Real Name: Mike Stinespring
Alias: DJ Kos
Hometown: Parkersburg, WV
Profession: Producer/ Remixer/ DJ/ Visual Artist
Hobbies: Horror, Paranormal, Movies, Traveling
Affiliations: Vestax, Buffalo DJ, Remixvidz, Mixnight
Q: After reading your Bio I see that you have been “behind the decks” for over 25 years! What were you playing when you first started and how did that evolve into the genre you are focused on today?
When I first started I used my father’s turntable to splice music together with a tape deck. This was very early in the game. I later got my own turntables in 1986. That’s where things got kinda crazy. I started becoming interested in the battle djing. I went to DMC in Chicago in 1989 where I competed. There were some big names there including Bad Boy Bill. When I first started I was mixing old school hip hop and break dancing music. It was not until later that I started mixing house and other genres of music. I was always a fan of electronic music that goes clear back to Kraftwerk. When Planet Rock came out in the break dancing days I was always amazed by its sound. Around the early 90s is when I really got deep into house music. It was then that I really started focusing on adding my scratching elements and incorporating them into my house sets.
Q: Where did the moniker KOS come from? Have you or do you use any others?
Kos came in 1982. It was a name taken from my BMX bike called the Kos Cruiser. This was the first non 20 inch racing bike ever made. Everyone started calling me Kos, and it just stuck from there. I have not used any other names. Its been Kos since 1982.
Q: Choose three verbs and why you chose them that best describe your live performance style.
Intense, Energetic, Stimulating
Intense because of how much work I put into my live shows. Energetic as anyone who has seen me live knows how much energy I project on stage. And stimulating because of the visual aspect I bring to my shows as well.
Q: How long have you been in Reno now? How is it that you became a resident of NV?
I have been in Reno now for almost 5 years. I came here with my wife in September of 2007. I became a resident of Reno because of the position I was originally offered at a local club.
Q: How long have you been producing music? When did that all start for you?
I have been producing music off and on since the early 90s, when I was working with Afro Rican in South Florida. I worked with Derrick Rahming on multiple projects and got to help with tracks that came out later including 3 of my own. Things have changed so much since then. It was mainly SP 1200 drum machine, records and a computer.
Q: Are you producing multiple genres or do you mainly stick to the four on the floor?
I stick mostly with electro and house but lately I have been really getting into some Moombahton and Moombahcore. I have started some tracks in that genre but I have not completely finished anything yet. My heart is always with house.
Q: I see that not only are you producing audio tracks, you are also producing or remixing video as well. How did that all come into play for you?
I have been fascinated with film and video pretty much all my life. In early 2004 I became very interested in using video in my live shows when I saw the Pioneer DVJ’s and seeing DJ 2nd Nature and DJ Roonie G rocking them at a trade show. I began collecting videos at that time frame and just waited for technology to catch up. I did not feel that the DVJ’s would be lasting because of the computer technology that was coming along. Once Serato launched their video plug in I jumped on. I started working on some of my own custom videos for my live shows so I would have my own content to showcase on the screens. Once I started editing my own custom videos it completely took me over. Everything else has kind of taken a back seat to it. Video editing is very time consuming. Even when you are finished with the video editing it takes a long time to render a video out. My video show is just an extension of what I do live. The music always comes first.
Q: So how does a typical day of work in the studio go for you and how do you decide what to work on? Would you say most of your production time is put into video remixing?
I get up early so I can get in plenty of time for editing. I am always searching for new tracks to cut videos for. Most of the songs I use in my shows do not already have music videos so I end up creating something myself using movies and other miscellaneous clips. I search for tracks that stand out to me, and ones that fit in my style for live shows. Most of my time in the studio is usually video editing. I try to juggle that and the audio production.
Q: What kind of hardware and software are you using?
Mac, Akai MPK25, M Audio BX5a studio monitors, Ableton, Massive, Sylenth, Song Vegas Pro 10 with tons of plugins.
What’s the one piece of your studio you could not live without?
Q: What would you say is your method of track or video selection when performing? Do you kind of have a pre-planned idea of your set per gig, or is it more crowd driven?
This depends on the type of live performance it is. Sometimes I put together sets for shows when I want them to flow a certain way. Other times, everything is on the fly. I go with the crowd.
Q: I know you have done a lot of traveling for different gigs throughout the years. If you could pull out one memory as the most wild and crazy experience you have seen, been part of etc. would you care to share it with us?
Revolution 2 in July of 2001 in Dayton Ohio. I was doing a 2x4 set with DJ Xavier. This was one of the largest electronic events Ohio or the Midwest had seen at that time. There were over 5,000 people there and they had to turn away people because of fire code. Xavier and I put on our best show ever. The crowd was unreal. We played right before Bad Boy Bill and the vibe was through the roof! It was an experience I will never forget. My opening set for Crystal Method at the Knitting Factory was a mind blowing moment for me as well. We actually captured that one on video, which you can see on the internet. Just google DJ Kos live at the Knitting Factory and it’s the first thing that comes up.
Q: How’s 2012 working out for Dj Kos? Any bookings, releases or collaborations we can look forward to in the upcoming months?
2012 is going to be one of those years that everything takes off. I have my hands in many different projects and they are all different in their own ways. I have been working on tracks with one of my friends. His name is Alex Maatinez and he is one to look out for! I will be headlining at a huge festival on August 4th, 2012 in Butternuts, NY with Jelo and Lazy Rich. I am really looking forward to this. I am also going to be working with Nick Groff from the tv show Ghost Adventures. We are going to be doing some shows together and I am going to be remixing one of his tracks from his album. I feel 2012 is going to be a great year.
Q: What's the one track that you never leave home without?
Hmm that’s a hard one. Music changes so much so I am always changing my favorites.
Q: If you had to choose one track as a favorite, whether it be one of yours or someone else’s, what would you choose?
Probably Zedd new track Spectrum.
Q: Who are your favorite musicians, producers and or Dj’s that you listen to, play and have been influenced by?
Porter Robinson, Zedd, Bingo Players, Dillon Francis, Skrillex, Knife Party, Kill The Noise, Bad Boy Bill, DJ Spryte
Q: Would you like to suggest any artists for others to look into that has really gained your respect musically? Any shout outs?
Kairo Kingdom. These guys are going to be making some noise for sure. I just cut a video for their new track.
Big shout out to everyone who has always been a true friend.
Q: On social networks I have been noticing a lot of comments towards the different formats Dj’s use to play live these days. Midi Controller, Laptop, Turntables, Cdj’s etc. What’s your preference for performing? Do you have any thoughts about the progression of technology regarding the tools of the new age Dj?
This sure is a huge topic now a days. I used vinyl for over 22 years. I then moved onto the cdjs in 2003. Everyone always looked down on them at that time frame. I told everyone that they better get use to it because the cdjs will become the standard and that vinyl will be dead in less than 5 years. I was close. Vinyl really started to go away pretty fast. Technology is a wonderful thing. It can also be a bad thing. I have recently gotten back on board with Vestax and I have moved into the controller market. Vestax has a ground breaking controller coming out called the VCI 380. I feel that this is going to change the controller game. I completely understand a lot of djs will probably never move onto a controller. After all my years in this I have progressed and I feel now is a perfect time for me to move forward once again with technology. Now that Serato has made the Serato Video plugin it will now enable me to use my video show with this new controller from Vestax. I am very excited about it. After the equipment nightmares I have had over the years when I travel I”m glad to be able to have my own set up on each and every gig now. Its also nice to be able to practice on the plane or in the hotel room with this new piece of gear. Its also nice not to break my back carrying around the huge road case that would hold my cdjs and mixer. It just makes life much easier. We all move forward in life normally, and I feel that this is no exception. I think the controllers can really help out a lot of artists. I know there is the whole back end of it that a lot of us do not like, and that being that some people think they can just get a laptop and a controller and be a superstar. We all know that’s not how it works, but now these days you have a “me” generation and a ton of people who do not want to put in the work or pay the dues. They feel they are owed something. So with that in mind I see why a lot of djs do not like the controllers, but I know there are also plenty of beginners who buy laptops and tables and think since they can use Serato to stare at the screen and match beats. We all know if you took the laptops out of the equation then A TON of djs would be gone. Actually the word D J means nothing anymore when you have stars like Paris Hilton who decide they want to travel as a D J. We never had this problem back in the day when we all used vinyl. But with technology comes the great things and the bad things as well. We all just have to embrace it and keep moving forward. In the end its all about the music. Not your status or how famous you are.
Q: You have been in the EDM scene long enough to see some changes in many different aspects of the electronic culture? What would you say is the most exciting change you have seen or maybe even have been a part of?
I think the explosion of electronic music in the U.S. is long over due. I saw it coming a while back. I am just glad that I always stuck with it and never gave up.
Q: What would you say are the best and worst things about being a Dj/Vj?
The best thing is that I have the chance to share my visions with other people at my shows. Its nice to be able to give people a whole other experience with my videos and visuals.
The worse thing would be that the world has still not caught up with that end of the technology. Its hard to get every show hooked up with a full audio/visual experience.
Q: What are your thoughts on file sharing websites, record pools and blogs vs. file purchasing websites?
Sharing is always going to exist. Nothing that can be done about it. What we can all do is support and try to still purchase our audio and video from legit websites.
Q: Out of all the types of events you have played, which type is your favorite and why?
Any type of electronic show or festival. These shows allow me to fully express my full audio and visual experience.
Q: What do you think your life would be like if you didn’t choose the path of music production and live performance?
That’s a great question. My interest before music came along was to be a Marine Biologist. I have always loved fish and continue to this day.
Q: What are you doing when you’re not out playing or working on music?
Usually watching my DVR that is loaded with my tv shows, practicing with the new equipment, traveling, working around the house on the yard, and watching movies.
Q: So where do you see the future of EDM heading, what would you like to see?
I feel EDM is only going to continue to grow here in the U.S. I want to see people really grasp and start to understand EDM and how much it has influenced music.
Q: Any suggestions for other artists or promoters, either up and coming or just in general?
Be honest, be original, be yourself, put in your time before you try to play large shows and events. Make sure you are ready. And remember that you can not please everyone.
Jun 2012 Spotlight
- Chris Rizin