This summer, DJ and producer MK – real name Marc Kinchen – is joining forces with Chelsea football stars Thibaut Courtois, David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger for a brand new single.
It may be one of the more unexpected line-ups of 2018, but the idea was borne out of a simple premise: what happens when you combine the skills of three world-class football players with the Detroit icon’s own studio nous. Overseen by director Michael Williams, who shot the accompanying short film, the Beat Ball project took place at Shepperton Studios, just outside London. Here, MK recorded the three players as they struck a football against various surfaces – metals, plastics and even water – to create a library of samples that would form the basis of a brand new MK track.
“We have been taking some samples using the players and balls, trying to get as many weird, crazy samples as possible to incorporate into my music,” MK said, explaining the concept. “It was surreal to work with these incredible players to kick the ball to create the sounds and textures I wanted to record for the track.”
For the Chelsea stars, part of the FA Cup 2018 winning squad, harnessing their talent into the service of sound creation was a fresh experience. “This is something new for us players,” David Luiz, Chelsea’s Brazilian centre-back, asserts. “We all enjoyed working with somebody as talented as MK.” For Williams, too, the unique shoot brought its own share of challenges: “The number of moving parts, it’s an experimental process with multiple cameras so I had to keep MK interested sonically while keeping our players engaged physically. I wanted MK to run this ‘studio session’ so the challenge was real balance versus time,” Williams reveals. “And hoping my crew didn’t get hit in the face from all the rebounding balls.”
According to Williams, the aim of the project was to nurture a collaboration that drew on the artist and athletes’ very different skillsets, to blend athletic prowess with studio process. “I wanted to use the best of their talent and put them in each other’s world,” he said. “I thought the culture clash of MK’s chopped aesthetics with players’ peak athleticism would make for an interesting film.”
Indeed, MK has a track record when it comes to applying unusual techniques to shape his club sound. Perhaps best known for his reworking of Storm Queen’s Look Right Through which reached No. 1 in the UK chart, MK was born and raised in Detroit, coming up in the city’s storied techno heyday under the mentorship of Kevin Saunderson. A pioneer of the distinctive vocal chop technique – in which vocals are cut up, rearranged and deployed to devastating effect – MK helped lay the blueprint for a specific kind of high impact, super-agile house music. Taking into account the energy and the precision that goes into an MK production, perhaps the team-up between producer and elite athletes makes a certain sense. “Even just one sound can create a new track,” MK agrees. “So by layering it with drum sounds, it sounds very beat-heavy, and pretty dope! I hope you like it as much as we do.”
The collaboration came as a part of the club’s relationship with Sony Music. The track is due for release later this year.