Interview by Tiffany Lam
Summer has finally started to kick in, and if you’re still not feeling it with this bipolar Canadian weather, SNBRN can help you out. This LA-based deep house producer / DJ has been picking up quite a bit of acclaim over the last couple years, notably for his unique remixes and his recent original release, ‘Raindrops’.
On a late April Saturday night in Toronto, with classical melodies from the hotel lounge pianist fading in the background, we sat down for a chat with SNBRN just before his Toronto debut show at the Hoxton. In this interview, Kevin Chapman shares the backstory of his SNBRN identity, exciting collaborations and future releases, and how he kind of loves Bieber. Check it out below!
How did everything start for you – the DJing and producing?
I started producing first when I was 16-17 years old, and then slowly got more into the DJ side in my later teens. But then I went to school and really developed production; the DJ stuff just came along with it.
So I guess you’ve known for a pretty long time this was the career path you wanted to take.
Yeah it’s been a long run, I’ve had a lot of different aliases and finally found a project that I absolutely love and stick by. It’s been fantastic.
What are the origins of your current project name SNBRN?
Well, I do tend to get sunburnt a lot. There’s a little help from an ex-girlfriend and then also from LED who helped with the name and removing the vowels. I was starting two aliases at the same time and this was just a side project thing that I picked up and it just took a mind of its own and developed into this whole SoCal brand.
How would you describe your current sound, in less than 5 words?
Funk, Deep, Indie, Nu Disco. It’s very house-driven, but at the same time there’s elements of deep and the mainstream pop. It’s just a giant mutt of genres I guess.
Your music is often referred to as “sunset house”. Do you vibe with this?
Oh, 100%. My manager accidentally came up with it and it just kind of fit. We were like, “how do we describe this, what do we call it?” It’s not deep house, it’s not Nu Disco… It’s 4pm-5pm summer sunset on the beach with all your friends kind of music. It’s that song watching the sun set.
Do you find living and growing up in LA influences or played a significant role in creating your sound?
Absolutely. I’m a huge west coast hip-hop fan and that has influenced my sound tremendously, I’ve done so many remixes of hip-hop artists. Also just being in LA and close to the music scene, I’ve gotten to see the forefront of more of the underground stuff over the past few years.
How is it like working directly with vocalists?
It’s absolutely incredible. There’s a couple different ways it happens. Sometimes I’ll have a whole piece that I’ll need vocals on and sit down with them, or we’ll go in the studio together and start something from scratch. Every project, every time you work with a vocalist, it’s a whole different experience you could say. It’s really special making something from scratch with somebody versus just sending a song out and they send it back. It’s just a good mentality. Music was meant to be made together and when you have all the people in the room that are working on the song, it’s just a different vibe and mentality and energy level that you don’t get alone.
I noticed a lot of your remixes were of various different styles. Do you think you’ll someday collaborate with a hip-hop or rap artist?
I did, I did – it’s in the works right now! I can’t tell you who it is but it’s going to be really big. Keep an eye out towards the end of the summer!
When making remixes, what’s a signature SNBRN move or sound you often find yourself incorporating?
Piano always. That’s how I always start everything. I tend to not like to listen to the original song, whatever it is, I tend to not use any of the elements and just write something from scratch, so I always start with piano. Piano seems to be in almost every single one of my songs.
What has been your most memorable show?
I’m going to have to say last weekend in Brooklyn – it was a warehouse party called Bang On! and I had never seen anything like it. I thought I was going in to play a deep and vibey warehouse thing and it was this huge, sold-out thing. Every single person was just so involved, you could see it in their eyes and reactions. I’ve never had anything like it. The energy was incredible. We brought out Prince Fox and did a little b2b with him and Dr. Fresch, and then we brought out our friend Sapphire, as well as a live saxophone player, and just made it a whole special ordeal.
Proudest moment so far?
Finishing “Raindrops” was the first full song that I wrote with somebody and had that whole process with. I had always done remixes before that. That was one of my first original pieces of work that involved the singer and the writer and all of that, so it was a huge step for me.
Have there been any surprising or weird rumours about yourself?
People think I’m Australian. Another one I got on BBC1, I don’t know if it was a joke or not, but they were saying I was some dude living off an island in Spain where no one knew he was and just came out of nowhere, like in a British accent, ‘some guy living off the coast of Spain making music and sending it to Pete Tong’. There’s been some funny moments like that.
Do you prefer festivals or small shows?
That’s a tough one. I’ve only played two festivals right now – I really, really like it. It’s a totally different mentality and a totally different set. The club environment is a little more personal, but I’m gonna have to go with festivals. I can do some cool stuff and spend a lot of time making it special and different.
Favourite track to play in a set at the moment?
Corona – Rhythm of The Night (Blonde Version). The energy, it’s one of my favourite songs and I just end up playing it every set. It just does so well.
Any recent guilty pleasures?
In Miami, I fell in love with that song by Jack Ü, “Where Are Ü Now”, with Justin Bieber. That’s my secret [laughs]. I like Justin Bieber.