Ezra Rubin, aka Kingdom, has been an exciting face for bass-heavy dance music, drawing from a variety of styles, from jungle to R&B. He performs at Tormenta Tropical on Saturday during a showcase for the up-and-coming label he started with two of his peers, Nguzunguzu and Total Freedom.
What genres or styles have influenced you and how do you reflect them in your music? How would you describe the music you make?
I’ve been influenced by jungle, classic house, old skool rave, R&B, and grime. Some call the music I make bass music; I call it club. R&Bass? Someone said “futuristic southern bass” and “evil R&B” to me recently.
R&B is a big part of your sound. Who are your some of your favorite singers and why?
Aaliyah, Jazmine Sullivan, Yummy Bingham, Teedra Moses, Monica. On my first mixtape that I made in 2006, there was a bunch of R&B blends and from there on out I was consistently integrating that element. I’m kind of surprised how many random people have started playing with R&B vocals on their tracks recently. It should only be done carefully, and with tender loving care.
In your opinion, which producers paved the way for electronic dance music and which producers do you think are raising the bar right now?
Some founding figures are Kevin Saunderson, Marshall Jefferson, Juan Atkins, Karizma, Timbaland, Davinche, just to name a very random assortment. Now I’m mainly influenced by my contemporaries like Nguzunguzu, Total Freedom, Bok Bok, Jam City, Girl Unit, and a long list of other people who are part of the Night Slugs/Fade to Mind collective.
How did you get to know Nguzunguzu and Total Freedom? What common visions do you have for your label Fade to Mind?
I met Total Freedom, aka Ashland, in 2003 through mutual friends, then Ashland and Nguzunguzu moved out here to Los Angeles and were collaborating. It wasn’t until around 2008 when I started visiting LA, working with them, and then I moved here 6 months ago. Our label marks a new era of American club music, with an emphasis on thick bass, unusual sound palettes, and a generally soulful otherworldly gleam.
Are there any future collaborations you’re looking forward to — whether your own or someone else’s — that the label will release?
I am releasing a song called “Take Me” that I recorded with Naomi Allen from Electrik Red on July 12th. Fade to Mind artists include Nguzunguzu, MikeQ, Total Freedom, Gremino, Kingdom, Cedaa, Clicks & Whistles, Rizzla, Fatima Al Qadiri, and more.
Is there anything in particular you think LA offers for your music (aside from Ngzunguzu and Total Freedom being based there) that NY doesn’t?
People have a more collaborative spirit here and are slightly happier, so more gets made.
Are you hoping to make an impact in the LA electronic music scenes with Fade to Mind? What do you hope to contribute?
LA people are open minded if you find the right groups of people your sound will work for. Fade to Mind will create a scene based around emotional open-minded club music. Hopefully we will help draw people away from joining the masses of wobble dubstep ravers that live here.
What makes a good party?
Bass, dim lighting, people who are willing to let the DJ go off.
What do you look forward to at Tormenta Tropical this Saturday?
Tormenta Tropical this Saturday will be the debut Fade to Mind showcase, the core performers on the label will be Djing and perfoming back to back. It’s a special one!
Kingdom plays with Nguzunguzu and Total Freedom at Tormenta Tropical at the Elbo Room this Saturday at 10pm. Tickets are $5 to $10.
For more information, mixtapes and event listings for Kingdom visit www.kkingdomm.com