Kenny Dope chats to Dubzy about Space Ibiza, Pacha and Blue Marlin. He also talks about how his style has progressed over the years and tips for DJ’s and producers getting into the music industry.
Give us a brief background check, for everyone who knows your name but not how you got into the scene.
I’ve been in the scene since 1985; I started DJing in 1985 in Brooklyn, New York. I started doing neighborhood parties at that time from, ’85 to like ’91. I also worked at a record store at the same time, till about ’91. During that moment, at them parties, I met Todd Terry, who actually was a big mentor to me and brought me in the business and actually introduced me to Louie Vega, the other side of Masters at Work. During those parties my actual crew, was Master at Work, in Brooklyn and that’s pretty much where it all started. From doing those gigs, I wanted to take things to the next level and get into music production, because I wanted to create beats for my Segway’s at my parties and that’s basically how I got into it.
Do you ever miss those days?
Erm, yeah. There was a lot of trial an error, it was fun, I was young, I was 17/18 years old, ‘87/’88, so you know, it was a whole different experience, you know what I’m saying. But, I can’t take away the fact of what I’m doing now and travelling the world and playing to a new generation now, which I’ve been through three of them almost. I’ve been in the business 25 years now, so it’s been great.
Do you ever find parties where the vibe is similar to what it was back in the day?
The difference is, it was a lot smaller back then. You got to realize, I was renting a small little hall and it was only 150 people. Those were the craziest, plus it was the neighborhood, it was a lot of friends there that would come to those parties and stuff. Those times are recreated in some places, when I do those smaller venues and it’s hot and sweaty, everybody’s just into it. So I guess I could say yeah, we definitely get that feeling.
You’ve been through three generations of house music, how would you describe your style now and how it’s progressed over the years?
I don’t think it’s the same, because you got to realize that back then, we were playing all sorts of music. We were playing Hip-Hop, Reggae, Disco, at the time; House music was just coming into New York, so that was like fresh and brand new. As you get into it more and start to realize where those house grooves came from, was disco records and stuff like that. It just expands your whole horizon of music, whereas today it’s very similar. I play different styles as well too, I play house, I can play soulful house, and I can play Techno, which I’m playing a lot now. It’s still funky to its still house and me and I‘m not talking about any Billy Noisy techno, I’m talking about funky stuff. There’s all these little categories that people have put these labels on, but to me, it’s all music at the end of the day and to me there’s only two, gad and bad. I just play music, that basically just what I say.
For any younger listeners, who are thinking that they’d want to be part of the music industry, with you having so much experience, what would you say some key things to bear in mind are to be successful?
The first thing is, you got to develop a style, of whom you are. Your style comes from who you are as a person. Secondly, it’s to not be scared to take chances and develop that style and for people not to steer you in the wrong direction. It’s what you feel in your heart; first and foremost, that’s really the main thing. Third is just really study the industry and study the business side of things, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. You got to realize, that when I first started in this, I didn’t have anybody schooling me and telling me the rights and wrongs of what to do or how to do business in this industry. So you know, my first couple of records was pretty much given away, not knowingly. So that the other thing, you got to know what your rights are, there are so many different things, with the streaming and all that wiz, it’s totally different than when I got in the game. But, the good thing is, there is a lot of people just pressing Vinyl and releases are just coming out on Vinyl and not digital and that’s the real place where you can definitely make some money, is on the Vinyl side of things. You know what I’m saying.
Do you still use Vinyl anytime when you play?
When I do 45 sets, I do Vinyl sets. The House stuff, I’m starting to collect new House and Techno Records slowly. So I don’t have the batch of the nice set of records that I would bring out yet, but that’s really the biggest problem of why I stopped carrying Vinyl because they would steal them. They would steal them in the airports and they kind of knew who was coming into the country and so on and so forth. You would turn up to a gig and things would be missing out of the boxes so it was just really bad. So when the whole digital Serato thing came into play, I jumped into that. But erm, I would love to. It’s a different sound too; it sounds totally different in a club too.
Say you went six months without using Vinyl and you were just on the CDJ’s, and when you go back to the Vinyl, does it feel like it was a bit tougher than you remember?
You’re always at comfort. You’ve must realize that I’ve been away since June and I missed my records! Ha-ha. Obviously the CDJ’s have a different feel, because nothings motorized in it, but there’s nothing like putting a record on and catching those breaks and that feeling that you get of riding and playing the records and the way it feels is something that will never go away.
Lets talk about your summer now; you’ve been absolutely smashing it out in Ibiza. You’ve played Amnesia, Pacha, Blue Marlin, Space; you’ve been at every club people need to be at. What been some of the highlights of the season for you so far?
Last night, Loco Dice and me just did Amnesia and it was just absolute madness. We played back to back the whole night from 12 till 7 am this morning, record to record. It was crazy. We were supposed to only play till 6, but at 6 o’clock the place was still rammed, all the way to the back and they asked if we could play till 7. We did and it was simply incredible.
How would you describe Amnesia for someone who’s never been before?
It’s crazy, cause we walked in their yesterday with no people and it looks totally different. It’s amazing how a club can transform with lights and people and sounds and the vibe of the music. Amnesia’s just one room and it’s got a really tall ceiling that’s oval shape on top. The whole V.I.P. wraps around the whole club, on top. It’s really dope, the sound; you just can’t get enough of it. It’s a good vibe and yesterday Dice actually pushed the booth on the dance floor, which was great, because you could actually feel the people right there. Cause the booth is kind of elevated, so you kind of feel away from the people. He does his party on the floor, which is really great; and then there’s another room where Chris was playing all night as well so… we did the Terrence (it’s called the Terrence).
One place I wanted to speak about was Blue Marlin. I’ve never been there myself, could you tell us a little bit about that? How did you find it there?
Blue Marlin’s cool; Blue Marlin I did a few years now. I started doing a little more of a chill-out kind of thing where it was just people of the beach or people off their boats coming in to have a drink and dance and stuff. At the beginning it was hard because it you had the spot and as a DJ you want people to dance so, it was getting them into it. But then they moved me to the Sunday Party and that Sunday Party is just… it’s the one! That totally a different experience this year. It’s great: it’s an outdoor event, bars outside; they have a restaurant to the right… people come off their yachts and their boats and they just come in for a drink and they end up staying, you know what I mean?
We’ve got to speak about Space. You’ve played there multiple of times this season, how have you found it?
Space was dope! Space was dope.
Any nights in particular that stood out to you?
The Carl Cox thing was definitely another one that was crazy.
How to do you feel about the venue closing?
It’s crazy! It’s one of those things where they want to transform it, I guess the owner has been there for over 25-30 years and Ushuaia is sponsored to take it over, they pretty much have that whole block. But yeah, it’s one of those things where… if they keep it the same and make a different name, it’s never going to be… Space! But I think they’re going to transform it into something else so it won’t be what it is. It’s just like everything else like we was saying you know; there’s experiences that you been through and one thing is: whoever went there can say “you know what? We went through a lot of great times here and that what it is. Things don’t last forever” you know what I mean? It’s one thing that you were there and… find a next spot.
What do you have planned now after this season is coming to an end? What’s next from Kenny Dope?
Well… I’m home from Saturday. Next week I actually do Blue Ball in Dubai; and then I’m going to Switzerland, I’ve got two dates back-to-back on that Saturday; and then I’m back home for a few days; then I go to Italy and then Studio 80 in Amsterdam, I’ll be there that week. That’s pretty much what’s coming up right about now. And lots of the label too, I got a big compilation that’s coming out for the 80, type 25 songs.
Yeah, Dope axes up in doing its thing. I’ve got a hot stuff coming, new producers as well; different Afro to Techno back to Soulful to songs to tracky stuff… it’s basically putting out music like I said. Dance with quality, dance music… yeah, just be sure to look out for that.
Let all the people know where to keep up to date with everything you’ve gone.
Yeah, it’s: http://kaydeerecords.com, @Kdope50 on Twitter and on Instagram. It’s ‘KennyDopeMusic’ on Facebook.com