A few weeks ago I visited for the first time ever the San Francisco Bay Area where I met the DJ Kevin Knapp who lived since a year in Berlin. I had only one question in mind: „Why the hell are you leaving THIS(!) place and moved to Berlin?“ Here is the answer.
Kevin, please describe what you are doing.
I’ve been DJ’ing for 13 years. I got my first pair of turntables shortly after moving to San Francisco. After gigging in San Francisco and parts of the US for over a decade, I began to reach what I felt was the ceiling of the professional tier I inhabited as a local. In my opinion, the industry is much more prominent in Europe, especially in Berlin, Ibiza and London in particular. As Berlin was the least expensive of the three options and possessed the added bonus of amenable immigration laws, I made the decision to move here to pursue being a bigger fish in a larger pond. Fortunately, I’m also a lawyer at a non-profit law firm in San Francisco whose been amazingly supportive this effort. So while the music career continues to grow, I’m able to work a few days a month for the firm so that the wife and I can get a steak from time to time. Haha …
I believe strongly in the mantra that we should all do what we’re best at in life.
Do you have a master plan on how to monetize something you love?
There is definitely a road map to becoming a successful touring DJ/Producer, but even if you’re successful in accomplishing all the necessary steps that is no guarantee for success. There’s a reason parents seldom encourage their children to aspire to be touring musicians. The law of averages dictates that making a living as a musician just does not happen for many folks talented or otherwise. For myself, I feel like I had very little choice in the matter. I believe strongly in the mantra that we should all do what we’re best at in life and that in doing so, we’ll all fill the world’s varied employment niches and thus society overall will benefit. For me I believe DJ’ing is putting my best foot forward, giving my most competent skill to the world. Ironically, my brother told me years ago that the period of his life that he spent doing music he did because he was powerless to do anything else. I remember wishing for that and many years later, find myself in an identical position.
You recently moved from San Francisco to Berlin. Is this a step on the path to follow your passion as a DJ?
As I mentioned before, I felt access to the industry in Berlin was paramount to my growth as an artist. It really has been tremendously helpful being in such close proximity to such amazing talent. I also must add that the creative/DIY energy in the city really serves as a catalyst for my personal creative energy. I really have begun to feed off that creatively speaking, and it was completely unexpected. I consider it a major step in pursuing my passion and let‘s be honest, it’s a shitload of fun as well!
We also put a focus on the question if it is good to turn your passion into a business or if it‘s better if passion stays passion. What are your feelings about this?
I do understand the notion of leaving passions to be enjoyed without the pressure of monetizing or demystifying them. Unfortunately for me, when I love something as much as I do music or say cooking, there is very little anyone can do to keep me from learning as much as humanly possible about it. Perhaps the people who excel with moderation can keep the things they love compartmentalized. It’s just not an option for me, and I’m good with that.
Titelfoto: Iyya Kailani of EyeC Photography.