DJ to some of London’s best nights, a classically trained musician and long-time face of Soho’s legendary Black Market Records, Hilit Kolet is the need-to-know artist ready to take the world by storm.
Her debut production, ‘Techno Disco’, came out on Defected in fall 2021 and is loved and supported by Jovonn, Todd Edwards, Harry Romero, Heidi Lawden, John Summit, Roger Sanchez, Terry Farely, Riva Starr, Syreeta and many more. It reached #1 on Music Week’s Upfront Club Chart, #1 on Traxsource’s House chart and #3 on Shazam’s UK discovery chart, making it one of 2021’s biggest records.
Hilit is also known for her hi-octane DJ sets and has wowed the crowds at XOYO, Ministry of Sound, Egg Club, Dalston Superstore in London, Renate, Sisyphons, Ritter Butzke in Berlin and elsewhere around the globe.
We caught up with the rising talent and got to know a little more about the world of Hilit Kolet:
Hi Hilit, thanks for joining us. Let’s kick things off with you telling our audience a little about your journey so far?
Sure thing, thanks for having me! My name is Hilit and I’m a music lover, musician, DJ, producer, music collector… not sure about the order but you get the idea!
My mum was a piano teacher and I played the piano & studied classical music at the local conservatoire all through my childhood. I was there four times per week, studying music theory, music literature, performing with the orchestra… At some point, when I was about 12, I fell in love with dance and electronic music as well as rave culture, and that gradually moved me away from classical music while becoming a life-long passion or more like an obsession.
I was so in love with this music that I wanted to share it with the world! I started broadcasting on various radio stations as a teenager and also worked as a music journalist and as a dance music TV presenter. After I moved to London, I worked for Black Market Records and that led me to DJing in clubs and festivals pretty organically. At the same time, I was also working in a big recording studio that had a huge synth collection and various DAWs. I started toying around with everything whenever I could and eventually started producing my own music.
You recently had a release on the globally-renowned Defected imprint. How did that release come about, and was there any specific inspiration behind it?
I think the inspiration behind ‘Techno Disco’ was the UK festival scene. I love playing festivals and I wanted to make a big, bad, fun festival banger. It’s probably the default set-up I have in my head when I’m in the studio making music. Having said that, I have a lot of unreleased tunes in all kinds of vibes. With ‘Techno Disco’, I was messing with the 909 after having come back from playing a festival, maybe it was Secret Garden Party. I put the track together and after about a week or so, kinda just woke up with the topline.
I recorded myself for demo purposes and played it out, it got a really good reaction and a few mates suggested I left my vocals in, but I felt like the track needed something different. I tried a few vocalists until one day I flicked through some samba photos and saw one of me and Kay (Elizabeth) – we used to dance the Samba together. It was like, Baaaam! How come I haven’t thought of her before?! I’m glad I was patient with this track, Kay did an amazing job with her husky, sexy, dope ass voice.
What does ‘Techno Disco’ actually mean?
Ooh, I’m glad you’re asking this, some of the comments I got were ‘this is not techno OR disco, it’s HOUSE, so what are the lyrics all about?’. Well, ‘Techno Disco’ is just a vibe, a feeling, a buzz… it’s more of an idiomatic phrase and just another way to say ‘house music’ or ‘rave culture’ really.
It’s winking a little towards the hype which this or that genre gets every few years, while in reality, at the same time, genre definitions are getting pretty blurry – everything merges and melts into and influences everything. So yeah, the words are a little tongue in cheek; music is and can be very serious – my classical music childhood certainly attests to this – but it can and should also be fun! I think people forget that sometimes.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be and why?
Maybe ‘get them drums!’. I always wanted to learn how to drum but we had three pianos at home, and that was that. I did end up tap dancing instead of drumming, so my parents had a fair amount of noise to deal with after all… I’m trying to make up for it now by taking weekly drum lessons – I absolutely love it.
Lastly, tell us about any exciting projects or other upcoming announcements you’d like to share.
Ooh, there’s a lot! I have more music coming in 2022, which I just can’t wait for you to hear. I’m also working on some exciting remixes, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and there are going to be some big DJ shows… Not a lot of sleep though, I suspect!