Thursday, March 31, 2011

7 Questions with Strictly Kev

To say that Kevin Foakes (aka Strictly Kev, DJ Food, Openmind and many more aliases not mentioned here) is a creative force to be reckoned with is an understatement. Under his Openmind moniker, Kevin's design work has been the cornerstone of Ninja Tune's visual identity, creating record covers most of the label's roster. That would be enough for one artist, but Mr. Foakes not only designs for the label, but he's the driving force behind DJ Food, and releases material under his other monikers on a regular basis.

We had the opportunity to interview Strictly Kev, and here's the result.

1. Strictly Kev, Openmind, DJ Food, Flexus. How do your aliases and your art intersect?

Strictly was a given name (by Matt from Coldcut) many years ago that I liked and kept, DJ Food I've assumed too and taken control of over the years. The thing about Food is that it was never meant to mean one person, hence the Strictly Kev name as a personal identity, but now Food is just me so go figure. Openmind has always been my design alter ego, even before I was involved with Ninja Tune, it originally started as four people putting on parties and then I kept it when we went our separate ways. Flexus (not Flexus intro as many people confuse it) was something I was going to do as a mixture of cut up and collage, I may still do something with it one day but it exists outside of just music and would involve a series of objects. I had it all mapped out over a decade ago but never got around to it.

2. Your work as Openmind is the cornerstone of the Ninja Tune visual identity. Does your work as a visual artist influence your work as a DJ and music producer?

Not really because most of the time I'm designing for other people and I'm trying to create a visual to fit their music. The few times I have designed for myself it's been quite difficult actually, how do you visualise yourself? A completely blank canvas and no brief is a dream for most designers but I find it almost too huge to condense down to something I'm happy with.

3. What is the core idea behind DJ Food? Was it something that was planned, or did it happen organically?

It's probably the most unplanned, organically grown thing that's ever been given the name of 'a group'. It started out of necessity, got added to by circumstance and then evolved due to public demand. There was never any plan, there still isn't to some extent.

4. What's the future for DJ Food?

An album this year, collecting 2 EPs I made in 2009 plus a third I'm working on now and a few other bits. I'm not decided on the title but I've got 2 months to finish it. Then I'll probably tour that.

5. What about live performances? Do you have anything planned for the near future?

That's another thing I'm trying to figure out, my normal club DJ sets are quite different to the music I make at home. I want to do a set of DJ Food music, both past and present, but make it club friendly. And I want it to have visuals.

6. What would you like your musical legacy to be?

No idea, just being remembered for doing something good is hard enough, you hope to inspire people in the same way others inspired you. You want something you've done, whether musically or visually to mean something to people, for them to look or listen to it and be overwhelmed by its beauty enough to take it with them.

7. What's your top 10 right now?

Jon Brooks-Music For Thomas Carnacki (Cafe Kaput)
Wagon Christ - Chunkothy video by Celyn Brazier (Ninja Tune)
SoundSci - The Illness (Crate Escape)
DJ Food vs 2econd Class Citizen - unfinished untitled collaboration
Edan - Echo Party DVD
Shades of Rhythm - Sweet Sensation (Lone remix) (Cheap Thrills)
Simon Garfield - Just My Type (Phaidon)
Lone - Echolocations EP (R&S)
DJ Format - Mr DJ / Dope Pusher
Shakara - Robbie Morrison/Henry Flint (2000ad)

More information:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Throwback Mondays 03/28/11 - Kraftwerk: Radioactivity

Kraftwerk (German pronunciation: [ˈkʀaftvɛʁk]), German for power plant or power station, is an electronic music band from Düsseldorf, Germany. The group was formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970, and was fronted by them until Schneider's departure in 2008. The signature Kraftwerk sound combines driving, repetitive rhythms with catchy melodies, mainly following a Western Classical style of harmony, with a minimalistic and strictly electronic instrumentation. The group's simplified lyrics are at times sung through a vocoder or generated by computer-speech software. Kraftwerk were one of the first groups to popularize electronic music and are considered pioneers in the field. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Kraftwerk's distinctive sound was revolutionary, and has had a lasting effect across many genres of modern music.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Architects and Heroes Podcast #5

Arcitects & Heroes - Podcast #5 by dj stephen r.

This is the 5th Podcast for Architects and Heroes, and one that marks a milestone for us. We, as a label, curated a stage at the AMODA Digital Showcase. We booked a few of our favorite acts from Texas to play, not only at the AMODA show, but at our very own label showcase. We're featuring some of the acts that performed with us at the AMODA party, as well as the Architects and Heroes event.


1. Blixaboy - Lexicon Man
2. Convextion - Live @ Freshweekend 04-07-2010
3. Bodytronix - Live at the sixth annual austin analog synth party
4. Cygnus - stingray rmx 1 (Photon Xfvn3904290995)
5. Burbank International - The Other Side
6. DJ Stephen R. - Bumped
7. Chili - P B to my J
8. Making the Noise - Led by a Shade

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March Madness

The Architects and Heroes Sound System for 3/15 SXSW Party

It's been a while since the chaos and inertia has settled on our camp and we've had time to sit down and sift through our memories and experiences. So, here's what we know. Since we launched our label in January, our hive has been buzzing with activity. We managed to release our first 3 records, we had a great 3 hour sit down interview, and live performance, with Ms. Tiza at KFJC in San Jose. We then went to Austin to play the AMODA showcase at SXSW in Austin, and we even hosted our very own label event. To say that the year is flying by would be an under statement...

DJ Stephen R. @ the A+H Showcase

The early spring kicked off with our camp, specifically H.A. Eugene (Burbank International/Business 80) and Stephen R. (Zygote/The Summer of Flux) sitting down with the amazing and talented DJ Ms.Tiza at KFJC for over 3 hours of interviews, live performances and dj sets. Our gracious hostess played most of our entire catalog to date (3 releases so far), and even dialed-in to our absent label compatriot, Will Rosario (aka Asymmetrical Head/Quiliuq)to include him in the interview. Evidence of our encounter with Ms.Tiza can be found here.

H.A. Eugene of Burbank International/Business 80 in conversation with Ms.Tiza.

Mere day's after our trip from Los Angeles to the Bay Area for our KFJC interview and in-studio performance, we hit the road for Austin, Texas for SXSW. We were honored to have been asked by AMODA (the Austin Museum of Digital Art) to curate a stage at their 10 annual Digital Showcase at the Mohawk. Our stage included Burbank International, Blixaboy, Martix Records recording artist Convextion, a very rare performance by Zygote (which went from chin-scratching to booty-shaking on a dime), a surprise set by Cygnus and the sounds of the Flying Turns DJs. Our VJ was late to the event, so we managed to get local VJ legends The Vidkids to help mind the gap for our absent VJ.

Blixaboy playing live at the AMODA showcase, A+H stage

Our adventures in Texas didn't stop there. After hundreds of beers, a ton of shows and a shotgun trip to and from Dallas to DJ a wedding (it's a long story, but it has something to do with The Summer of Flux) we at Architects and Heroes Records had our own party.

Flyer for the A+H 3/15 show

Our party saw us feature friends of Architects and Heroes, both new and old, who we put on blast on an amazing sound-system provided by Sound Riggs. We had an amazing line-up of talent blasting through the speakers. The LA homies were up in that piece. Purple Crush brought there hyper-kenetic electro-pop to our dance floor, along with 213 local, and New Noir founder, New Berlin... and to round-out the LA Style, yours truly, DJ Stephen R., dropped a set of dub and bass sounds.

The Flying Turns DJs @the A+H 3/15 show

We welcomed our new Texas friends who represented at SXSW for A+H. Cygnus (who's A+H interview can be found here) dropped a mad set of electro and vocoder madness, while the Flying Turns DJs dropped some sweet space-disco and Bodytronix brought their full rig of customized analog gear and threw down a spot-on set of electronic analog magic.

The A+H night at Deseos was rounded out buy a performance of Architects and Heroes Co-founder, H.A. Eugene in his Burbank International guise playing his own music, deconstructed and electrified. His set is a unique mix of pulsing electronic music made from his own deconstructed record (Warthog AH004 due out on Architects and Heroes in May). As if this weren't enough, we had Dueling Monomes! AMODA laptop battle champion, and Austin native, Chili battled Making The Noise from Boston. All in all, an amazing event.

Although it was a blurry month, with it's fair share of bumps, but it's been an amazing start to our label venture. As a recap to our week of madness at SXSW, I will be producing a podcast that highlights some of the amazing talent we unearthed while in Texas. Stay tuned...