Taking a keen interest in music from a young age, London-born Lewis started out tinkering on the family piano – “it was there in the house so it was natural for me to play around on it” – before graduating to the bass guitar at the age of 8, experimenting with “a variety of funk, soul and jazz, and lots of elaborate bass sections.” Playing bass sparked something in him and he confesses “it probably drew me towards the production style and the sound I have”, a sound which is firmly rooted in the groove while taking in a myriad of influences, from the classic to the contemporary.
A defining moment came when Jankel’s dad brought home a copy of Logic 5, opening him up to the world of music production and all its possibilities: “I started messing around remaking songs I liked and I quickly realized I had a love for everything bass heavy – a lot of House, Garage, 2-step, Hip Hop, Crunk... and Industrial Folkstep of course.” All jokes and Industrial Folkstep aside, with Logic in his life Lewis spent the last few years honing his composition and production skills, but something was missing...
The final piece in the puzzle came into play following his final year at school, when Lewis decided to throw his voice into the mix. It was the right decision. A smooth and soulful delivery, sharp lyrics and infectious melodies, often chopped, looped and layered, marry with brazen beats and seismic bass to devastating effect. Lewis recalls his decision as being spurred by “a desire to always include some sort of harmonic tonality throughout the whole release and not just to make it ambiguous atonal dance music”. And so Shift K3Y was born, like Calvin and Pharrell before him equal parts studio pro and charismatic frontman, at the helm both in front of the mic and behind the mixing desk. He’s the full package.
Shift K3Y’s debut release, a 4 track EP titled ‘Step In The City’, landed in 2011 on Marco Del Horno’s Bullet Train Records and pneumatic opening number ‘Manage Ya’ soon pricked up the ears of tastemakers in the club and across the airwaves, with support coming from key protagonists at BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra. Remix offers soon flooded in both here and across the Atlantic for the likes of Tinie Tempah, Kat Dahlia, Iggy Azalea and King L, and his energetic rework of AlunaGeorge’s recent single ‘Attracting Flies’ garnered recognition from blog royalty Pitchfork and The Fader. To date Shift K3Y’s records and remixes have been spun by BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac (who named him ‘One To Watch’ and premiered vocal-led 2step triumph ‘What We Had’ earlier this year), MistaJam and Huw Stephens, 1Xtra’s DJ Target, Capital’s Andi Durrant and DJ EZ and Swerve at KISS, in a list that just keeps getting longer.