By: Lauren DeGaine
This is a story about the kind of passion that brings visionary work to life. In an industry inundated with substanceless personalities, Sheldon Springs aka KNGSPRNGS brings artistic integrity and a multi-faceted presence to the stage of West Coast bass.
A trained dancer and graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Sheldon has been pursuing passions in LA since 2013, when he was hired as a choreographer by Lucent Dossier Experience.
“I didn’t know shit about EDM; I thought it was just another dance audition. They trusted me and I think they saw a lot of potential.”
Two weeks later, Sheldon was asked to choreograph for Lightning in a Bottle, his first electronic music festival. The environment, the music, and the way people interacted in that space had a profound effect.
“As a dancer, my head exploded. It changed the way I wanted to listen to music, it changed the way I wanted to dance.”
When I caught up with Sheldon for this interview, he was finishing up at his second job as a physical trainer in downtown Los Angeles.
“Nothing about this whole ‘pursuing what you believe in’ thing has been simple,” Sheldon says, telling me about the hustle-or-die mentality he’s had to adopt. “I must love what I do, because I’m willing to starve, sleep in my damn car, it doesn’t matter.”
Sheldon isn’t being metaphorical. For the first few months of 2018, he was living the ‘starving artist’ story. In fact, some nights you’d find him in the Midnight Mission.
“This is what you call skid row. This is populated by hobos with tents, needles on the floor, and homeless shelters. It’s definitely some real shit out here. I’ve been here for two and a half months, and it was the last resort. I didn’t have anything; I had to start over.”
After a whirlwind 2016 that saw the release of KNGSPRNGS’s first EP and performances at world-class events such as Shambhala, Bass Coast, Burning Man, Coachella, and Lightning in a Bottle, Sheldon moved back to LA to continue pursuing his goals. The fresh start presented roadblocks, financial hardships, and legal issues.
Instead of getting lost in the adversity, Sheldon is using it to fuel his creativity.
“I know I’m in this shitty place,” Sheldon says, “but I know I’m not going to be here much longer.”
Much of Sheldon’s work revolves around his identity as a late-bloomer– he became a dancer at twenty-two and only began producing music two years ago.
“As artists, we need to know how to capitalize on our work, how to own more of what we make,” he says.
This sentiment is illustrated in his music videos, the most notable of which is for his track, “Plotting.” The video takes place in a graveyard; the dark aesthetic compliments Sheldon’s trademark dance style that combines krumping with fluid, graceful movements. The video features Sheldon’s music, choreography and dancing. This ground-up approach ensures that KNGSPRNGS’s creative content is personally owned and fully monetizable.
“I really want to bring the arts to this DJ thing. My vision for my stage presence is a situation in which the music is controlled by different midi cues, and pre-show, I choreograph certain songs, and come out from behind the CDJs to perform the choreography.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find such dynamic performance styles among the top-paid DJs around the world, yet festivals sometimes state on their applications that they’d like to see this kind of work.
“When are we going to bring that interactive aspect back?” Sheldon asks, “We can’t just be Steve Aoki throwing cakes into the crowd.”
When I caught up with Sheldon a couple weeks after our initial interview, I was stoked to hear that he had found an apartment and was steadily working on the new EP.
“I’m turning thirty, and I want to make changes in my life,” he says, explaining that the recent challenges have made him realize how he’s taken people who cared and supported him for granted. Now, Sheldon wants his community to succeed while contributing to the evolution of the scene and elevating its artistic standards.
“My compassion is rising along this crazy journey. I’ve got family members in the hospital, people dying from gang shit, people that gave me money was I broke, people that I want to take care of. This whole dancer/DJ thing is way bigger than me.”
KNGSPRNGS’s next EP, DOE or Diversity Over Everything, will be released on MalLabel Music.
“It will be seven tracks showcasing all genres of music that inspire me as a dancer, from grime to R+B and trap, and each song will be choreographed. Every song is what I’ve been feeling, living in this homeless shelter, dealing with losing friends and family. As a kid, dance always provided that outlet for me. Now that I have music under my belt, I can give you a full conversation.”
We’re looking forward to watching that conversation play out on his forthcoming EP and on festival stages across North America this summer.