Then and Now with Kenny Ken

Foz Foster caught up with drum n bass icon Kenny Ken ahead of his set for Relapse at Manchester's Sound Control on October 11th.

Mike Warburton

Date published: 3rd Oct 2014

Photo: Kenny Ken

Arguably the most revered drum n bass, jungle and breakcore night in the North West, Relapse has grown from an intimate 50 capacity mini rave in a small Manchester pub to taking over all three rooms of one of the city's most iconic venues - Sound Control, in a mere three years.

Along the way, the night has nurtured an ever growing core of ardent fans, who make their monthly pilgrimage to Sound Control looking for a potent injection of ruthless, bass heavy beats, curated with passion and dedication by the Relapse bosses.

Their next instalment on October 11th sees perhaps the biggest line up in its career, with the likes of Bong-RaSkeptical and MC Fox, Equinox and B-Key all hooked in, alongside veteran drum n bass tastemaker Kenny Ken, who since the late eighties has been carving a stellar career through his purveying of forward thinking, underground club sounds (witness that in his mix below). 

Foz Foster pinned down the legendary junglist to find out more about his views on the ever changing drum n bass scene, why DJing is the best job to have, and what new works he has up his sleeve.

You've seen the scene begin and grow exponentially, how would you rate the current scene and do you notice any regional differences between the North and South?

The current scene is thriving right now, lots of good music and new producers coming through, some who are very good! There’s no regional differences in the UK. Raving is the same everywhere, you get packed dances up and down the country.

What's good now that wasn't then and vice versa? 

What's good now is I don’t have to carry loads of dubs around which weigh a ton! What was good back then was the big warehouse parties!

Lugging those vinyl crates around is definitely not the most fun a DJ can have. You must get asked this question a lot, but which DJ's do you rate highest both back in the day and currently? 

Back in the day I rated a lot of DJs like DJ Ron, Randall, Grooverider and more. Nowadays there's a lot of good DJ's.

Randall gets a lot of shouts as the DJ's DJ of choice. Same question has to be asked for emcees? 

MC’s back in the day were Moose, GQ, Stevie Hyper and now for me it's the same but adding Harry Shotta, Trigga, Eksman, Fearless and Skibadee.

Who do you most enjoy working with in the studio and do you have currently have anything in the pipeline?

I’m working in the studio a lot. I've done a remix for Dirty Dubsters called 'Old Bongo Cart'. I've also got a tune on DJ SS’ album 'Back to the Jungle' called '911' (above) and I'm working on projects with Saxxon.

Do you have any hot tips on who is going to be making a big name for themselves - someone we might not yet have heard of? 

That I can’t answer because new talent just hits you in the face and it's usually a name you've never heard.

So many hidden gems to discover out there aren't there? If you weren't playing out music around the world, what do you think you would be doing? 

I don’t know, but it wouldn’t be as good as what I'm doing now.

Haha! Bit of a generic question, but always interesting to know - which country goes craziest for the music?

UK is obviously the best country for our music but abroad for me it's out of Canada and Germany.

We've heard Toronto has an awesome scene over in Canada. So which cities do you enjoy playing in the UK?

I enjoy playing anywhere in the UK but Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and of course London would be my favourites.

Good to see Manchester get the nod, they definitely know how to party there don't they? Finally, are you looking forward to playing for Relapse at Sound Control?

I look forward to every gig, I like making people dance so when I come to Sound Control I hope they are ready!

Thanks very much for chatting to us. Catch Kenny Ken doing his thing at Sound Control for Relapse on October 11th. Get your tickets here.

Tickets are no longer available for this event