When you’re writing an article interviewing a stalwart of any industry, as a writer, one likes to start off with illustrating how long said stalwart has been around and how many awards he’s won and all the good shit that comes from being one of the best in an industry that rejoices with and venerates innovators.
With Kid Kenobi starting there would devalue the personality and achievements of a DJ who’s been around since I became legal to actually (legally) drink in bars. Speaking to the Kid with the Jedi powers earlier in week it was hard to pin point just where in the ten long years he’s been around has the evolution from Breaks extraordinaire to his newest project, Dubstep Invasion came along.
Music Feeds: What did you make of the Dubstep crowd at Chinese Laundry the other week?
Kid Kenobi: The whole Dubstep crowd have a different attitude, it was a bit rowdy with some moshing, somebody got punched, there was even a naked dude standing in the closet at the end of the night (laughs). There seem to be a lot more blokes but there were a few wasted girls in the front row (laughs). It’s a totally different crowd to what I’m used to.
MF: How long have you been DJ-ing and why have you moved on to DJ Dubstep now?
KK: I’ve been DJing for 15 years now, so I’ve been playing lots of different style’s throughout the years that I think are inter-related. For me it’s not that different to playing Breaks or DnB. I play in non Dubstep clubs too but I’d say in the last year I’ve been playing a lot more Dubstep gigs.
Its part of the evolution of the kind of music that I’ve always been in to, Breaks and DnB etc all draw from the same influences such as hip hop and Reggae. All of these genres are deeply ingrained in each other.
Ultimately I still like to mix things up. When I first started DJing I’d play everything from Hip Hop to DnB to House to old skool rave. You’d be playing a certain style and then mix things up and people would really like the change in genre, it wasn’t necessarily about the style of music that you were playing but that they like the change in the set, it keeps things interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever played a strictly Dubstep night, I’ll mix things up, maybe throw in a DnB track or Break track, it’s boring doing a two hour set in one genre.
If I go to play at a Breaks or House gig I can’t really play Dubstep there but maybe I’d mix in about 30% to keep it interesting. I’m writing and producing Dubstep and DnB tracks at the moment but I don’t think I can restrict myself to one style as a DJ unfortunately.
Once you get a taste for mixing up genre’s and stuff you never go back. I like to have a general plan of attack with my set but often you have to change direction because it might not be working, sometimes I’ll drop a particular track and it will go down well and at other gigs that same track could clear the floor. You just have to feel it out and try to read the crowd.
MF: So how did the collaboration come about with Glovecats on the Dubstep Invasion CD?
KK: OneLove approached me and asked if I would be interested in doing the Dubstep Invasion CD and I felt that it would be a lot to take on the whole thing so they got Glovecats into it too. I’ve known the guys at OneLove for a while now, a lot of people put the two of us together automatically now because I’ve done quite a lot of remixes and stuff for them.
MF: How did you start out? What came first producing or mixing?
KK: Djing came first. My dad is a musician, he’s drummer, so I was musically influenced from a young age. I first started getting into music, especially Hip Hop, when I was about 12 or 13 pretty seriously. When I was at Uni I just started doing some DJing and got more and more work without looking for it too much, it just sort of happened. I’m really lucky because it’s not something I look at as a job because I really enjoy it. I am starting to focus more on the production side of thing more now though.
MF: How is the production side of things going?
KK: At the moment we have mainly singles out on the Klub Kids label (Kenobi’s own label). We have some other artists coming out on the label too. I was thinking the other day that I really want to find time for other stuff but producing has become a complete obsession now.
It’s one of those things where you try something new each day and learn over time, it’s been 3 years nonstop now and I’m only just starting to think that my productions are actually not bad. I keep thinking I’ll get to a point where I am completely satisfied but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.
It’s a huge learning process writing music, it’s like when you move to a new suburb and slowly become familiar with each street and then you figure out which street is connected to which and then eventually you become really familiar with one area and then you do the same with the other area’s in the city until eventually you are familiar with the entire city but it takes quite a long time to get to that point where you know a city completely.
For me it’s the same with producing music, you need to not only be aware of the musical side of things but you also need to learn the technical side of things, there’s so much to learn and it’s taken me 3 years to get to this point. You can’t do something artistic or creative part time, you need to be obsessed and passionate about it to become really good at it, that’s what other successful people are like, otherwise you completely fall behind. I don’t like being away from the studio for too long, it’s really important to have something that makes you feel grounded and balanced.
When I was a kid I used to draw a lot, I’d go straight to my room and draw for hours, even now, although I don’t have much time for it anymore, but when I do get the chance to draw I feel totally grounded, it’s a bit like meditating for me.
MF: You’ve toured around the world, which country do you feel the crowd is most responsive?
KK: I’ve not toured heavily oversees for a while now because I’ve been locked in the studio producing, but Australia has always had some of the best vibes, also at Fabric in London has always been amazing, it’s funny because loads of Aussies would turn up to the gigs in London too. I think America would be an amazing place to tour right now. At the moment there is so much good dance music coming out of the US.
MF: Who is your fave DJ/producer?
KK: I have lots, George Fitzgerald, does deep soulful Dubstep, with vocals that pitch up and down. And my favorite producers right now are Nero, Subfocus, and Dirtyphonics. Production wise I am really into what these guys do, there productions are out of control, the DnB mentality is really mixed level which is what I am aspiring to achieve with my own productions. It’s the super compressed coined drums and tight baselines that always sounds amazing in a club.
I love seeing the fusion and cross pollination that’s going on with the different genres of music at the moment. You can manoeuvre between genres, it’s great. I think you have to be open minded about music, I’ve learnt it from observing other successful people, Mile Davies, Madonna, have all been successful because they have changed with the times. It would be very easy for me to get attached to break beat because I did well with that genre but I’m not going to keep flying the flag for 2002 for the rest of my life.
MF: After the tour what will you be up to?
KK: After the tour my girlfriend is having a baby, actually in 5 weeks time! After the tour I’ll take a month off to look after my girlfriend and the baby and then after that I have a new single I am working on. I have some guys on my label, Shortcut Kids, doing a tour which I will be joining them on and I have another single coming out in August with MC Shureshock, so a pretty busy year ahead!