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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Apr 14, 2009
An eclectic DJ with styles that span from hip hop to the breakcore scene, Kid Kameleon has been making his presence known in the San Francisco scene since his transplant from the east coast 5 years ago. As part of the Surya Dub crew and a huge part of the glitch mob scene, along with the upkeep of his personal blog and articles in XLR8R magazine, itís hard to say what this DJ canít do. Speaking with SF Station in a phone interview, Kid Kameleon shares his love of roots and musical of all sorts.
SF Station (SFS): Tell us a little about how you started DJing
Kid Kameleon (KK): Well I started as a radio DJ on WESU in Connecticut. But even as a radio DJ there, I had already been into electronic music for a while. In 1997, I was really keen to be part of that scene. I sort of picked it up, and by the summer of Ď98 I had my first gig in a bar called Ancio in New York, which was owned by DJ Dara. He worked at the first drum níbass store in the country. I was really into drum ní bass then. Then, I really found a supportive scene in the New York jungle scene. That sort of gave me the encouragement to do it. I had lots of friends that were very musical who were always encouraging me to mix and not to focus on one scene. So that was the development of my pretty eclectic style.
SFS: What brought you out to San Francisco?
KK: I moved out here when my girlfriend got into Berkeley in í04. I had always really loved San Francisco, but I originally moved to Oakland. I came to visit lots of times and really liked the music scene. I said 'okay, Iím gonna do this'Öit wasnít specifically for music, but I was gonna do music wherever I came.
SFS: I heard youíre part of the Surya Dub crew.
KK: I was definitely one of the founders and I always have to give Maneesh the Twister credit.
SFS: Oh yeah, he was an awesome interview too.
KK: Yeah heís been doing events for a long time, and he called me and said, "Hey I want to do this new thing and I want you involved." I was definitely there from the beginning and offering creative input, and I offered more and more pretty much in parallel with him for the past two and quarter years now. There was a bunch of us: 11 DJs, the idea was always to collect different ideas.
SFS: Since Surya Dub has been going on for two years, have you seen changes in the in drum Ďn bass scene?
KK: I havenít really been part of the drum ní bass scene since Iíve got here. I sort of moved away from the jungle scene when I moved out here. Iím must more interested in a bunch of other scenes. Iím very into the breakcore scene.
I wrote a big article on the dubstep scene in Ď06 for XLR8R magazine. A couple friends and I did a dubstep and grime night in Ď05 called The Tuneups for awhile. After that a bunch of people eventually went on to create Grime City. I wasnít officially a part of that but I was the first guest DJ. Itís been really cool to watch it morph into all sorts of different things. Iím super eclectic, Iím in the hip hop and glitch scene here, and anything related to Jamaican music I love, dancehall, roots, etc. As far as this genre, Iím not a good person to comment on that, but Iíve watched the music scene in San Francisco in general blossom over the last five years. Not that it was bad before, but it felt really special to be a part of it for the past five years. A lot of different influences are coming in from overseas, and also a lot of promising producers here.
SFS: So who have been some of your favorite producers DJs to work with?
KK: I have to first and foremost always shout out my partner DJ Ripley. Sheís amazing, and sheís in Jamaica now but sheís part of the Surya Dub crew. And love my partners in Surya Dub Maneesh and Kush Aurora. Kush has been doing great things, blending dancehall and glitchier beats. Itís been a pleasure to watch him evolve in the last 3-4 years. God, thereís so many others. I donít think quite specifically San Francisco-based either. I mean I can rattle off a bunch. Thereís a producer named J.Todd and I donít know anything about him except heís San Francisco-based but heís doing awesome things and great beats. Iím a Flying Lotus fanÖsome great dubstep coming out of the UK too. Always have a love of roots and reggae and as well.
SFS: So what appeals to you so much about roots music?
KK: Well, Iím not a roots purist but there are a couple things. One is the production and production techniques from the 70s, both in roots and in dub. They just really sort of resonate with me because they were so experimental for what they were, yet so heavy and groove oriented. Some people donít really hear it that way but I really hear it that way. Amazing vocalistsÖyou hear that stuff and it really grabs me and gets to my emotional side. But then, what is really cool about roots is how it gets incorporated into everything elseí itís in dubstep, jungle.
Itís really been the foundation of British dance music for 25 years now. If you follow that stuff to the hardcore scene or listen to dubstep and jungle, there are always bits of roots elements. It gets mixed up in weird ways too. Some people like Wasteland or Scud will hit that stuff and completely glitch it out so you can hardly even hear that itís still roots but itís just this great thread. I guess when I say roots I think itís more my obsession with Jamaican music and how it infiltrates in everything I love. I didnít come out of the techno or house scene, more of the jungle scene which had that element.
SFS: Do you have anything upcoming gigs or plans to release mix CDs?
KK: Yeah totally. The Surya Dub crew is doing a gig in Sebastopol; Kush, Maneesh, and I are doing a show for Surya Dub. Iím also opening for Bassnectar at 1015 on May 15th with Kush, so thatís gonna be a big show for both of us. As far as mixes, Iíve been a little slack, but I am working on one for Modyfier Modifying(http://modyfier-modifying.blogspot.com/). I should be coming out with that by the beginning of next month, I just need to get mixing!
Catch Kidkameleon.com for his blog, or find him at Myspace.com/kidkameleon for some more insight!
by Christina Li on Apr 14, 2009
Photo credit: Kelly Koehler
Photo credit: Kelly Koehler