HE island of Bute, with its Gothic visitor attractions and peaceful seafront, could hardly be more different to the pulsating nightclubs on the party island of Ibiza. But the “Isla Blanca” is where Scottish DJ Kerr Slaven has made his second home over the past few years, headlining some of Europe’s most prestigious clubs and festivals.

Undoubtedly, it is a departure from his days of playing the saxophone while at high school in Rothesay.


“The biggest ‘pinch me’ moment,” explains 30-year-old Kerr, who goes by the stage name KC Lights, “has been playing at events I used to go to as a punter. I went to Ibiza when I was 17. That was when I first developed a love for dance music. So now being on the other side of the decks is amazing.

“The first time I played there I thought it was crazy – looking out at the crowd and thinking that not too long ago it was me out there.”

While growing up on Bute, Slaven was initially drawn towards an eclectic mixture of jazz and indie rock. An interest in composing dance music came later while studying for a music degree at the University of Aberdeen.

“My background of being trained classically, playing in jazz bands, eventually merged with the electronic world. I was always messing about on the piano, but then at university I developed a better understanding of how music was written and was introduced to music software. I started dabbling in the technology and very quickly realised it was for me.”

However, while plenty of students fancy themselves as the next superstar DJ, very few actually make it in the industry. With backing from BBC Radio 1 and several successful singles under his belt, Kerr is one of the lucky ones– but he has faced an uphill battle to get there.

“I knew I wanted to pursue music,” he says. “I had no idea how I would make it happen, or turn it into a career, but I was determined to find a way. It took about five years of working in part-time jobs in bars, jobs that I wasn’t particularly fond of, to pay the bills and eventually get to a point where music was my career and my full-time job.

“I now have people from all over the world reach out to me telling me how much a certain track meant to them. In some cases, people say they were in a bad place in their life but a particular song of mine lifted them up. That’s a really touching experience.”

Kerr is among a number of Scottish artists making a name for themselves on the international dance scene, with streaming services like Spotify and YouTube helping to reach new audiences. This has been a lifeline for many performers who have seen their touring revenues dwindle over the past 12 months.

“Scotland has always had a big presence internationally when it comes to music,” Slaven continues. “There are a lot of Scottish producers making noise at the moment – probably disproportionate to the size of the country. But lockdown has been tough.

“Friends who were resident DJs at clubs across the world have had to go back to a ‘normal job’ which has been really difficult. So, if there is an artist you care about, stream their music, buy their merchandise, share their songs on social media. And, of course, when things open back up, buy tickets to see their show. It really does help.

“For the past year events just kept getting postponed or cancelled, but I try to hold on to the hope sometime soon we will be able to get back up and running. Certainly now there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, I’ve a lot of bookings getting pencilled in from about June onwards. It feels a lot more within reach.”

Despite having concerts lined up at venues across the globe, Slaven says one of his favourite places to DJ remains Sub Club on Jamaica Street in Glasgow, the city he now calls home.

“Playing Sub Club, you feel like you are there as a raver as much as a DJ. That’s the best way to do it for me,” he says.

“I don’t honestly think I will ever leave Glasgow. I’ve toyed with the idea of living in London and I’ve worked in LA – and those places are great – but they are great because I enjoy leaving them and get to come back to Scotland again!”

Stream KC Lights’ single Cold Light now