SHA Podcast 174 & Interview // David Keno
Another massive set of exclusives today as we proudly present another podcast and interview combo. Tonight our man Craig gets the lowdown on everything Keno with the man behind the Keno Records imprint and Kindisch & Trapez regular, David Keno.
Hi David and welcome to SHA, how are you today?
A little bit exhausted. It was a long weekend and this week is full of work. But I am not complaining, it’s a good thing to have much to do if you like what you’re doing.
You have recently released the EP Heroes / Villains on Noir’s NM2. Tell us a little about the release and the contrasting titles?
These two tracks have very different moods. Heroes is very positive and uplifting, Villains is more serious and a bit darker. I wanted to express this contradiction in the title and I think it fits very well. Its always good if the titles really have a meaning, which isn’t always the case in this genre.
In the traditional superhero sense and with previous releases titled Gotham and Peter Pan Syndrome, do you think you would make a better hero or villain?
I guess I couldn’t pick a side for me ultimately. There is fun in both of them. Always being nice can be boring soon and I like to entertain myself. So I would say I’ma bit of everything here.
You were born in Bern, Switzerland and played the drums and guitar from a young age. How did your musical style develop through your younger years and into the electronic scene?
As a Kid I could dig into the record collection of my father who has a pretty strange taste of music. There was a lot of 80ies stuff like A-Ha, Bonnie Tyler, Genesis but also a lot of Blues and Country music. Later on I got into Rock music because my brother was into that stuff, I learned to play the guitar and played in a couple of pretty bad bands. That’s when I was about 16. At that time I was already writing songs and also “produced” my own tracks on a very early version of cakewalk. In that time a friend took me to a techno club in Frankfurt when I was already 18 and I was instantly in love with the energy that happened there. So the next step for me was to buy a synthesizer because with my midi only setup I couldn’t sound very good as you can imagine. After that it took me a very long time until my stuff was good enough for being released. At first it was only for my own entertainment but when I realized that there are people who really like my stuff that kept me going.
Now based in Berlin, how has this move shaped you as an artist and producer?
Of course did being in this whole Berlin scene for a couple of years now uncounciously might have changed me a little as a producer. I think the main part was that I tried to get my stuff more into the club context. I wanted to hear my tracks in the clubs I went to. So I reduced the melodies a little and tried to get it more functional. Today I think I found a nice spot somewhere in between. Only functional stuff bores me but I still want to make the people dance. I have never really fit into a certain scene anyway but I think I found my own spot and this pays off in the long term.
You struck gold when the guys at Pocketgame signed you up for your first EP – the Bubble Bath EP. This was backed up with a remix from the then upcoming, Trentemoeller. How did the EP come about and the label hookup?
That was a great moment for me. I never sent anything to other labels before and they instantly called me back and wanted to release it. When I was producing these tracks I knew that they were special. Getting a Trentemoeller remix for them and it being a small hit was the greatest experience for me and that gave me the confidence that I must be on the right way.
You have since released music on a wide array of great labels. Get Physical, Made To Play, Trapez and Snatch to name a few. With such success what was the catalyst in starting your own imprint Keno Records in 2007?
I have produced some tracks that just wouldn’t fit on any of those labels but I was sure that they would find many friends. So the obvious thing for me was to start my own label. At first it was a tough lesson to learn how much work this really was. But seeing this thing grow and getting feedback from all around the world is a great reward and this keeps me going on.
With your own label you can find your own sound without worrying if it will please some A&R’s or not. It might be a pretty egoistic thing but it was the best choice for me.
Keno Records recently released Keno014 – Beatamines & David Jach // Something Soul / How Never on digital and vinyl. I love the fact that despite rising costs, labels such as Keno still press tracks to vinyl. Is this something you will look to continue in the future?
Yes it is not the best business plan to sell vinyl these days. The costs didn’t rise but the sales simply went down. That’s why a lot of the new labels just sell their tracks on beatport and don’t bother to go through the longer process of pressing vinyl. To be honest I would really miss something if my tracks just were released as mp3s.
After a couple of pretty bad vinyl years I can say that more and more people are buying it again and the sales are going up. The last Keno Records release even made it up to Nr 22 in the All time sales charts from Decks records. So it really can’t be that bad.
You are well known for your own brand of melodic and emotional house music. What inspires you when you start working on a new production or remix?
In my tracks it’s always about the music itself and not the beats. Most of the time I write music I play around on the keyboard to find a melody or a hookline. After that I start with the rhythmic elements and then after I added the bassdrum I see if it will be a proper club track or not. The track heroes for example was written around 100 bpm, didn’t have a punchy bassdrum and I didn’t even think about releasing it. I uploaded it on soundcloud and the feedback was extraordinary. After a while René Kristensen from Noir Music contacted me and had the idea of pumping it up a little and releasing a house version of it. It worked really well and I love the result. The feedback I get, everytime I play it is amazing.
Working with your regular production partner Jaxson, you released your first LP Candyshop at the end of 2011. How has the reaction to the LP been and what new challenges does making an album as a duo bring forward?
We have produced a lot of singles and we were a little bit bored of the same old structures that a regular house and techno release has to fit in. We stopped worrying about if a track will fit somewhere, we just started making music again. The goal was to make music for the living room and if it works in the clubs too, that’s even better. So the process of producing an album was for our own therapy mostly, otherwise we would have been bored and would have needed a break soon. We were really glad how Yellow Tail records supported us with that. It was a real risk to release an album like this on CD and vinyl but In the end it turned out to be pretty successful. The sales and the feedback were better than we expected and today we are more confident in the studio to try stuff we don’t usually do.
Finally what does the rest of 2012 hold for you as an artist and Keno Records?
Keno Records will be more about new artists like Mass Digital, Marlon Hoffstadt and Deep Future. They have great releases coming up the next months and I am really looking forward to working with them. There will also be a new Beatamines & David Jach release. These guys are on fire at the moment.
In Winter will be the next David Keno release on the label but I don’t want to think about that yet. First we have to celebrate the summer!
David Keno SHA Podcast
Harold Heath – Mescalito [Lost my dog]
Backsideduo – Till the end of time (Alex Flatner Remix) [Whist]
Mike Shannon – Foxology feat Flowing [Cityfox]
Nvelope Kind Of Dub (Jaramillo & Bastien Remix) [T Bahn]
David Keno – Heroes [NM2]
Marcus Sur – Nobody Girl [Acker Dub]
Nice7 – Bassline Soldiers [Noir]
David Keno – Shaft [Play it down]
Daniel Dexter – Work your body (Audiojack Remix) [Mother]
Session Victim – Good intentions [Retreat]