Hilit Kolet Talks Campo Sancho, Black Market Records, Laurent Garnier & Production


An interview with The Insider

Hilit Kolet’s star is rising, even through her career goes way back when! She has taken her time to hone her craft and expand her knowledge, and since she’s been in the UK, she has worked in the iconic hub, Black Market Records, released on Defected, with big support from those in the know on Radio 1.

Hilit Kolet’s style is full of Chicago influence and New York sleaze, she has played out across the globe from London’s Koko to Ministry of Sound, from Berlin all the way to Dubai. In July this year Hilit Kolet brings her energetic set once again to Campo Sancho. We had a chat with this dynamic individual ahead of the event.

Campo Sancho has delivered yet another sublime line-up this year, alongside Hilit you can check Laurent Garnier, Norman Jay, Rahaan, Terry Farley & Stuart Patterson, Crazy P’s Danielle Moore, Dicky Trisco among a long list of superb selectors.

You can check the line-up below and grab tickets HERE

We spoke to Hilit about Campo Sancho, Black Market Records, Laurent Garnier, production and lots more. Check it out below.

Campo Sancho Line-up

Hi Hilit,

thanks for talking to Le Visiteur

Where are you based and what is it you love about the city in which you in live today?

I live in London, right on the border between Shoreditch and Islington, which is perfect for me. I’m not far from the messy, hip, graffiti-loaded streets of Hoxton, but I’m also a drop from the tranquil Regent’s Canal and a few minutes away from the stylish Upper Street.

The thing I love most about London is its deep relationship with music; music is embedded within the city’s streets – and vice a versa. I also love having so many options for everything, food, galleries, shops, and of course clubs.

Who were your icons as you were growing up?

Cajmere, Deee-lite, Kenny Dope, Missy Elliott, Pet Shop Boys, Adonis, Grace Jones, Derrick Carter, Prince, George Michael, Laurent Garnier, Robert Hood, Xpress 2, Yello, Mood II Swing, Madonna, Candi Staton, Chemical Brothers, Yazoo, Todd Terry… And more.

You trained classically. What led you there?

Yes, that’s right. My mum was working as a piano teacher all through my childhood, she was teaching children on our beautiful grand piano, which took up most of the sitting room.
I spent all my afternoons on the sofa watching the lessons, and when I was about five, I started becoming somewhat of a disturbance, telling students to ‘go home because it’s my turn to play piano with mummy now’.

I ended up training at the local conservatoire, doing the full thing, four times per week, including recitals and playing with the orchestra and all. I discovered electronic music at around 12 or 13 years old.

Back then I was listening to a real mix of house, techno, and electronic pop. It took me a few years to completely ‘cross over’ but at one point I did. Classical music was a great way of processing pain and challenging emotions, but it was mostly about a heavier spectrum of feelings.

Now, I discovered that music was also a way to express joy and passion and excitement, and it was really refreshing and somewhat liberating too.

How did you jump into the music scene?

I was working in all forms of media as a teenager, always focusing on dance and electronic music. I hosted radio shows, edited magazines, had a dance music TV show, ran websites – everything really. I never planned on becoming a DJ or a producer, I just loved collecting the music, dancing to it, and obsessing over the culture around it.

Prior to working at Black Market, I guess you used to visit the shop as a record buyer?

Oh yes, for sure.

How did you eventually end up working in BM?

There was a point where I felt that I wanted to dive deeper into the music and working in a record shop seemed like the best way forward. I loved the legacy that Black Market already had and also loved their US imports section as well as the Edits and Techno sections, so I got up in the morning, hopped on the tube, walked in and asked if they wanted me to work there… Pretty much.

Who do you remember coming into the shop at the time you were there?

Everyone who played town used to also swing by. Sometimes they would also play an in-store on Friday afternoon, in fact part of my role was to put these on, and it was loadsa fun…. We had Moodymann, Louie Vega, Kerri Chandler, The Martinez Brothers, Scott Grooves, Mark Farina, Derrick Carter, Dennis Ferrer, Black Coffee, Bob Sinclair, Todd Terry, DJ Gregory, Kyle Hall, Sandy Rivera, Ron Trent, Glenn underground… Mr G was a weekly regular, Andrew Weatherall, Terry Farley came in frequently.

How long were you there for?

I was there for 7 or 8 years, some full time, some part time.

I guess the knowledge you acquired in the shop was something else. Was there someone in particular there who was a mentor to you?

Defo Goldie (the house Goldie not the DnB Goldie), who was also one of the owners. Not just a mentor but also family, he still is.

At what point did you first start to DJ in London?

It was after a couple of years working in the shop. I started getting set offers from some of the DJs / promoters that passed by the shop, and although the thought had never crossed my mind before, it now seemed like a good idea. I also had a partner who got pretty tired of me excitedly asking to play him a new found favourite tune every day… he was like, “why don’t you play it to people who are into it” hehe.

Where were your first gigs?

It was a mixture of West London joints as I lived West at the time with some fashion brands who wanted to soundtrack their shop or a catwalk show.

What are one or two of the tracks you played in your early days?

Son Of Raw – A Black Man In Space

Makam – Exception

DJ T – Dis

Mr G – Back A Yard Original – Proof

When did you cross over into production?

I started toying with some audio editing when I managed mine and my ex-husband’s recording studio, then I did lots of mix prep for him, then started messing about with the synth library. It was very organic and gradual really.

What was your first production?

It was a mash-up / bootleg I made for my fashion gigs, not sure I’m gonna tell you what of 🙂 I recently dug it out for the first time in ages actually.

What do you think was your most important release in your back catalog?

The last release is always the most important release, or the next one 🙂

You did an edit of one of Laurent Garnier’s most important tracks. How did he feel about that?

I did an edit of ‘Crispy Bacon’, originally just for myself to play out. Roundabout the same time, I met Carl Cox and then sent it to him. His response was so enthusiastic that I gathered the courage to send it to Laurent himself as well… When Laurent replied with some really nice words, I couldn’t be happier. A few months later Laurent decided he will release it on the limited-edition boxset of his new album ‘33 Tours Et Puis S’en Vont’, which was pretty cool.

What has been the biggest challenge for you in your career?

Balancing everything and the lack of an extra 12 hours a day. Digging with producing, touring with family life, all of these with personal life. I also find digging and set prep takes so much longer these days, as there’s so much more music out there. At the same time, the deeper I dive into production, the more critical I am in the way I’m listening to other producers’ music, so despite the huge amounts of music on offer, it’s become more difficult for me to find tracks I’m really into.

Do you feel you have overcome these challenges over time or are some of the challenges still present today?

N to the O! It’s all about the journey.

You’re going to be playing at Campo Sancho this year. What do you know about the festival?

I’ve played the last Campo and it was one of my favourite sets that I’ve ever played. I still get people stopping me on my way saying how much they loved my set which is honestly so incredible… It really does get the friendliest, loveliest crowd of real music lovers and I can’t wait to be back.

What kind of set will you be playing and at what time?

I’m playing on Saturday night before Laurent Garnier. Need I say more?

What’s your top tip for festival survival?

Wipes, sunscreen, jacket, water, all of it. “Expect the best but prepare for the worst” kinda.

Give us a track for peak time festival madness?

Hilit Kolet – Everything Is Amazing – Bush (Out now, grab it HERE)

Your fave tune to watch the sun come up to?

Mr Fingers – Supa Kool

Is here something else you would like to tell us about you?

No cause I’m running late for my drum class (again!!)

What other projects are you working on that you can share?

Lots more music coming from me in the next few months including some really interesting remixes and collabs, I’m also working on a cover version / remake for a really big club anthem, which I will no doubt drop at Campo!

For more info on Hilit Kolet & Campo Sancho please check:

Hilit Kolet Facebook
Hilit Kolet Instagram
Campo Sancho Facebook
Campo Sancho Instagram
Campo Sancho Website
Campo Sancho Tickets

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