Simon Birkumshaw went from throwing house parties in his hometown of Essex to hosting some of the UKs best underground events in Southend. Driven by a charismatic personality and untamable passion, the Sense Traxx boss has earned a name for his brand as a creditable record label and curator of top house and techno parties amongst the underground circuit. Without a doubt, head honcho Simon Birkumshaw is a true inspiration to the scene with no sign of slowing down any time soon.
Listen to the exclusive premiere for Kalyde – Eighty Nine (Kincaid & Sinal Remix) and discover the mastermind behind Sense Traxx aka Simon Birkumshaw in an interview we did with him below. Steep yourself a ☕️ – or in Simon’s case, a coffee with two sugars because he doesn’t like tea – and check it out!
🎶 Exclusive Sense Traxx Premiere 🎶
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Kalyde – Eighty Nine (Kincaid & Sinal Remix) [Sense Traxx]
Taken from Kalyde’s ‘No Sleep’ EP // pre-order your copy from Beatport here
MCOT: So Simon, can you tell us the story behind how Sense Traxx was born?
Simon Birkumshaw: Sense was actually born off the back of an annual house party at mine; as it progressed and the number of people that were attending grew, I had to move to a local venue. Plus, the clean-up operation the next day was too much for a sore head haha. It was at this point that I felt there was potential to take this to the next level… After moving to a local bar, we also continued to pack this out and then moved to Southend which had a larger market and option of venues.
MCOT: Having worked for one of the biggest labels in the scene, Defected, what was your most valuable skill you took away from it that you still use on a daily work basis.
Simon Birkumshaw: I learnt many things from Defected, perhaps one of the greatest things I took from it was understand the infrastructure of running such a huge beast in the modern industry, knowing how everything works in sync with each other and the importance of branding.
I could go on all day about different things, but I still look at it as a huge inspiration to what can be achieved; they have continued to grow and push the limits and capacity to which they work in, achieving so much in many areas – I try to ensure I am doing the same with what I do and the labels I am involved with now.
When signing music for Sense we try and sign something that is a little different to the normal, yes the argument could be that it’s ‘just’ House, Deep House and Tech House, but we always aim for some good hooky and interesting elements to the music that makes you listen twice.
MCOT: What’s a day in the life like running the legendary Kerri Chandler’s Madhouse and MadTech labels?
Simon Birkumshaw: Stressful, haha. No, it’s not so bad, it’s always pretty crazy to think I have been trusted to run, progress and develop these labels. It’s pretty much a case of balancing everything. Everything from A&R, Branding, Marketing, Events and all the other bits that pretty much hold it together have to be juggled. We are going through a massive change with both labels and over the years these labels have played host to some of the biggest records Kerri has produced. The important thing I have to remember is that these are not my labels and the sound and image they reflect should not be something that I personally want to push. Although yes, I do love all the music we release, I wouldn’t sign it otherwise, but these reflect the sound that Kerri has be known for over the many years. I like to think that with what we are doing with both labels we are keeping true to that sound, but still pushing things forward and keeping current to the new scene and sounds of music. Anyone who follows the labels would hopefully see this from the socials and releases over the past 8/10months, and if you haven’t I can only suggest you go and check it out.
MCOT: What are your top 3 rising artists to keep a close eye on?
Simon Birkumshaw: I have quite a wide range of music on my palate along with an eye in different scenes.
Firstly, I would have to say Cinthie – she is producing and pushing everything we are doing with Madhouse. We also have Dennis Quin who has a more modern approach to House and his productions, but nevertheless still producing some quality music and also someone becoming a lot more involved with the Madhouse family.
Over on MadTech, we have got two amazing producers: Kalyde and Made By Pete, both of whom are very talented, passionate and making fantastic music which is helping us to reposition MadTech, and hopefully give them a great platform to get their music heard.
Outside of the label world, producers such as: James Curd, Peggy Gou and Denis Sulta are all names that I am loving right now.
Simon Birkumshaw: Never doubt yourself and don’t be scared to take a risk – never be afraid to fail.
MCOT: From house parties to clubs, can you tell us how the Sense Traxx events have evolved over the years?
Simon Birkumshaw: I think it’s been a case of natural progression, I have never based Sense on one music policy nor chased after what is the latest craze, I do feel though that we have aimed to put on a damn good party. We have always predominantly stuck to good quality house and techno music, but as we have made and lost money, we have leant about what works and what doesn’t. As we have moved into bigger venues, we have found it easier to book large names to join us and we now focus a lot more on the production than we used to.
MCOT: Do you have plans to grow the Sense Traxx parties into new territories in 2018?
Simon Birkumshaw: 100%, that is pretty much one of my main targets for next year. As much as I love Southend, and know it has and still does play a key part with Sense, if Sense is to continue growing and making its name known, it must move away from Southend and build a presence in other locations. Next year my aim is to get Sense going in London, we have done a few international events but the importance is to build the following up in the UK and London, and hopefully we can branch out across other parts of the UK after that.
MCOT: What’s your plan for the label in 2018?
Simon Birkumshaw: Build, Build and build. There is always work to be done with the label being and having a very successful launch we are now starting to grow our name on platforms such as Beatport and other digital stores. Next year my target is to really push and get some larger names on the roster to build our profile. We have been fortunate to have the last few releases chart on Beatport and we are consistently charting on Traxsource, it’s just about keeping active on socials, developing the label’s profile and keeping consistent.
MCOT: Your upcoming Kalyde EP on Sense Traxx is nearly out, congratulations! What would you say sets this EP apart from previous releases?
Simon Birkumshaw: Thanks, this is one we are very pleased to have drop! Kalyde is a good friend as well as a talented producer, it’s a pleasure to be working with him closely and making him more embedded with Sense as one of our leading residents. Kalyde’s sound is very distinctive and works great in the club. When signing music for Sense we try and sign something that is a little different to the normal, yes the argument could be that it’s ‘just’ House, Deep House and Tech House, but we always aim for some good hooky and interesting elements to the music that makes you listen twice.
As we look at getting the events going in London, Kalyde is also going to be one of our main residents alongside our other core DJ/residents such as Tom Jay and myself.
MCOT: For those who haven’t heard it yet, can you describe Kalyde EP in 3 words?
Simon Birkumshaw: Energetic, Fluent and forward-thinking. Or, as we call it: Sassy Techno.
MCOT: If you could go back in time 10 years ago and tell your past self only 1 thing, what would it be and why?
Simon Birkumshaw: Never doubt yourself and don’t be scared to take a risk – never be afraid to fail. I would probably tell myself that I should have pushed to get a career in music at an earlier stage in my life so I had even long to make a success from it.
MCOT: And for our favorite (and possibly most important) question that we ask all our guests, how do you take your tea?
Simon Birkumshaw: I don’t actually like tea (sorry!) – but a coffee with two sugars will do the job and keep me going through the day.