In a pop landscape brimming with producers and writers who develop, perfect and disperse a signature sound among all artists they collaborating with, Konstantin Kersting prefers his work to be invisible, and his involvement to serve more as a compass directing a song where it wants to go, than the eventual destination.
“It’s about trying to understand what the artist wants, where they want to go, and then helping them get there – almost in a way where they feel like they did it all themselves.”
In recent years, he’s made a mark on the Australian music scene as the go-to producer and engineer, collecting acclaim and awards on the strength of his work for a diverse set of artists including Tones and I, The Jungle Giants and The Rubens. His contribution to Tia Gostelow’s debut ‘Thick Skin’ earned it Album Of The Year at the 2019 Queensland Music Awards.
When he met Brisbane pop artist Mallrat, they emerged from a day in the studio with her single Better, which went on to pick up Best Unpublished Work in the Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition. Later, they’d again find the sweet spot with the wistful single Groceries. His studio was the perfect place to meet an artist with such specific sensibilities as Mallrat.
“Generally, my thing is just about making sure it’s a safe space where everyone feels like their ideas are being heard. I say that to most people before we start: this is your song. It’s not my song. I’m just the facilitator. I’m just helping you make this.”
After hearing those singles, Tones and I tracked down Kersting to help her translate the songs she’d been playing as a busker into something more concrete.
“[Producing Dance Monkey] was about taking the song from something that she’d been playing live with her busking set-up into a pop song that could be played on the radio.” Kersting took the track apart and began building it back from the ground up, making the beat and recording her vocals. “It was super quick; just a regular session.” But when the song was released in May 2019, the response was another thing altogether. “Everyone started listening to it … Like, everyone.”
By January the following year, Dance Monkey had reached a billion streams on Spotify and was certified Platinum eight times over in Australia. It set a new record for the most weeks spent at number one in Australia; and after its eleventh week, broke the same record on the UK Singles Chart for a female artist. After earning Tones and I an ARIA for Best Pop Release, Dance Monkey landed at number 4 in the annual Triple J Hottest 100 – the largest music poll in the world – with two other tracks he produced from her EP, Johnny Run Away and Never Seen the Rain, coming in at 15 and 26 respectively. Kersting saw his own name on the charts too, among the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 Producers.
Whether he’s working on a final mix with the goal of extracting the artist’s intended emotion from a song, guiding a young artist through their first experience with a producer or meeting a seasoned pro for a writing session, Kersting approaches it with the same passion and enthusiasm.”It doesn’t really matter what part of the process I do because it all helps bring an artistic vision to life. Regardless of whether it’s at the end of the mix or the end of a co-writing session, I’m always like, ‘I can’t believe we just did this! This song didn’t exist 10 hours ago!’ That process is still like magic.”