Guest Selector: Theo Kottis

Edinburgh's emerging talent shares the records that have shaped his taste in music, ahead sets at FLY CLUB Open Air Festival in Edinburgh and at Manchester's Warehouse Project

Feature by Claire Francis | 09 Sep 2016

Theo Kottis is certainly a local talent on the rise – since the release of his debut EP Waiting Game on the Moda Black label in late 2014, he's already gone on to play alongside the likes of Jamie Jones, Tale Of Us, Seth Troxler and Nicolas Jaar. As part of FLY CLUB's upcoming Open Air Festival, Kottis joins a top line-up of Booka Shade, Mr G, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Detroit Swindle and more, for Edinburgh's first inner-city, open air festival at the foot of the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Ahead of the shows, he shares with us the records that have inspired his burgeoning career.

"The music I've chosen to share comes from all stages of my life," Kottis explains. "Some have stayed with me as favourites but others have formed great memories I often go back to when producing. I've kept my list original and raw; my shortlist included some obvious classics, but I delved deeper. I won't lie that I could have been tempted to opt for ten songs that show my 'matured tastes' to impress the chin strokers – but these are the tracks that mean the most to me, and have influenced and inspired me."

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here [1975]

A timeless album ahead of its time. It’s a tribute to former band member Syd Barrett, who suffered from a mental breakdown. When Pink Floyd were recording the album, Syd appeared at the studio, quietly watching at the back. He was un-recognisable as he had completely shaved his head and eyebrows. Eventually the band realised it was him and were reduced to tears.

I recently watched a documentary about their story and found it fascinating – I got into it and have scoped more and more documentaries since. I love seeing music being celebrated and explored in such a profound way. The guitar, synth and saxophone sounds throughout the album are beautiful; listening to this when I was younger motivated me to learn to play the guitar. Please listen to this album in its entirety, it is perfection.

Tame Impala – Lonerism [2012]

Tame Impala often get compared to albums from the late 60s and early 70s and I love that. Kevin Parker, the lead singer, also writes and produces all of the tracks; he is a real idol of mine. He uses a lot of synths and new technology that I can relate to and experiments to recreate sounds of psychedelic rock. I think he is very similar to electronic producers as he doesn’t write a typical verse and chorus, he plays around with the arrangement of tracks.

Brian Eno – Music for Airports [1978]

Brian Eno… what a legend! I love his experimental and minimalistic approach to music. I always listen to this album when I can’t sleep, it helps clear my head. The album was designed to ‘defuse the tense, anxious atmosphere of an airport terminal.’ Sometimes when I am travelling to my gigs I’ll get this on and fall asleep on the plane so easily!

Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians [1992]

Once I heard this album I couldn’t stop listening to it all the way through, it really grabbed my attention. It's one of those I can put on in the background when I start working, only to realise by the end I've been blissfully unaware of the task at hand.

Soul Capsule – Lady Science (NYC Sunrise) [1999]

The greatest house record written in my opinion – pure beauty. I listen to this and float away, it’s a classic. I closed my set with this at a sold-out O2 Academy Brixton when I supported Paul Kalkbrenner, and I received the biggest applause. Goosebumps!

St Germain – Rose Rouge [2000]

An edit of this has been a regular in most of my sets for the last year. I played this on NYE 2015 in Edinburgh. Kerri Chandler was also on the bill, so I had to pull out all the stops. When he heard me play this, he ran up on the stage and started playing the keys live alongside me. The energy in the club was electric. I’ll never forget this moment, there was a bond formed and we have stayed in touch since.

Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy [1991]

I really love string orchestras and they sound perfect on this record. The strings were originally recorded on synths, a technique I use, but they eventually recorded a real orchestra at Abbey Road Studio to emphasise and enhance the sound. I wish I could do that! It was released the year I was born and I love playing an edit that fits in my sets perfectly.

DJ Shadow – Private Press [2002]

Tough choice between this album and his Endtroducing... album. Vivid memories of listening to this when I was younger before I really knew what sampling & being a DJ were. I guess my subconscious knew I was going to end up working in this industry!

Tiesto – In Search of Sunrise 6: Ibiza [2007]

Maybe this isn't something I should be admitting to, but aged 15 I was a huge trance fan. None of my friends were interested, but I remember constantly trying to introduce them to this album. I was so into it. I remember when Tiesto played in Edinburgh in 2007, I was 16 and absolutely gutted as I was too young to go to the gig. Even my mum told me to get a fake ID as she knew how much I loved this album. Funnily enough, the likes of Matthew Dekay were releasing music on this series and his label, 'All Day I Dream' with Lee Burridge, has become one of my current favourites.

Moby – Play [1999]

Shout out to my aunt for this one. I always used to visit her in Scotland when I visited on summer holidays from Greece. She always had new CDs she would let me borrow. I was 8 years old and I remember trying to breakdance to this. Moby made history with this album as it was the first of a kind to license out every single track to an ad, film or TV show. Marketing genius!

Kottis plays FLY CLUB Open Air Festival, Ross Bandstand, Edinburgh, 24 Sep, 12-10pm, £24.50-35, and Circus at Warehouse Project, Store St, Manchester, 8 Oct, sold out