24 Jan, 2018

Reece Ketley isn’t a producer or an events promoter. He is, however, a true drum and bass fan who has taken his love of the scene and his love for metalwork and combined them into something truly awesome.

Tell us your career story, what made you choose the path into the industry you’re in now?

“To be honest I have always loved making things, I’m a huge nerd! I write computer programs, build electronics and of course weld bits of metal together. I completed my work experience at a metal shop and quickly found I had a passion for creating things. There is something truly rewarding about taking bits of raw materials and turning them into a finished product. That kind of set my mind on what I wanted to do for a living.

I didn’t do great at School and I was a fairly troubled teen so when I left school, I didn’t have many options and ended up working in Tesco for a while. I really wasn’t happy and depression hit home. I was thankfully given the opportunity to work for the company I had been with during my work experience placement which was a great chance to prove myself.

This was exactly what I did and I quickly picked things up and become very proficient at CAD drawings and CNC operations. I was lucky enough to be given the chance to pursue this path and my whole life changed from then on.”

What’s a typical day for you? Break down the workload!

“Ah thats a good one! In the industry I work in no day is a typical day and every day is a different every job.

I guess the basic version of it is: wake up around 6am, get washed and changed, grab a RedBull and check my socials for inboxes and orders then head off to work. Check over drawings and job tickets for half hour or so and work out what needs to be done. Grab some metal, cut, drill and weld. Head home around 5pm and begin working on drawings for lightboxes, keyrings or other bits I have come up with. I keep my laser cutter at home as it’s more convenient so typically I will be laser cutting bits till around midnight and on weekends generally later than that. While my laser is on the go i’ll work on electronics, software or anything that is needed to complete a project. Eventually after that I will get some sleep.”

Was this always the plan or did you have other ideas when you were at School?

“I honestly had no idea I would be doing this as I was always labeled as a computer whizz kid and I would spend a lot of time writing software. I actually briefly had my own software developments that I was making money from. Although I was good at it, it really didn’t make me happy or give me a sense of pride which comes with what I do now. This all happened by accident and the support has been phenomenal.”

If someone reading this wanted to get into your industry, do you have any tips for success?

“To be honest I would say be passionate about what you do. Take pride in your work and let it speak for itself. I personally have a rule with products I am designing or making and its simply – would I have it in my house? I’ve really gained my client base by being proactive. Sitting around waiting to be discovered does not work. When I started doing lightboxes I didn’t go in to it for money, in fact the first few I earned nothing and they cost me a fair bit to make but I gained respect and publicity from that.

Understand that in order to make money you need to spend money. Doing freebies and stuff really helps you out in the long run with publicity and promotion.”

You’re obviously a big fan of the scene, how did this passion for drum and bass music start?

“It started when I was pretty young to be honest, weird but you know GTA3 and the radio station MSX FM? My brother was playing it and I heard Omni Trio ‘First Contact’ and that really got me, there is just something about that track. I live about 5 minutes from where Andy C was born so I was introduced into the music RAM was putting out such as Chase & Status, Sub Focus, Fresh etc and since then I’ve become hooked.”

Was this an ideal time to combine your love of music with your skills behind the lazers?

“The thing is I love this community, the artists and the fans. The fact I can go to a rave on my own and leave with a bunch of new friends is pretty special. I can meet someone for the first time and have a conversation lasting hours just about drum & bass. The time felt right when I saw Upgrade, Nu Elementz and Majistrate’s set at Rampage.

That set changed my life and I listen to it all the time still to this day and I’m proud to say I’ve worked with each artist and know most of them on a personal level.

I simply knew i had to be a part of this scene I knew I wanted to bring something unique to the table to show my appreciation to the artists.”

Who was the first drum and bass artist you reached out to? Why did you choose them?

“The funny thing is the first actual sign I made was for Sweet Tooth and it was terrible, I mean dreadful. So I left it a while but I knew I would come back to it. Dominator (RIP) was the first artist I actually worked with officially, he was more than happy to provide the required images for me to turn into CAD drawings which surprised me as at the time as I was pretty much unknown.”

What was their reaction when they received the final product?

“Incredible! He loved it and added me on Facebook. It sounds silly but when one of your idols adds you it feels like a big deal. He shared my work on all of his socials and really put the wheels in motion. I’m still deeply saddened by his passing and he’s missed terribly. Rest in peace Dom.”

Did this spur you on to make more designs?

“Absolutely. Once Dom had posted my work and I could see everyone reactions I knew this was something I wanted to develop. I started on Upgrade and Nu Elementz light boxes the same day. When Dom posted my work I hadn’t even told them I was going to make it, I only told them when essentially I had them both close to completion.”

Have you been approached by other artists to take on commissions?

“Yes there has been so many! I get asked to make light boxes almost daily now. I’ve had to set up a waiting list. The support and interest has been overwhelming, I would have never expected it to grow as much as it has. I have met some wonderful people through this and found some wicked new music!”

Do you have a favourite product? If so, any photos or stories relating to it?

That’s a really tough one! Although having Macky Gee come to my local pub to collect his one is pretty dope. The Serial Killaz engraving on Upgrade’s one is wicked. In all honesty it has to be D-STORTION Records purely because that’s where it all began. Without the support of Dominator I probably wouldn’t be doing this interview.”

On a drum and bass tip, break down your top 3 track of 2017

“Oh damn there have been so many wicked tracks in the past year it’s hard to choose but the ones that stick out for me are:

The Hitman (T>I Remix)

I’ve always loved T>I’s production style, his tracks are clean and punchy. He makes wicked bass sounds and this track really does go off in style.

Upgrade – Blow

I’m a huge Upgrade fan, he is one of my personal favorites and I think his productions are phenomenal This track is just a smasher – the rolling bass, the crisp drums. Big love for this tune.

Nu Elementz – Operation

“Again I’m a massive fan of Nu Elementz, I’ve got the snapbacks to prove it! This one has just got that screwface vibe. I love Nu Elementz’s synths, they really are mental. The wobble bass on this one along with the high pitch synth hits… Yeah banger.”

Who’s going to smash 2018 DJ and MC wise?

“Maybe I am biased but I think Upgrade. He’s wicked and also entertaining to watch, you seen his dance moves? Also Nu Elementz. MCs has to be Azza and Grima.”

What’s next for you work wise? Any big plans?

“Currently I have a few projects doing some bits for TNA and a lot more lightboxes. I have some pretty big things I’m working on and have some new products I’ve been designing that are pretty sick! I’m always looking for new ideas and new projects. I’m also going to push my brand Kreations a bit more. Who knows as I’m always up to something!”

Finally, any shouts or big ups?

“I’ve got to shout out to my pal Hydrix, check him out! My friend Hayley for giving me advice on how to handle things correctly. A massive big ups to Nu Elementz’s for his continued support. To be honest just a big thank you to everyone that has one of my products. Everyone that likes, shares, comments on my work. And everyone that just supports me in general. I’m truly humbled and honoured by everyone’s support and from the bottom of my heart thank you!”

Check out Reece’s Instagram here.

You can follow Jamie Section 23 on Twitter, @JamieS23
Jamie S23 is part of the editorial team at Drum&BassArena, has a huge collection of vinyl from the 90’s and spends many hours wishing music still came on cassette. He’s stupidly into fitness and most importantly, a devoted Dad. Reminisce about air horns, lighters and The Sanctuary with him via Twitter or Soundcloud