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We sit down with Warehouse Project resident DJ, Krysko

Written by Sophie Hall.
Posted March 5, 2024.

Matthew Krysko, known by his stage name, Krysko, has been starting parties in some of the most world’s most iconic venues, from The Warehouse Project in Manchester to Pikes in Ibiza. We chat to him about his life and how he developed such a successful DJ career.

Tell me a little bit about who you are, where it first started out, in terms of DJ and creativity, and where you’re at right now?

“I’m from Bradford, West Yorkshire originally. I grew up there and made my way to Manchester when I was about 20 so I’ve lived here longer than I lived in Yorkshire. It’s been 20, 25 years now.”

“I got into it the way a lot of kids my age did in the early nineties, it was mix tapes through mates, older brothers, going out, seeing the flyers in and around Leeds and things like that. From when I was young, I first went on some decks and just thought, this is what I want to do, and that was it.”

“It was the usual route, local parties, and things like that. And then I entered a competition via Mix Mag in 97, 98 maybe – to win a residency by sending in a mixtape.” I learnt from the world best though, Back to Basics with Boggy, Woolford, Ralph Lawson as residents, I’d be there every week to watch them play. 

“Then I got a residency at The Void in Stoke, which used to be Shelly’s nightclub, and it was a Sunday daytime party club, which didn’t go very well. I met Sam Kandel there when I played the first night, and he said they were reopening Sankeys Soap. This is after it shut down the first time, which was like year 2000. He said they were doing a house night on a Saturday, and I sent a mix tape in. Eventually got the residency at The Redlight, I was pretty much there two nights a weekend for five or six years, constantly. So that was my first BIG residency.”

Sankeys Soap was a global club, whose roots spread from Ancoats, Manchester, all the way to Tokyo. The venue closed and reopened in a few guises over the decades from the 90’s then in January 2017 it closed for good after being sold to residential developers. 

Krysko playing at Sankeys Soap - 2004
Krysko playing at Sankeys Soap – 2004

That’s some residency to nail as well. Sankeys Soap is obviously stooped with history, almost as famous as Hacienda?

“For my generation growing up in Manchester, it held a similar mythical reputation as the Hac did, no doubt, as we were all too young to have gone to the Hacienda. I was fully aware of it a few years before while I was growing up in and around Leeds. From the early Bugged Out days that included Daft Punk, Derrick Carter, Green Velvet, of course The Chemical Brothers when they first started, and residents like James Holroyd who was a hero of mine (and still is).”

“Them years at Sankeys, you know, they were amazing, 20 years old, with all my mates that I’m still close friends with now.”

Sankeys Soap - 2003
Sankeys Soap – 2003

Clubbing as a way of life for young people was so drastically different to the way it is for today’s generation, wasn’t it?

“In a way yes, I think back when I started going out it was more accessible to a wider demographic, in that it was more affordable in some way, and we lived in different times for that to be supported.”

But at its core, it was a community in a space where 500 young 20-year-olds going to the same place every weekend and hanging out for two days afterwards together, day and night, there’s endless catalysts and opportunity for a lot of creative things happening.”

“People now that were regulars at Sankeys are my closest friends, everyone’s doing all sorts of stuff born out of those environments, so quite much like a melting pot where things happen in people, creating things like that across all different aspects of arts and culture… even when you get too old to go out as often as you did, you still got that connection to all them things.”

Tell me about your first moments moving to Manchester?

“I was dating a girl at Salford Uni, and [Sankeys] happened around the same time, so I just pretty much moved over at that point and thought, why not? It got me out of the little town I grew up in and I didn’t look back after that.”

“I lived in Salford for about five years with a load of different mates and eventually moved into town. It was very different place at that time, but we all pretty much lived in the Northern Quarter, which was a bit rougher than what it is now…

“It’s like a village city, almost, if you go out often, you tend to know everybody, or know a lot of people.”

Krysko with legendary DJ François Kevorkian at Sankeys - 2004
Krysko with legendary DJ François Kevorkian at Sankeys – 2004

It’s amazing how quick all that kind of stuff starts to click. Do you think that’s Manchester? Do you see that in other cities?

“I think Manchester has been able to sustain that type of city for a lot longer and build on it as well…”

“You can look at Manchester over any five-year period. There’s always been X number of clubs, that have been a real beacon for people to come to from the rest of the country… it’s always had a good, healthy scene, whereas some other cities haven’t been as lucky to re-generate themselves in a way that Manchester has been able”

For Manchester, it’s got music as a story, hasn’t it?

“It’s always drawn certain types of people towards it, all my friends who came to uni here are still living here…people who were born here move away, then a lot of them come back. It’s always had a pull for creatives.”

Why do you think that is, what brings them back?

“It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, its reputation has always been there… but it’s just been a pull for creative people, talented people. I think when people make it in this city, there is always a community feel to it on every level, everyone kind of tends to help each other out and look out for each other. This cross pollination across different scenes, has always happened.

“It can be quite a tough city if you come here for the wrong reasons, if you just try to take something out of it you won’t last very long.”

You never really know where one of those little interactions is going to take you and how it might support you further on in life, right?

“Yeah, I don’t do DJing full time anymore, I’m back to doing it because I just enjoy doing it. I run We Are Indigo with my wife Gemma, and we built it up together, a lot of that we built up using our contacts… and that’s what this city helps you do really.”

We Are Indigo is a PR and Events company founded by his wife, Gemma and Matthew.

Let’s rewind to the early days, Sankeys Soup… repaint that picture for us and tell us about some of the great DJ’s you’ve set the foundations for:

“I remember there was a Frankie Knuckles Ministry of Sound compilation night, around ‘94 ’95 or something like that. I remember saving up and buying this quadruple pack LP and reading the sleeve notes of this album, which was kind of pre-internet really (in terms of getting info on music history), the notes gave me all this amazing information about Frankie Knuckles, the warehouse in Chicago, what he did, where it all came from. Just a few years later, I’m warming up for him at Sankey Soap.”

“There was the Laurent Garnier night around 2002 I think, where he did his Unreasonable Behaviour Tour, I think there was about 1,800 in there, in a 800 capacity club. Times like that, it was just so intense, in a good way.”

Krysko with Nile Rodgers and Sam Kandel
Krysko with Nile Rodgers and Sam Kandel

Let’s move forward. Now, obviously, you’ve got this relationship with Sam, who you met in Stoke, who then goes on to set up the Warehouse Project. What were his foundations for doing that? And then, obviously he brought you in, to effectively be the main resident there?

“Well, I was living with Sam at the time during, Sankeys Soap years, and at the back end of when it shut down. The WHP happened relatively quickly after that, they found the old Boddingtons Brewery site just by the area. I think the following September it opened for what was the template to come, September to December every year.

The Brewery site was ok, but when we moved to Store Street is when it really made its mark on the city. That was 18 years ago, and now at Depot it is one of the most recognised and respected series of event in the world. Last season we did Antwerp, Rotterdam and this May we are taking WHP to Sydney and Melbourne, so yeah, very exciting times…”

Warehouse Project Rotterdam Credit: @sophiajcarey
Warehouse Project Rotterdam Credit: @sophiajcarey

Obviously, life’s different for you now Matthew, you’ve started a family. How does that affect your ability to remain part of this house music and DJ community?

“Scenes like this are for young people, and they’re created from young minds with young people in mind. They are sustained by young people paying money to go to them.

“I’m fully aware that the Sankeys Soap days and the first ten years of WHP were my peak days. My specific taste in music would not bring in 12,000 people in every week, every Friday and Saturday! I think you’ve got to be aware of who these nights gear towards, and who the crowds are.”

“25 years ago, things were quite linear in that, going back to Sankeys, the Friday was techno, tech house and stuff like that. Saturday was house. There was a big crossover but they were two different crowds. The thought of that nowadays, you can get away with playing all sorts nowadays and people don’t think twice about it but back then nights were quite linear in the music that they played (on the whole anyway). Nowadays thankfully, the plus is you can book people right across the board and people are down for it.”

WHP final show at Store Street
WHP final show at Store Street

So, if we stop looking in the past now, if you were just moving to Manchester right now, what would your advice be for 2024’s Matt who wants to get out and DJ?

“Don’t worry too much about trying to get out there and make a business from it all. The key thing is to go out, immerse yourself in the world. If you’ve got a talent for it or you want to do it, you go out, see what the cities like, go to White Hotel, to every venue you possibly can, become part of scene. You could start your own night. I know it’s difficult nowadays, but it happens all the time.” “Do it because you love doing it and good things will happen from there.”

Where has DJing taken you over the past 25 years.

“I’ve been lucky to play all over the world, across most of Europe, the US, Russia. I’ve spent a lot of time in Croatia over the last few decades since the beginnings of The Garden, Love International, Electric Elephant.”

So, final question: Since you don’t like looking back at the past, where is your favourite venue to play now?

“I like small venues I’ve never played at before and you know out of the way so not necessarily big cities, I’ve always preferred pleasant surprises to sure fire bets!”

“Now, I do love Pikes. In terms of what I like to play nowadays, and the types of crowds that you get there, it is definitely up there, along with Barbarella’s in Croatia, and many many more…”

Check out Krysko on the gram… you guessed it, @krysko.

Watch this space for more chats with artists who played the Union launch event!