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Kid Kameleon

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

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, its hard to say what this DJ cant 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 98 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 nbass store in the country. I was really into drum n 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 04. 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, Im gonna do this'it wasnt specifically for music, but I was gonna do music wherever I came.

SFS: I heard youre 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 hes 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 n bass scene?

KK: I havent really been part of the drum n bass scene since Ive got here. I sort of moved away from the jungle scene when I moved out here. Im must more interested in a bunch of other scenes. Im very into the breakcore scene.

I wrote a big article on the dubstep scene in 06 for XLR8R magazine. A couple friends and I did a dubstep and grime night in 05 called The Tuneups for awhile. After that a bunch of people eventually went on to create Grime City. I wasnt officially a part of that but I was the first guest DJ. Its been really cool to watch it morph into all sorts of different things. Im super eclectic, Im in the hip hop and glitch scene here, and anything related to Jamaican music I love, dancehall, roots, etc. As far as this genre, Im not a good person to comment on that, but Ive 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. Shes amazing, and shes in Jamaica now but shes 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. Its been a pleasure to watch him evolve in the last 3-4 years. God, theres so many others. I dont think quite specifically San Francisco-based either. I mean I can rattle off a bunch. Theres a producer named J.Todd and I dont know anything about him except hes San Francisco-based but hes doing awesome things and great beats. Im a Flying Lotus fansome 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, Im 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 dont really hear it that way but I really hear it that way. Amazing vocalistsyou 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 else its in dubstep, jungle.

Its 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 its still roots but its just this great thread. I guess when I say roots I think its more my obsession with Jamaican music and how it infiltrates in everything I love. I didnt 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. Im also opening for Bassnectar at 1015 on May 15th with Kush, so thats gonna be a big show for both of us. As far as mixes, Ive been a little slack, but I am working on one for Modyfier Modifying( I should be coming out with that by the beginning of next month, I just need to get mixing!

Catch for his blog, or find him at for some more insight!