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Courtesy of Kettama

DJ KETTAMA on the perks of pig slop and why Spotify is shit

Ahead of his set at Junction 2 festival, the “B O D Y” artist tells us about the future for Soundcloud musicians, wanting to be a UPS driver and staying true to his Galway roots

Evan Campbell, aka KETTAMA, is the stuff of Irish legend. A few years ago he was living at his mum’s house in Galway, mixing tunes on a tiny Bluetooth speaker given to him by an ex-girlfriend. Now he’s on the global stage, pumping his distinctive, hard-hitting style of house-adjacent dance into enthralled crowds. With a carefree and genre-bending attitude, he’s an artist pioneering new directions for electronic music.

KETTAMA attributes his rapid ascent to dumb luck. “It only takes one person to play your song”, he says—and in his case, that person was Mall Grab. Now best friends, KETTAMA gave him a USB when he was touring Ireland, hardly expecting a response. But shortly after, Mall Grab started playing one of KETTAMA’s tracks, ‘B O D Y’, during his sets. The internet loved it, and the rest is history.

Or so KETTAMA says: that’s a simplified narrative of success which embodies the 26-year-old’s low-key attitude. Sat with me in a London café, he’s dressed in a FedEx cap and Stella Artois polo shirt (he loves Guinness just as much, he says, but their merch is “dogshit—all crap vinyl prints and crap colours”). Plus, he’s always true to his Galway roots. KETTAMA’s own label, G-Town Records, was named after his and his friends’ ironic nickname for their hometown, and he’s excited to go back and play there for the first time in four years this month.

Much beyond that, though, and KETTAMA’s not sure what he’ll be up to. “I genuinely take it week by week”, he says. With a studio under London’s Fold nightclub, a week off from performing, and a new MacBook that he doesn’t yet know how to use (he was, up until yesterday, a Windows person), he has no idea what he wants to produce next. Catching him in his rest period, I chat with KETTAMA to get to grips with the spontaneous, dynamic world of this exciting rising artist.

Hey, Evan! First off—how was Glastonbury? 

KETTAMA: I mean it’s Glasto, it was so sick! I was so happy to be there. But at the same time, this year was a bitter pill. Folamour and Jayda G played before us, and the place was rammed out. But the minute me and Ewan [Mcvicar] played our first song, everyone left because Arctic Monkeys and Fred Again were both on at the same time. It was impossible competition. The crowd that stayed were great, and we really enjoyed the last 40 minutes especially, but to see people leaving before they even listened to a song was a knife in the chest. 

What are you doing with your week off?

KETTAMA: I never get to cook. So, I’ll just chill, cook food, eat food. Simple.

What do you like to cook?

KETTAMA: You don’t want to know! Pig slop—I eat actual pig slop. I cook beef mince with veg in it and then rice. Five per cent fat beef mince, twice a day. And eggs in the morning. It’s kind of funny, and it’s easy. But it’s definitely nothing special!

It’s often said that your sound pushes house music in a more extreme direction. Why settle on house?

KETTAMA: I don’t know, really. I started off DJing techno—really shit techno. And then I tried to make it, and it was just bad. I always liked chords, piano, stabs…that’s why I was more drawn towards house. But basically, I just made a house track once, and it ended up being good, so I thought: why don’t I just keep on doing this?

What’s your weirdest influence?

KETTAMA: I look up orchestral samples non-stop. Millions and millions of YouTube videos of 1920s abstract sounds are just sat there in my library. I need to go vinyl digging for some more orchestral stuff soon. Also, if I get a talking vocal, it’s normally from old Irish television. But I’ve only done that 2 or 3 times.

What were you like as a teenager?

KETTAMA: A pisshead. I was shit in school, but I didn’t get into trouble. My principal hated me, but I wasn’t awful. I used to drink a lot on weekends, and listen to music. Not good music, mind (MC Pat Flynn—look him up). Galway had way more clubs when I was younger. When I was 17 I used my brother’s ID to get into the clubs. There were four or five then, and now there’s one and it’s terrible.

You’re an artist who came up entirely through Soundcloud. What’ll be the next big revolution for upcoming artists?

KETTAMA: I think Soundcloud will last for a long time. A lot of people still don’t have it, they just go on Spotify or even YouTube. Soundcloud is where it’s at though. You get more of a fanbase there, and you get instant feedback. I’m going back to it more and more. On Spotify, you just get put on different playlists and people flick through. I’ve never found a new tune on Spotify, ever.

Your Spotify Wrapped must have looked slim, then…

KETTAMA: Actually, my top song was Snowfall by Øneheart, do you know it? It’s the background to every sad TikTok ever. Each time I get on a plane I put it on and go straight to sleep. It’s great.

Fuck, marry, kill: Mall Grab, Partyboi69, Mella Dee. 

KETTAMA: That is fucking funny, I’ll give you that. But I can’t answer it, not on record. In fact not off record, either. Not for anything!

Would you ever do anything other than music?

KETTAMA: I want to be a UPS driver. I know I’m wearing a FedEx cap, but I’m not taking the piss. Their drip is mad. They’ve got the whole brown fit and that crazy military-style van with the doors open. That’s genuinely what I want to do in retirement. Or maybe… I’m not good at cooking but I’d love to be a chef or something. Pigslop anyone?!

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