wasn't really Max and Mitch then really, it always kinda was but we weren't a duo
Mitch: We just had casual sex now and again…
Scotland has always been quite heavily associated with dance music culture. Was this always the way growing up and coming through as DJ’s?
Mitch: A lot of people were coming out of the Indie Rock stage at the time, but we wanted to show people in Perth dance music was fun as well
Max: The indie thing kinda opened our eyes to what lay beyond Perth, going to gigs in different cities and getting fucked up. Then dance music offered the same but a longer version, I think it was always going to happen. More venues, more places and opportunity to get up to no good and laugh about it in the morning, when you'd gotten away with it…
Mitch: Also, my uncle used to DJ and he was always my idol, so I kind of always knew I wanted to at least give it a bash at some point
So, when did you decide you wanted to start putting out records as Craigie Knowes?
Max: I actually ran a label from when I was 18 pressing vinyl, in the ‘Deep house’ era, [ha]. I also knew I wanted to do better, but in hindsight I learnt a hell of a lot! The music isn’t that bad either, it’s terrible but it certainly wasn’t the worst stuff of that era
Mitch: Max did it all off his own back. Not many 18 year olds do that
So the first record for CK was the first ‘War Child Annual Fundraiser’. Quite unusual I suppose for a first record but a really amazing cause! How did that come about?
Max: It was indeed. I was Lying in my bed in Glasgow and just had this idea to do it. I just thought fuck it, let’s try! I reached out to Clone, they got on board to distribute us. Best decision I ever made
Pretty reputable names on there for a first record on a new label too. Lord of the Isles and Move D!
Max: II was passionate as hell about it as it was a totally new project for me. I think they could feel that and took the risk to get involved with something new and someone young
How do you guys go about your releases now? Is it ever reactive or do you have an artist in mind?
Max: A mix of active and reactive. I let Mitch hear my selections for a record as second judgement on almost all of the stuff I want to sign. He usually agree's but I trust his taste and then it means I can throw myself into a release head first with less fear…
Mitch: Generally Max does 99.9% of the label stuff. But I help out now and again
It’s a really original sound you guys put out there. Quite hard hitting stuff! Was your sound a conscious decision?
Mitch: It definitely has its own sound but neither of us are overly great with explaining it. I think when we DJ it is the same and that ties in with the label sound. Once I was drunk and described it as ‘Celestial Club music’!
Max: Things to check; Does is stand out? Is it someone trying to copy the in sound? Will it go off in the club? Can you also listen on headphones and be move?
Mitch: Personally my big thing is I never play anything if it doesn't have attitude
As DJ's and as a label you guys definitely have a strong sense of ‘self’. How do you deal with trends in music and what’s cool?
Max: We'll never be hailed for breaking new ground, but that's not our interest in our label or DJ’ing
Mitch: Stick to your guns. if you think something is shit then it most likely is even if loads of big DJs are playing it
How do you guys go about digging?
Max: I love listening to promos, I'm on a lot of the lists most labels and DJs are on. I hunt on Discogs like everyone else but the decent promo lists I love
Mitch: Soundcloud mixes, Beatport, Bandcamp, Juno, Clone and Rubadub are my main ones. I also ask some close friends who I really respect if there are people I should check out
Who are you guys into label and artist wise at the moment?
Mitch: I’ve been playing a lot of Steven Tang's tracks recently. Nothing overly new but I stumbled upon loads of his stuff I hadn't heard before. I’m also listening to a lot of Dolly and Roza Terenzi too!
Max: Credit 00's, Rat Life records, loving all Marie Davidson's new shit, a lot of Jensen Interceptor's electro is showing a lot of the bandwagon crew how it should be done, eternal respect for Clone and all they do, Dead Man's Chest…..Just a few there..
Mitch: Great thing is you'll never run out of amazing stuff. That’s why it gets on my fucking tits when big DJs play shit tunes to be ironic.. My friends would personally walk into the booth, boot me in the baws and turn the music off if I played a Clubland Classic track!
To draw on that Mitch, is there anything that bugs you in the dance music ‘scene’?
Mitch: The whole ‘lads lads lads’ culture of playing something shit and all going mental does my box in! It’s like spending hours cooking a nice meal and then farting on it! Personally, I would like to introduce people into new stuff and make them feel something special. Like they and the people they are with are part of something not many others are in. That's where the sense of community in dance music comes from….You don't get that by playing Trance
Finally guys, for those who want more Craigie. Any new records and gigs in the works?
Mitch: Gigs in Belfast, Leipzig, Berlin, Inverness, Glasgow and hopefully lots more next year. If Panorama Bar read this then please book us…
Max: Record wise we have The Burrell Connection, Carl Finlow, Posthuman and Eluize coming up next. We also have a new vinyl only 10" sub-label called C-KNOW-EVIL with 2 mean Textasy techno tracks coming before the new year too! And obviously lots more for 2019