Interview: UKID

Having seemingly found a niche with their unique style that fuses rock, drum & bass and hip hop, UKID is one of the more revolutionary music acts to stem from the Glastonbury area in recent years and has amassed a huge following across the UK. In March, UKID launched a crowd-funding campaign to fund their debut album and confirmed their slot at one of our favourite festivals, The Godney Gathering, so we felt it was about time we interviewed them to find out about all of that and a bit more. Here’s what happened when Kevin McGough spoke to brothers KJ and Benjah Jon from the band…. Spacing First of all, how did you all meet?
. Benjah: Our bass player and drummer, KJ and Joey, met first. They became good friends when KJ joined the band Durban Poison when they were in their early teens and as I’m KJ’s brother, it wasn’t long before I met Joey as well. Many years later KJ departed from Durban Poison and we both went to Stafford University with the sole purpose to form a band, which is where we met Glenn who went to Stafford University with the sole purpose to find a band, too! Where did your name come from and what does it mean? KJ: Ben-Jah thought of the name UKID for his drum n bass production and used that for the band. There are many unique styles and sounds to music made within different cultures from around the world. The name UKID stands for United Kingdom identification and is meant to reflect our sound as having a raw British identity to it. You list bands such as Does it Offend you Yeah?, The Prodigy and Pendulum as your influences. What do you think has been their biggest influence on you and where do you feel your music/style sits amongst them? Benjah: We have a lot of respect for these artists and their music. They have all entered into the domain of rock meets dance and have shown how energetic and powerful that sound can be. We try to create that energy too, but also bring in a rap-based vocal, which distinguishes our music from theirs. Your lyrics are quite political at a time when most bands avoid being political like the plague. Why do you embrace such topics? And why do you think that, despite a strong heritage of blending politics and music in the UK, others desperately try to appear neutral, especially considering the turbulent times in which we live? Benjah: I’m just a crap liar to be honest so writing lyrics about being in love with fictitious females would be a very hard task. I just simply write about what I see and how I feel about it, whether that be about political issues, social issues or basic human moral standards. Bands that avoid meaningful topics are either money driven, purely instrumentally based or are just people with no depth to their thought. The demographic that most records are sold to are generally middle class. This means more stability in wealth and less problems in life. If that’s your target audience then political based lyrics isn’t really going to appeal to them as it’s an area that doesn’t affect them. How did your sponsorship deal with Badbreed come about? KJ: By complete luck and chance. They found us from our online presence so if you’re a band just starting out, just put yourself out there on every band related website going so your name becomes the first to pop up when typed into Google. Badbreed were looking for a band that had a similar sound to the Prodigy and we fitted the bill, so bob’s your uncle. Why did you feel you wanted to be involved with them? KJ: We felt as a band that it was a win-win situation; we liked the vibe and style of the brand and they liked our music and the whole ethos of UKID. We represent their brand and they promote us (and we also get free stuff!). In what ways have they helped the band? KJ: They produced a music video for us to further our progression as a band and also gave us a solid band image, which has created a professional presence on stage when performing. You’re trying to fund your own debut album, how is it going? KJ: We currently have a campaign on a website called Indiegogo, which is a crowd funding website. This involves people contributing to our cause and getting perks in return; for example a £10 donation will get you a digital copy of the album. There’s loads more perks on the website through this link: UKID Indiegogo Campaign It’s coming along successfully though; so far we’ve reached nearly 40% of our goal. We’ve had a real heartwarming experience as it’s shown us all the people who really believe in us by donating to our cause or simply putting the word out. You know who you are – you will not be forgotten in the near future. Why did you go down this route? Benjah: This route seems to be the only way these days for original bands because the market is flooded by musical clones shot out of karaoke competition cannons, as seen on our TVs. Big corporate record companies monopolise the industry and that makes it harder for original bands and artists to get signed to a label worth signing to. Funding yourself for recordings and promotions is a new and alternative way to do things, and it can be very beneficial, but like anything in life it’s just having the money.  You’re playing the Godney Gathering this summer. Do you look forward to the festival season? KJ: This year we are really looking forward to it as we have three festivals lined up so far which we’re really excited about and hopefully there’ll be a few more yet. But yeah we’re really looking forward to playing Godney. Can’t wait. You’ve played all over the UK but what’s been the best place/highlight thus far? Has to be a toss-up between the Riflemen’s in Glastonbury or a venue in Staines in Surrey called The Hobgoblin. These two places have given us the best crowds to date. Finally, what ambitions do you have for the next year? Next year we will have an album out and a few festivals under our belt, which will give us some weight as an up and coming band on the rise. We will continue to progress, writing new music and performing to new people and promoting the band until everybody has heard us. God save the music scene! Find out more about UKID at their official website or on Facebook