Lewis Shay Jankel is an artist that blends old school soul with a new school sound. The London born DJ has been touring the USA this summer, and while he was in California KSDT had the pleasure to sit down with the DJ, producer, and vocal artist best known by his stage name Shift K3Y.
With his debut single “Touch” making it to #3 on the UK Singles Chart in 2014, Shift K3Y has gained acclaim in the UK and Europe, but that is only the start. The now 22 years old has come a long way in a very short amount of time. Trying to make his mark across the pond, Shift K3Y has signed to the USA’s very own Ultra Music (Ultra Records), in addition to Columbia UK. He has just released a remixes EP under Dim Mak this month and supposedly has an album waiting in the wings. You might not be familiar with his name quite yet and that’s okay, but Shift K3Y is definitely an artist to watch out for.
KSDT caught up with Shift K3Y after his outdoor DJ set at Splash House Palm Springs this past June, engaging in a casual convo/Q&A session:
Q: How did you feel about your set today? (Shift K3Y’s DJ set was poolside in 108 F* heat.)
A: My set if I’m very honest, it was ridiculously hot. To the point where- because the mixer and everything are all metal, so if you could imagine it was like literally mixing on a stove, a cooker. So it was interesting, but after the first 10 minutes I was into it and found the flow. I always find that I can hit a blend of what I do and what I usually play here (the USA).
Q: If you could describe your own sound what would it be?
A: My sound is a mixture of R&B, dance music, jazz, soul, and a little bit of hip-hop influence.
Q: Who would you say are your music influences?
A: MJ (Michael Jackson), Stevie (Wonder), Earth Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan, (Led) Zeppelin, (Paul) Rodgers. Yeah, that is like my era of music.
Q: Who are you currently listening to? What about them do you like?
A: For me the Kendrick (Llamar) album (To Pimp a Butterfly) took a minute for me to connect, because good kid, m.A.A.d city was like my bible. For him to try and put out anything after was going to be difficult for me, naturally. So I was bit like… ehh, where are the club hits? That sort of thing… And then after awhile I realized I kept listening to it. I didn’t even know why I was doing it; I was just like this is so deep I just have to hear the end of it.
And also the guy I have been working with quite a bit James Fauntleroy did quite a lot on the album. I didn’t realize it until I started hearing his voice. So yea, I’m just in love with that album.
Q: Your name is pretty unique, how did you come to be Shift K3Y?
A: Well at the time I wanted something that was a new stage of musical development, so yeah. And the “3” was because no one could find me when it was just regular; obviously because I knew nothing about search engines or anything. And when I was making trap music I had a dollar sign ”$”.
Yeah, it’s a name, it just clicked. It is just a name.
Q: From being in the studio making music to playing live to a crowd when you tour, how do the two sides compare?
A: It’s always a learning experience from playing shows and then going back to the studio. It does give me lot of ideas, but I always find that I come back to the same things, those same influences I was talking about. It’s just because I listen to so much of that music on a daily basis. For me when I was fifteen that is when dance music was in my life; that is when I first got into it. And ever since then I’ve been trying to blend what I’m into; and I love dance music, but it’s always hard to blend the two. I feel like there are occasional moments, like what is going on now is a good point.
Q: KSDT is a college radio station, so many of our listeners are about your age. What advice could you give our listeners who are trying to pursue music?
A: Quit your job and dedicate every possible moment to doing music. Personally I think you have to understand everything about what makes a song a song, or a track a track, you got to understand a bit about the marketing, the lyrics, the advertising, the conception, the beat, mix down, mastering. You don’t have to know how to do everything, but as long as you understand all of those elements, then you can truly say I signed off on that knowing I was on top of everything.
But also just put stuff out and don’t be afraid. Because I think a lot of people spend too long getting it just right, and in that time they could have been building up a following. So it’s a balance of addressing your craft and then knowing the right time, and you just know when it’s right, you just got to go for it.
Q: We are a San Diego based radio station and you recently performed at San Diego’s Bang Bang. How did you enjoy your time out there? Do think you will be heading back our way anytime soon?
A: I actually love San Diego, really love it; I like LA (Los Angeles) a lot for writing and stuff, but San Diego for me has always been like if LA had a bath. I kind of feel like San Diego has a real cool vibe and I love it. I’ll come back whenever.
So definitely coming back?
Yeah, a 1000%.
Q: In the Future what should we expect from you as a producer and vocal artist?
A: There is an album coming, I’m not sure of the exact time it’s coming out. We originally said- summer, as in this summer, but I just want to make it right. I’m chilling; I don’t need to prove anything just yet. Over here people still don’t really know me, so I’m just building my presence here and trying to get that to the level where I am in the UK. Once everyone is in the same place then I reckon the album will come out.
So you’re just building a following, like you said?
Yea, over here ( the USA). I could put it out in the UK, but I feel like I would be letting down people here. I think the time just has to be right for everyone to be into it at the same time.
So look out for an album?
An Album, obviously more singles, remixes; there is a track with me and Born Dirty which is coming out at Dim Mak in a month. All I’m going to say is it’s not my usual role, that’s all I’m going to say.
So not as much R&B and House?
No, like as in what you think I did on that track, rethink. As soon as you think you know what I did on that track think again. Because I guarantee, you won’t be correct your first guess.
Q: Lastly, for all our listeners what is the best way to find the latest on Shift K3Y?
A: At the moment, Spotify is where I’m directing everyone. It makes more sense in Europe and the UK for me: obviously Soundcloud, my website shiftk3y.com, twitter, Facebook, all that stuff, but Spotify and Soundcloud.
There was a sense of ease with which Shift K3Y spoke; an ease that comes not from knowing all the answers, but from being in the heart of the process. And it shows, since KSDT’s interview with Shift K3Y in June, he has put out his remixes EP Misbehave with Born Dirty, and another EP of his own called Off the Record. For more on the up-and-coming artist Shift K3Y, from songs to tour dates check out the links below.
Links & Sites:
Mentioned Singles & EPs:
Shift K3Y – Touch (Single): https://youtu.be/9KtYYHKEGDc
Shift K3Y & Born Dirty Dim Mak Records – Misbehave (Remixes EP): https://soundcloud.com/dimmakrecords/sets/shift-k3y-born-dirty-misbehave
Shift K3Y- Off the Record (EP): https://soundcloud.com/shift-key/sets/off-the-record
Photos / @shiftk3y / Interview / Susan Bystrom / Audio Record / Zane Samarasinghe