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Fresh Kicks 199: AK Sports

LA-based Aussie DJ and producer AK Sports records a breakneck rave mix for the Fresh Kicks series, and chats to Ben Hindle about finding their sound in London, the joys of genre fusion, and their WARP MODE warehouse parties with Bianca Oblivion and Star Eyes

AK Sports first got involved with music booking bands at a bar in Bondi Beach, Australia. Just known as Madi Carr back then, they quickly moved into electronic music promotion and eventually DJing. But with Eora/Sydney’s draconian lockout laws — which forced venues to stop serving drinks and close early, causing a vast number to shut down — hamstringing nightlife, it was moving to London that allowed them to really flourish. “I definitely feel a strong connection to England,” she says, explaining that not only does she have family in the UK, but the culture is very similar to Australia.

“When I started producing, and I moved to London, I was really able to focus on what was satisfying me artistically and my true tastes,” they tell DJ Mag. This meant delving deeper into UK rave culture, and through their show on Balamii radio — which they credit with helping them realise they could “do whatever I wanted” musically — they met the Club Glow crew, releasing a superb split mixtape with Kessler on the label in 2021. 

Showcasing her love for sampling, Carr’s side is driven by chunky breaks and thundering kick-drums, and though plenty of it is club-ready, it’s most powerful listened to as a whole, with vocal samples and swirling psychedelic textures coming together to form a heady audio collage. This energetic style, which fuses oddball beat structures with layer upon layer of dancefloor reference points, is present throughout their work, from the lush breakbeat house of ‘Houdini’ and twisted pulse of ‘Tank Girl’ (Gallery, 2020), to the erratic acid rave of ‘MILEYCYRUS’ (Raiders, 2020), and the serrated synth work of ‘Robots Are Forever’ (Shall Not Fade, 2022).

“I am influenced by and reflect a lot of genres, from techno to breaks, deconstructed club, even psy-trance… but I don’t have the patience to stick to just that one style,” explains Carr. “We’re not in the ’90s anymore, where you do a particular genre, and DJs are finding themselves quite frustrated when they’re getting pigeonholed in certain genres. We actually all have broad tastes. So now I’m flipping the switch and kind of shoving everything that I like into one track and trying to make it cohesive, because it satisfies me. And obviously, it resonates with people as well.”

As the pandemic eased off, Carr moved to LA for work, but while they liked the warm climate and proximity to Australia, they lacked the musical connection they’d felt in London. Seeing a gap in the market, Carr teamed up with Bianca Oblivion, whom she’d met through female and gender-nonconforming music collective Nap Girls, and US bass music icon Star Eyes to put on warehouse parties under the WARP MODE banner. The project snowballed and they’ve since brought through the likes of INVT and Anna Morgan, TSVI, Bored Lord, bastiengoat, Nikki Nair and Fixate. Most recently, they hosted a massive Boiler Room party in LA. “It was crazy! We completely underestimated the amount of people that we would have through the doors.”

In August, Carr will launch Club Madhouse, a new label showcasing her heavyweight, rave-licked take on techno, which takes its name from her minority-artist-focused Madhouse music licensing company. There’re lots more shows on the horizon, including Glastonbury, and EDC Las Vegas alongside Kettama, SHERELLE and Ben UFO, a line-up they think reflects the changing tastes of the US scene. And things are looking brighter back in Eora/Sydney too, with a new generation coming up and restrictions lifting. “There’s really exciting parties and events happening, like Lost Sundays at the Ivy is just pumping and the kids are all about it. We’ve had a big resurgence, which has been empowering and immensely important for our music culture.”


Hermeth ‘Do Ma Ting’
DJ Baba ‘On The Master’
?? ‘Techno Carioca’ 
Dagga X Dxm ‘Open Sesame’ 
DJ Plant Texture ‘Highspeedlife’
Amazingblaze ‘ID’
AK Sports - ‘LET ME GO’ [forthcoming]
AK Sports x Absolute ‘ID’
Acor ‘High’
Daye Dince ‘Good 2 Go’
Jan Vercauteren ‘When Angels Cry’
Sikoti ‘Heavy Smoke’
AK Sports x Nora ‘ID’
Nia Archives 'Baianá (Luc's Eu Cheguei Edit)'

Want more? Check out Fresh Kicks mixes from Kyruh and Sam Goku

Ben Hindle is DJ Mag's deputy editor. You can follow him on Instagram @the_z_word