A chat with Kate Webb…

Kate Webb

We chat to ‘Lick the Lid’ party starter and purveyor of fine Electronic grooves Kate Webb

Hailing from the deepest part of the Midlands, namely Mansfield – Kate Webb has been quietly cultivating her tastes around a revolving pic n mix of EBM, House, Breaks and Electro for quite sometime now.

And whilst she may not (yet) be enjoying the champagne lifestyle of the top 100 festival DJs and making duets with D Guetta just yet, she has been making her mark on dance floors across the UK and beyond for quite a few years now. Grabbing the attention with her penchant for channelling the sometimes weirder, leftfield fringes of her psyche which meld with an instinctive notion of how to get people moving: she’s clearly spent years being guided by the sounds and experiences discovered for herself in the midst of heaving masses that inhabit club spaces around the UK and beyond.

Having caught our ear and attention, we wanted to reach out and dig a little deeper into her story and find out a bit more about her path into music and formative experiences.

So, where are you from originally …

I’m originally from Mansfield in Notts (the pit of the underground believe it or not). If you know anything about Venue 44 which was in the mining town, then you’ll get what I mean by that. It’s about a 20 mins drive from Nottingham city centre, I was raised there however my parents are from each end of the country, one north, one south. The mines are what brought one side of the family to work there, and years later there was me. I didn’t do my best should we say at school, though I always enjoyed playing the cello and drums but had too short of an attention span to master them.

Sixth form didn’t go so great so when I reached 18, I decided to visit and stay in Cancun, Mexico where I came across Reggaeton for the best part of just under a year. When I returned back to the UK, I went onto studying at a theatre uni in Birmingham but left that early too, so decided to leave that avenue and move back home. Then, I studied Music Tech at Confetti college where I then went on to meet one of my best friends (Jacob Nelson AKA DJ Slush Puppy), who got me into buying records and it’s him I need to thank for where I am today.

What made you decide to move to London when you did?

I felt I’d spent so much time in Nottingham, same thing diff day, I wanted to branch out. The city doesn’t have much to offer for working in the music industry and there’s not many clubs or venues to play and throw parties in. It basically made sense to apply for jobs where these opportunities were to nurture my desires at the time. I’ve always had a nice feeling for London as it’s where my Mum’s side of the family are from. Some still live there and I’ve always spent a lot of time there, so it’s also close to home for me.

How does life in the big smokes compare to the Midlands?

Completely different, speeding tickets for walking rather than being on the road – it is much faster paced and a lot more to do. That’s eating, exploring and going out in all forms, however the rent isn’t something Midlands and beyond have any need to be envious about. It’s one thing that has always bothered me – I’m not from an overly wealthy heritage and half of my wage went on it (as does promoting), saying that though, I don’t regret the move as I’m quite active in general and like to be doing things.

When did you get into Electronic music then?

I’d say going out in Nottingham to local parties and Leeds, then doing a season in Ibiza in 2013 def did a lot of the trick lol.

Who would you say really influenced you in terms of style/sound?

Excluding Ibiza it was my friend Jacob, who kindly lent me his turntables to learn how to mix in my bedroom and introduced me to music I hadn’t fully discovered at the time, as back then I only had the dance music from Ibiza running in my veins…

Bands have often played a big part in my musical education, anything with a psychedelic influence. Download was my first festival experience: rocking out to Metallica or something more punk driven such as The Gallows was a thing for me. My Mum was a rock chick at heart, her records that were on at home centred around psychedelic rock, soul, pop and indie. I also took quite the interest in Kraftwerk and found inspiration from them when buying my own selections with the more ambient/abstract stuff. And again, Jacob encouraged me to go to Berlin and go clubbing there. I didn’t know much about the clubs but soon enough, Panorama bar became my favourite dance floor and I continue to visit the city to date.

Dan Beaven (Berlin based DJ) has also had an influence on me in some form when it comes to playing peak time sets which I currently (occasionally) get to play. He took me record shopping at Record Loft once where I bought a load of minimal and remember him later saying to me next time, buy different genres – it’ll teach you to be a better DJ” – says he who can mix anything! Then of course, there’s Jane Fitz and former parties, Below in Birmingham and various other sessions that happened in Leeds

Nottingham has quite a strong reputation for House music, did you experience much of the halcyon days at the Bomb / DiY?

Unfortunately I didn’t get to attend any of those mentioned, I was still at school when these were at their peak, however DiY still do raves around and about (as far as I’m aware), Andy Riley and Grace Sands are giving a good show of what Nottingham had and still has. The first parties in the city I was going to were Detonate (dubstep/drum & bass), Faded (house) and Stealth club’s in-house nights. Then later on when at music college, I started attending a night called 808 which Willow was a resident at. I was more out and about regularly visiting Birmingham for Below, Leeds for Louche and going to Mint Club.

How did you end up working for Ninja tune?

I applied online through RA’s industry job board (Doors Open) for one of Ninja’s internship programs and whilst there, applied for a distribution job they had going in-house and got it!

And what has been your experience of working in the music industry?

Whilst working for labels/independent distributors, it’s been great as they’ve been awesome jobs for discovering new music, networking and just generally seeing how the side of promoting, running a label and releasing music works. I found it easy to contribute my outside of industry skills within these places too. However, as a small promoter, it’s not so great unless you’ve got the £££…

What made you decide to get into promoting then?

I caught the bug from going to Below in Brum and Jacob from 808 in Notts. We didn’t have many connections but wanted to play out more, so we started doing our own little night, South Jack Street, usually at Bar Eleven (the promoter’s go to and still is if you want cheap logistics) back in 2014, which funnily enough Adam Shelton headlined the launch. We then had guests such as Jane Fitz, Red Rack’em and Nick Craddock but the party came to an end in 2016.

You’re pretty busy putting on your own ‘Lick The Lid’ parties, what do you see as the biggest difficulties facing promoters right now?

In all honesty, for myself it’s generally the finances and following because I promote and run it on my own essentially (until recently anyway). Otherwise I’d say the struggle of clubs not trusting smaller brands for their parties to sell well, and clubs or larger promoters who run as a company so to speak, have exclusivity on artists, meaning the smaller indie promoters don’t get a look in.

With that in mind, how do you feel about the influence and pressures of social media?

I feel slightly pressured as it’s where everyone is these days, there’s a lot of quantity over quality (likes/views over talent). I’ve spoken to really talented acquaintances and friends who feel their music won’t get a look in as they don’t have the “ideal” following, support or perhaps network and are just hoping their music will find a way. So, it’s concerning that we have to be at the top of our game on our phones constantly, posting decent enough content. because if not then we might miss opportunities. However, I do see the positive sides for creatives in general and wouldn’t have found my designers for my party if I didn’t use it. So, it’s a good source for discovering great leads and talent further afield too, even in music.

And are there things you would like to see change moving forward?

In an ideal world, it would be sweet if we could emphasise more on quality over quantity, so less on following trends… I totally get venues are a business but I’m saying it more for the people who are signing the stuff/who they are pushing forward. More community driven events would be cool too as opposed to them all being money making schemes. And venues taking a risk on working with new promoters who have a lot to give. And whilst on the topic of community, there is a project namely Nightfund who are focussed on just this and are offering funding to promoters, it’s definitely worth a check: www.nightfund.org

Last but not least, what are you working on at the moment/got coming up next?

I’m currently in the process of writing an EP and have artist mentorship with Subb-an, who’s been amazing at helping me create mega ideas and techniques for my tunes. He’s been a sound person to have as a tutor and his sessions are always engaging and productive. As for parties, coming up next is Lick The Lid at The Imaginarium (Leeds) on the 29th July with Adam Shelton & Ethan McNamara! Two people who have been a part in some of my musical history/journey. The venue managers are good friends too and one of the realest to work with, so I’m excited about this.