Shugz (Christopher Kirkpatrick) is a name that has appeared to come out of nowhere on the Trance scene. He combines youth, energy, electrifyingly impressive deck skills and a notable production ability…….it doesn’t take long to realise why there is such a fuss around this exceptional talent. I caught up with Shugz to find out
So Shugz, tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Christopher Kirkpatrick, I’m 27 years young & from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Passionate music lover, gamer & daddy.
What made you start DJing and how old were you?
Just the love for music & art of DJing in general really. I remember watching videos of DJs when I was 14-15 years of age & deciding I wanted some of that in my life. It’s the only thing in the world I ever wanted to be.
What or who were your early passions and influences?
Eddie Halliwell & Fergie. Two absolute animals on the decks.
What was your first live DJ set, how did you get it and how did it go?
My first live set was at a venue in Belfast called Quest. It was the only club show for Trance in Belfast at the time when I was going, so to be involved was cool. A friend knew the promoter who ran the event and put a name in for me. Ended up becoming good mates with Colin (the promoter.) He helped me a lot with gigs & experience in the years following. Quest is where I learned the foundations of performing sets live & for that I’m grateful.
What’s your preference, Vinyl, CD’s or Digital and why?
Digital because it’s just too handy. The features & tricks available with the digital versions of decks these days are just insane. Keep up with the times & always try to implement the new technology into your sets. As unreal as it is playing on vinyl, it’s much more fun using CDJs for me.
What do you usually start with when preparing for a set?
I never really prepare for sets – not much anyway. Always off the cuff. Sometimes I’ll find 2 or 3 tracks that will mix well together & play them accordingly at some point. I just make sure everything is labeled in key & fire away. DJing should always be as loose as possible. Read the crowd.
How would you describe your sound?
Energetic & unpredictable.
Where does the name Shugz come from?
My brother & father actually. They are both called Hugh and have the nickname Shugo. Shugs is just a variation of it that they get called too. My mates in school started labeling me as Shugs so I slapped a Z on instead of S because everyone loves a random Z instead of an S. No interesting or inspiring story here sorry. 😂
To be successful these days it’s crucial to set yourself apart from other DJ’s, what makes you different?
I’m not different at all. I just try to make the best music as possible in my studio & play the best sets possible live. If you can do those both to a good standard, have the right attitude & backing, you will do well.
Which DJs are you influenced by now?
James Zabiela always blows my kind & I’m really digging Stephan Bodzin’s live sets too. Two very talented dudes for very different reasons.
What’s your favourite track at the moment?
David Rust’s new Tech Trance track coming soon. Monstrous.
Totally impossible to answer I know but have you got a favourite track of all time?
Impossible would be correct.
What set during your career has been your favourite so far, and why?
This is an easy one. My 6 hour open to close in Groove, Buenos Aires. It was my first open to close set ever & I learned a lot from that experience in that club with that crowd. I would have went on for 10 if I could. I didn’t want it to end.
Which event or venue in the world would you love to play at, which you haven’t had the chance to so far?
I would love a crack at EDC Vegas. It looks absolutely insane. Production, location & just the all round quality.
What would be your dream line up to play on?
Creamfields & lucky enough to be spinning at the event this year.
What bookings do you have lined up for the rest of 2018?
A lot! Ones I’m most excited for are my Ibiza debut, return to Oz, Argentina for the huge BAT festival & of course Anomaly with you guys!
You’ve recently been playing more international gigs, what countrys been your favourite to play in and why?
The cliché answer – Argentina. Just the best crowd on earth.
How do crowds at international gigs differ from UK ones?
Depends where in the UK you mean haha. Scotland & Northern Ireland are hard to beat anywhere in the world to be honest. Every crowd you play to is different, some more exciting than others. You always prefer the crazy ones, suits my playing style much better.
How and why did you get in to producing music?
To get gigs. It’s the only way to get established as a DJ these days. I absolutely adore producing now & it’s taken over my life but the only reason I started was to get more gigs. DJ before producer – ALWAYS.
What are you working on at the moment?
Just signed a Tech Trance track yesterday that I’ve been playing in my sets a lot. Putting the final touches on a Fred Baker meets Sander Van Doorn style tune as well. Very different from the norm. Few other bits & bobs taking shape as well. Determined to finish this year strong.
What software and hardware do you use?
My DAW is Abelton live 10. I’m a very boring producer when it comes to plugins I tend to stick with a small few. Addicted to Serum at the moment for pretty much everything that I will say. The only hardware that I have at the moment is the Ableton Push which is ridiculously good.
Talk us through what you do when you start writing a new track and how does it evolve from your initial idea? Do you start with a melody and work it from there?
I always start with my kick bass & percussion. I find it more difficult to get those right so always jump in the deep end in that sense. Also when I get that side nailed down the rest comes together much quicker. As much as I love working on breakdowns, I need to get the fundamentals down firstly.
What track was the first one you had signed and how did that feel?
First orignal tune I ever singed was my track Eden’s Calling on ITWT. There is no feeling like it. Along with the final export screen, putting that pen to paper on a contact is one of the best feelings going.
Who would you like to collaborate with and why?
Will Atkinson for sure. Not only is the man in a league of his own & you’d learn a lot, you’d always have a great laugh & probably end up missing for two days with him which isn’t bad either.
Who are your favourite producers and why?
Will Atkinson, Sam Jones & Sean Tyas. Cutting edge music coming from all three on a consistent basis. Beasts.
What do you personally consider to be the pivotal moments in your career so far?
Closing Subculture Belfast to 5000 people in my own backyard. First open to close in my favourite club in the world in Argentina & hosting the last Trance event in Belfast’s former best venue going, Mandela Hall. I am very blessed.
If you could follow in the footsteps of one legendary DJ / Producer, who would it be?
No one. I want to create my own road & legacy.
The trance scene in Ireland is huge and DJs always rave about the crowd over there. What do you think makes it so special?
Just how crazy everyone is. Every drop, break & track people just don’t stop. One of the easiest crowds to play out there. (It’s a good thing)
Do you have a day job and what would you be doing with your life if you weren’t a DJ?
I don’t. I work in music full time. God knows what I’d be doing if not DJing. I basically left school with nothing as I had no interest in doing anything else but a career in music. Thankfully it all worked out.
What would your year book quote be?
Don’t hate, appreciate.
Whats the funniest story you can tell us from a night out “On The Sesh”?
Very hard to remember specifics here to be honest haha. I woke up in a party after a rave before with almost EVERYTHING in this girls house turned upside down while she was sleeping. Sofa, tvs, pictures, microwave, fridge – you name it. Quite a few people there but it still would have been some effort. She was not amused in the slightest when she surfaced.
Do you have any bad habits?
Cronic nail biter. Like almost chew them off. Always done it from I was a kid & probably always will. I also swear a lot.
If a film got made about your life story what actor would you want to play you?
You’ve recently had a gorgeous baby girl, how has that changed your life and how is she getting on as I know she was born prematurely?
Thank you, she is perfect. She is very healthy now & home with us which is great. Not the best of starts for her but we got there in the end. Being a father is the best thing in the world. Only thing I’d trade for being a DJ!
We can’t wait to see you play at Anomaly in November, what does the rest of 2018 hold for you both in regards to DJing and Producing?
I can’t wait either! Just going to keep the studio quality & output consistent & the sets as banging as ever! See you guys in November – take care.
Massive thanks to Shugz for taking the time to speak to me. You can hear him play at Anomaly Presents in November – tickets available to by via a link on our ticket page!