Ahead of UAE gigs, a brief history of the British house group K-Klass
With 27 years behind them and two bona fide dance anthems to their name, Brit house group K-Klass are dance-floor pioneers – and survivors. Ahead of gigs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai this weekend, founding member Russell Morgan, 49, traces the historic act’s evolution.
It all began – as it did for so many – at The Haçienda, the iconic Manchester nightspot run by Factory Records and New Order.
“It was the spring of 1988. I’d started going to The Hacienda, where I bumped into [co-founder] Paul [Roberts]. We both looked at each other and said ‘I’d love to make a track like this’. “We went back together to see 808 State, and the band with them was Interstate – which was [future K-Klass bandmates] Carl [Thomas] and Andy [Williams]. We talked to them after the gig, and after a couple of weeks we’d put together the Wildlife EP.”
Signed to a record deal as a four-piece, in 1991 K-Klass hit number three in the UK charts – and scored an anthem – with a remix of their debut single Rhythm is a Mystery.
“The record company wanted a vocal track. We were just four lads off the street, we’d never written a vocal line, so we got a load of newspapers and magazines and just took random lines for the lyrics – if you listen to it, it doesn’t mean a thing.
“When the remix came out, it was crazy – we did [UK TV chart show] Top of the Pops when I was still working at the post office. They gave me six months off ‘to follow my dream’ and I never went back. I’m probably still technically employed today, with 24 years of holiday pay.”
After four more chart hits, including So Right and Let Me Show You, in the mid-1990s the band moved primarily into remixing for other acts, including Kylie Minogue, S Club 7, Janet Jackson and Luther Vandros.
“We kind of fell into remixing – we’ve always tried to move with what’s happening at the time. The one that sticks in my mind is Frankie Knuckles’s Whadda U Want (From Me). We got to meet Frankie a few years back. He came over and hugged us and said it was his favourite remix of any project. That meant the world to us – Frankie Knuckles IS house music.”
The live band slowly evolved into a DJ brand, including a mid-1990s residency at Liverpool’s Cream nightclub.
“It’s almost like being a Premiership footballer in the 1990s compared to now – we really missed out on the big money. DJs now are paid ridiculous money – our fee has never, ever changed. It’s exactly the same as when we started in 1993/94. We do all right on bookings, but I will say it’s on a level with the [UK] minimum wage – we like to think we’re value for money.”
The band were four. Then two. And now three.
“Carl didn’t want to carry on. In 2007, he got a job in a call centre. We never knew why he left. Maybe he’d just had enough – one day he just never came in any more. Then Andy left and he moved to Dubai, where he sells sound systems. Maybe it’s a financial thing. But Paul married our original vocalist Bobbi [Depasois] – and I’m like their mature son.”
The story (so far) ends with Russell’s nostalgia-themed DJ gigs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai this weekend.
“The past can be a chain around your neck – because we’re from that era, that’s what everyone expects. People want to hear the classics because they’re classic but if you never play any new music there will never be any more classics.”
• K-Klass perform at Relax, Abu Dhabi at midnight on Thursday, August 13, and at Zero Gravity, Dubai, on Friday, August 14. Entry is free
Updated: August 12, 2015 04:00 AM