A UK dance heavyweight, junglist king pin, drum n bass pioneer, heads down DJ. There are a few ways to describe a guy whose career spans four decades, and has inspired more parties than any regular hedonist could hope to attend, but they all really mean one thing.
Kenny Ken is nothing short of a legend. From his years playing definitive sessions like A.W.O.L., Labyrinth, World Dance and Crazy Club (as jungle and its derivatives were developing), to his well-earned place on Fantazia’s ‘wall of fame’, the establishment of labels like Mix ‘n’ Blen, and the cementing of his reputation as one of the country’s most loved and respected record players, there’s not much he hasn’t done.
Cutting a long story short though it has always been about preaching the gospel of quality electronic beats; amen breaks indeed. With so much experience behind him, and such a weighty collection of records, it’s safe to say there’s always plenty of expectation ahead of his appearances. Herbal Sessions v Badman Ting in Manchester this Friday is no exception, so with that date in mind, and a few questions, we thought it best to get in touch with Mr Ken himself. Here’s what he had to say.
Hi Kenny, how's it going today? What's been happening recently?
What’s been going on with me lately, hmmm. On the 28th of April I'll be hosting my first gig called Junglizm, at Liberty's Nightclub in Harlow so I'm excited about that. I've also recently finished a remix for a group called The Milk, the track name is Broke Up The Family. And between gigs I’m trying to get as much studio time as possible.
Any standout dates of late?
I'm playing at SXSW Music Festival in Austin Texas this week. I'm the first UK D&B artist to play at SXSW, so I've been told. The show is about the influence of reggae on British music, should be great.
The club scene has changed significantly since you started out. Do you see the whole ‘bass music’ thing as a progression of hardcore and jungle?
Lots of new music styles have emerged since I first began DJing, and yes I think it is still a progression from the early days, but also technology has a lot to do with it as well.
Things are overall more commercial in 2012 than they were in 1992… what's your take on where dance culture is now?
My take on where dance culture is today is that things can't stay the same forever, so it was obvious back in the nineties that D&B and Jungle would go mainstream, like other types of underground music.
In terms of the current jungle scene in the UK, outside of London, do you see things as particularly healthy?
The Jungle scene is healthy everywhere I go all around the world. A lot of DJs are playing the jump up style of things, but I'll always be a Junglist.
Last year you were working with Savage Rehab amongst others, are you still collaborating, and what other projects are going on at the moment?
I'm still collaborating with Savage Rehab but this year I'm trying to do my production myself, because it’s a good feeling when you make a track that people like and it’s all your own work. I'm working on a few tracks right now and Savage Rehab give me a lot of input, which I'm grateful for.
Aside from stuff you're involved in what other producers and DJs should people be checking out right now?
Other producers that I rate right now are Benny Page, Konichi, Serial Killaz, Enei, Crissy Criss, Bladerunner, Serum, Sub Zero, and Jayline… to name just a few.
You're back up in Manchester for a return to BMT after last May, do you have any abiding memories from that one?
All I remember about the last time I played for BMT were the wicked vibes and the crowd showing me love, so this time it’s gonna be even better!
Words: Martin Guttridge-Hewitt
Photo: Baz Vaghela
Catch Kenny Ken at The Zoo, Manchester this Friday for Herbal Sessions vs Bad Man Ting. Tickets are available now through Skiddle.
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