Two weeks ago, Marc Kinchen, better known as MK, took a remix of an underground house track by Storm Queen to the top of the UK charts. While it was dethroned by Martin Garrix earlier this week, the MK remix of “Look Right Through” is still lodged in the Top 10, giving Kinchen, an American, the biggest surprise hit of his career.
“I totally didn’t expect it,” Kinchen tells Billboard about claiming the No. 1 spot. “I heard the labels talk about it but I basically looked at it like that has nothing to do with me. I just went about what I do. It didn’t really hit me until the morning after and was like, ‘Oh shit, that’s crazy.’”
Kinchen’s began his career n the mid ‘90s, as a house music producer and remixer, working on tracks for artists like Pet Shop Boys, Terrence Trent D’Arby and even Bobby Brown. After a diversion into mainstream production, Kinchen returned to house music a few years ago and started DJing again. In summer, 2012, Simon Dunmore of iconic UK dance music label Defected approached him with an opportunity to remix a track by Storm Queen, an alias of New York producer Morgan Geist. At first, Kinchen wasn’t convinced.
“He said, ‘Do you want to remix this? Jamie Jones just did a remix of it,’” Kinchen explains. “That’s really why I picked the record to mix it, because Jamie did it. I don’t like the original at all. The vocals are really good; the track is cool on an underground level but it wasn’t my thing.”
Adding a layer to the fairytale of the track, the vocals that sold Kinchen on doing the remix are from former busker Damon C. Scott, who came to some notoriety in early 2012 thanks to a viral clip of him singing Adele’s “Someone Like You” on the 86thStreet subway platform in New York City. Wresting control of Scott’s formidable tenor from Geist’s original, Kinchen released two remixes through Defected and did a third that he kept for himself just to play during his DJ sets. “My plan was to never to give it to anybody. But every time I played it, the reaction got bigger and bigger.”
Ultimately, MK’s “Look Right Through” caught the ears of Ministry of Sound, who released it as a single, replete with a new music video. The song went to number one, becoming the third in a series of house revival tracks (following Disclosure’s “White Noise” and Duke Dumont’s “Need U”) to unexpectedly storm the British charts this year.
“I never said it to anybody, but deep down inside I thought, ‘I’m gonna be the third one,’” Kinchen confesses. “I felt like we’re all kind of on the same wavelength in terms of sound and the type of audience we attract. It felt like, I could do it if I wanted to. I didn’t think Storm Queen would be the one. I thought it was going to be an MK record.”
Kinchen is now fitting in studio time for a full-length album that he says should be released by late spring. And while he’s enlisted a slew of heavy-hitting collaborators (Eats Everything, Anabel Englund, Lee Foss, Dumont) with eyes on a few more (Sam Smith, Emma Louise), he’s avoiding any signing conversations with labels, at least for now.
“I’m making it just for me to play, the way I want to make it,” he says. “I’ll test it out, but I don’t want somebody else telling me how to make my album.”
When he’s at home in the States, Kinchen still leads a completely normal existence, but that has changed in Europe somewhat dramatically.
“I was playing in Ireland and walked outside to let my friends in and this group of girls all screamed ‘MK!’ and started chasing me,” Kinchen says, still somewhat baffled by the experience. “I was at the airport at the bar before I flew and all the workers wanted to take pictures with me. I was like, ‘Holy crap.’ It’s crazy. I wish people like my family could see it because they wouldn’t believe it.”
Calling these things his “Justin Bieber moments,” Kinchen is still resolutely focused on his craft.
“This part is fun but I don’t put too much emphasis on it,” he adds. “I know what I have to do and I just go at it. Everything else is just a fringe benefit.”