"Electronic music is not about the internet, it's about going to a party, what you experience, what you feel"
décembre 15th
1:54 PM

We Dig… meets Kai Alcé : Life is good after a session

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Pour sa première Label Night au Batofar, Synchrophone n’a pas fait les choses à moitié, en invitant le grand Kai Alcé pour une soirée d’exception. Le temps d’une soirée le Batofar s’est transformé en plateforme Soulful exigeante, sans compromis. Nous avons profité de la venue de ce grand monsieur à Paris pour le rencontrer et échanger autour de la House, du clubbing, de son label NDATL et des projets à venir. Nous avons également l’honneur de présenter le 7ème podcast de notre série, à l’image de l’univers du KZR : Deep et Soulful.

Par respect pour l’intégrité des propos de Kai Alce nous publions l’interview dans sa version originale.

You’ve been touring in Europe this year…

This is my longest European tour and it’s great. I got to play in couple places for the first time: Geneva, Belgium and Paris.

What are your favorite venues in Europe?

France has been great, Lyon at L’Ambassade as well. Last night was great, also at Batofar, Paris I love that there’s a new energy, young kids, that’s essential to keep that movement alive. It’s nice to meet them on their platform…

We’ve noticed yesterday that you really like to feel the contact with the crowd…

Oh yeah! You gotta pay attention, ‘cause people always ask me if I know what I’m gonna play before I get there. I always try to feel what the people are feeling…

How do you prepare yourself before playing then?

I bring out a lot of vinyl as heavy as they are; burn out last minute CDs…

This relationship with the crowd comes from your long history involved with clubbing I guess

Exactly, I always tell people you can learn how to DJ quickly, that’s only half of it, I mean the other half is the experience: playing in front of different people, playing for different parties then you get better at reading a crowd and doing so, you get better at letting them feel you and you feeling them, and that takes a while. When you’re early on, you’re more concerned about presenting yourself correctly to the crowd and a lot of the time people are too inside their head where you have to be connected to the crowd.

And you’d say that the Music Institute has a lot to do with that?

Yes, definitely. I was working there with Chez Damier, he’s the one who brought me in. I learned a lot from those guys. Derrick has his own way of capturing the crowd, whereas Chez Damier and Alton had their own way of doing it with the music that they played. Those were my early lessons. A couple years after, I thought about doing it professionally, I was still a teenager then I went to a college for a little while, then I started to play in Atlanta, and found my way back to it.

What I learned from being born New York and raised in Detroit, I was able to use in Atlanta to start something new. There weren’t that many people that were playing house music in Atlanta, since Ted Patterson, one of the only guys playing House Music there went to New York, there was an empty space, I started to play and here I am!

Still regarding the Music Institute, you released three EPs on your own imprint to pay homage to the club…

Yes, It was a tribute to the Club. I got tracks from Derrick May, Chez Damier, Mike Huckaby, Theo Parrish, Alton Miller, a remix from KDJ. I was lucky to get the collaboration from all these guys, and hopefully next year for the DEMF we’ll be releasing the whole tribute CD compilation. It will have unseen pictures from the club.

That’s great! How did you manage to get unseen footage from back in the days?

It was hard, there is a particular mural in the building, and supposedly it’s still there. I contacted a girl named Sarah Gregory who did the mural, you can actually see some of her artwork on some of Derrick May’s import records. The mural has so much to do with atmosphere in the club. It’s nice to have people finally see what it looks like, and I got quotes from people who came to party there, from Djs, from Derrick to Juan (Atkins) to Mike Huckaby.

I guess the CD is going to be limited…

This time we will try to reach out more, and be more accessible. The EPs are quite hard to find, but this time we’ll try to be better (laughs). Most of the time, the 12’ are hard to find because it’s what the distributors order, I tend not to repress, and just tell distributors to order what they want upfront and that’s it.

The first Music Institute EP is quite intriguing because there is no information about who are the producers behind all the pieces…

My reasoning behind that was that people basically gave me those tracks, I didn’t want to take advantage of their names on the record label. I wanted people to just enjoy the music, because today a lot of people are into names. But when the compilation comes out, I will put all the correct information! (Laughs)

There’s a duality between the 4 tracks on the EP: you have 2 hard-edged tracks and 2 vocal tracks and we can almost feel the atmosphere of the club around those pieces…

Thank you! The club was like that, Friday night was more geared towards Techno and the electronic/instrumental stuff and then Saturday night was more around house and vocal stuff. And I wanted to represent that on each of the 12’, I wanted as much diversity as I could get.

Production wise, you started after Djing. You released your first tracks on Trackmode…

Yes Trackmode was my first release label. I’ll always be in debt to him (Brett Dancer…). I think at that time I was working on some things and he said he liked that. I gave him two more songs and he put the 12’ out. Moodymann was kind enough to put out a 12’ as well soon after. Then I started on my record label…Now I’m getting the label going and waiting for the next releases myself with vocalist Donnie & another from my friend Damon Lamar from Tetrode, I’m really looking forward to them.

I guess it’s really important for you to work with people you feel close to…

Yes, I try to work with people I’ve either known for years, work with in the past whether they came to Dj for me or something like that. I’m trying to work with them in a label way. Before I was only Djing. Like Damon was somebody I wanted to have on my label even before starting the label so to have him do it is great. Other guys like Osunlade, Abacus, a guy named Jovonntte…

On you own label releases we can feel your stamp on each of the releases, how did you decide to do your own thing?

As I started to make tracks, I didn’t want to always have to submit tracks to other labels for acceptance. When I have something I like, I want to release it.

In your production, there’s a diversity to it: There are mellow and vocal tracks or hard-edged tracks, Lost for example, but it’s always deep and sometimes it’s melancholic that’s what we feel your production style is…

(Laughs) Thank you. It’s something that’s always evolving. I have a couple more of nice vocal tracks that I worked on that will come out later. For me it’s always back and forth. I like doing it. When I sit down, I always want it to be deep so it could be deep with an edge or it could be deep and smooth. That was the way I was taught and raised. You know deep doesn’t always mean mellow or hard it’s definitely a vibe. Even when I Dj and I have to take people up and down, you can’t just stay in one place.

And for you vocals you’ve been working with Azulu Phantom a lot…

Yeah like myself, both of us work kind of slow. So it takes me a while to finally get a track that I feel works for him and once it gets to him it takes him a while to write it. Actually, he has a track we’re working on now. I also worked with a talented vocalist Kayenne which I have collaborated with before with Phil Asher. There are 2 or 3 tracks me and Chez Damier started to work on, there’s also one great song he did with a blind keyboardist Ricky Corey, who is a very cool guy, and amazing on the keyboard.

We wanted to know if you have memories of great parties around the globe…

In the early 90’s, Franckie Knuckles did a remix of a song called “The Pressure” from Sounds Of Blackness. I can remember that the whole week people were talking about how great the remix was but a few people had heard it in the studio. So he was playing that weekend at the Sound Factory during New Music Seminar, I can remember at 3 or 4 in the morning, he was blowing whistles and horns (laughs) and he played the song with a great intro and I can just remember being lost on the dance floor like “Yo this is amazing” I clearly remember that moment on the dance floor, hands up, thinking ” I’ve got to get that! I’ve got to get that!”

Today are there any people you haven’t worked with yet and want to release on their label or collaborate with?

I worked with Omar S, Theo, but that was a long time ago… So there’s people i want to get back in the studio with, but I’m always open to new experiences so I can’t say there’s someone in particular that I want to work with. It’s been really cool, just being able to connect with people I respected over the years and being able to do something that not only concerns them but my music as well. It’s been a blessing.

We Dig Series #7 Kai Alce : Life is good after a session

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