South Africa’s Kyle Watson and funky duo The Sponges talk about their recent collaboration “The Ratchet Express,” livestreaming, COVID-19, and more.
With everything going on in the world, a bouncy house track is just what the doctor ordered. That’s exactly what we got from the house genius and funky flair of Kyle Watson and The Sponges. They combined forces to make “The Ratchet Express,” a perfect track for lifting your mood and getting your feet moving!
The Sponges burst into the scene and made a name for themselves with infectious tunes like “Space Funk ’75,” while Kyle Watson has been securing his place as a house music king show after show, and now, livestream after livestream. It’s been a wild ride following their journeys and growth over the years.
The chemistry between these three is palpable. They clearly gel on a musical level, and on a personal level too! That connection shines through in the seamless, perfectly balanced mixture of their sounds in “The Ratchet Express.” Even more impressive, they created this track across oceans from each other and had a great time doing it.
We were so excited to have the opportunity to chat with the duo as they shared an insight into their creative processes, experiences with quarantine and livestreaming, and even gave us some words of wisdom to hold us over until we’re able to groove together in real life again. So read on for the full text of our interview and stream “The Ratchet Express” below or on your favorite platform. We dare you not to dance.
Stream Kyle Watson and The Sponges — “The Ratchet Express”
Hey Kyle Watson and The Sponges, thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. How have you all been holding up during the quarantine, and Kyle, for those who might be unaware, what was the response like in South Africa?
Kyle: Yo! I’ve been all good, I’m missing playing shows of course but truthfully I’m not missing the amount of travelling I was doing so the time at home has been refreshing! The response here to COVID has been pretty strict, we had a hard lockdown for over a month and they are only easing up a bit now.
The Sponges: We are chillin. Our whole life has been a nonstop cycle of hellish realities, harsh betrayals and unfortunate circumstances. This has actually been a very comfortable work space for us. Cheers!
Kyle, you heard The Sponges’ recent hit, “Space Funk 75,” and knew you wanted to work with Nik and Ryan. What about that track, and their sound, drew you to them over all the other music out there?
K: Man I love these wild f**kers. Their music is so unique and the way that they sample and create grooves with such high energy is super fresh. I had been playing their stuff out since Space Funk and their music always got crazy reactions.
Now, you’ve both come together to release “The Ratchet Express”! How was the experience working together in quarantine? Did you have to do things differently? What were some of the challenges?
K: We actually wrote the record before the world went insane, but since we live in different countries we just sent stems between each other.
TS: This was the first collab we have ever done, and we couldn’t be more happy with how the whole process went. Kyle was an absolute pleasure to work with- he’s also extremely handsome.
If there was a conductor driving The Ratchet Express forward, who would it be and where would they be heading?
K: A dreadlocked techno James Brown in star sunglasses while a rave happens in the coaches as they make their way into the desert to lose themselves
Kyle, we saw you’re going to be DJ’ing on a helipad for Helivation on June 6th and 7th. What’s been your experience with live-streaming as opposed to playing at festivals and shows? Do you feel like it’s presented an opportunity to play somewhere you might not have otherwise?
K: Streaming has been something interesting to get used to, obviously a big switch from playing shows with people in front of you. The good thing about the streams is that your performances can reach a lot more people than if you just went and did shows in specific cities, so hopefully once things start opening up and returning to relative normality there will be a wider audience for live shows.
Nik and Ryan, we saw you recently played at Elements festival livestream! How has the live-streaming experience been for you? Do you still feel connected to your fans?
TS: We had a little watch-party with our friends during the stream, it was a good ol’ time. The support we got on the stream was really awesome to see!
When you’re both preparing for these livestreams, do you approach the curation of the music you play any differently than before? What’s that process like?
K: This is a double-edged sword for me. I have so much new content to showcase but since it lives online, a select few have been ripping the exclusives out of the video and reposting them up on the net for others to hear. I’m talking about music that hasn’t even come out yet, music I finished just a week before. So I have to keep that in mind when building playlists. On the other hand, it’s been a good way for me to dig into my library and find older records I forgot about!
TS: We played mostly songs that we would play at our show. We had a rough plan and ran through it a couple times before recording it. It was a little tricky to end it right at the hour mark.
Kyle, we’ve taken a peek into your monthly studio sessions on Patreon. What inspired you to create that channel? How has it been sharing your process with your fans and with other producers?
K: I was getting asked a lot by my fans to do sessions on production and to show the way I write my music, and when sh*t hit the fan it presented the perfect opportunity to put time into that I otherwise would have been spending touring and traveling. It has also been a great way to supplement the loss of a revenue stream, plus it’s been rewarding to connect with those who really deeply appreciate my craft.
Nik and Ryan, as growing artists, how does it feel to see your name on huge lineups like Shambhala? What festival would be your absolute dream to perform at when this is all over?
TS: We come from the festival world as fans, so to see our name on lineups next to artists we look up to is very surreal. Our first festival experience was Bonnaroo, so that would be an absolute dream come true to be a part of!
Finally, many people in the world are facing adversity right now whether it is mental health struggles, COVID-19, or the fight against injustice. What words can you offer to your fans to help uplift them during these trying times?
K: This virus has disrupted the entire world, but it’s important to remember that this way of life won’t last forever. Focus on the positives that have come out of this, like the opportunity to spend a bit more time at home. Strengthen relationships with those you love and look forward to the future when we can all get back to the things we enjoy!
TS: Chaos is a ladder.