Billy Kenny chats ahead of Grietfest 2017
House and bass has a face, and it’s Billy Kenny. House and bass you may ask? Think clean but oh-so dirty.
Billy Kenny is a dynamo in the house and bass scene. His sound has the housey mid sounds driven by a low and dirty bass that just makes you want to dance. His tour schedule will bring him to SA where he will play at Fiction in Cape Town on the 24th of August and then 2 days later, the 26th he will be playing at Grietfest 2017.
This is not something you will want to miss as he brings something fresh and interesting to Electronic Dance Music.
I’d never pay to just watch a DJ play one track after another.”
Your tour schedule is off its own charts, with gigs lined up until Christmas, all over the world. How do you get through travelling so rigorously? What do you love about it?
Billy Kenny: Honestly, I’m used to it now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome to come back to my bed at the end of a string of shows, but it’s just natural now and I love being on the road. I’m constantly making new friends, playing to new crowds and all the while spreading what I love to do around the world. I don’t even see the negatives any more. The only thing I don’t like is heading to an airport after less than 2hrs of sleep, haha!
You’ve recently made the move from England to Germany. Why so? Are you happy about the move thus far?
Billy Kenny: I actually moved to LA in December, but was living in Germany for almost 3 years prior to that. Germany was amazing for me, it taught me a lot and my move there was the start of my career where I was actually able to make a living from it. I made amazing friends there including the This Ain’t Bristol crew too and it felt like home the whole time I was there.
The move to Los Angeles was mostly a career move, but also because I hate the cold haha! Anyway, things have been going great over here now and I’ll be stationed here until I feel I’m ready for my next adventure!
Music can help any and every emotion from good to bad.”
You started “This Aint Bristol” in 2014, with your 25th release out on 28 July. What is your vision for the label? Is it tough juggling producing/DJing with the admin side of running a label?
Billy Kenny: Yes, me and friends launched it in the September of 2014.
The 25th release is still sat at #1 on Beatport as we speak and it’s been out a week so we’re all super happy about that! Our vision is right on track at the moment – we’ve confirmed 4 stage takeovers on major festivals over here including Insomniac’s “Nocturnal Wonderland”, we’re taking over the main deck on the largest cruise festival on the planet, “Groove Cruise” and a bunch more to announce over the coming months.
Sales are better than ever, we’re growing faster than we could have ever imagined and we’re constantly ironing out internal creases to have the workflow between the team as smooth as possible.
You are very active on your FB page, in a very real way. (Your artist profile is more like a personal profile.)It is refreshing and delightful to see! Why is it important for you to connect so ‘intimately’ with your fans on these platforms?
Billy Kenny: I watch these big seemingly “godlike” DJ’s every day.
Nobody can touch or talk to them and they often give off the vibe that they’re more important than anyone else. The people keeping their careers alive (and mine) are the people on our social media and at shows, paying to see us perform.
If I can’t connect with those and make someone’s day now and again just by taking some time out every day to reply to them, why should I deserve to pursue the dreams these people have helped me achieve?
Besides from all that, I genuinely have so much fun chatting with the people that follow what I do! I cry with laughter at some comments and tweets, haha!
Your live sets/mixing/looping abilities are NEXT LEVEL. Is this the engineer in you or is it the classic ‘practice makes perfect’ ethos? Do you prefer live shows to DJing? Why?
Billy Kenny: Honestly, that’s 2 whole summers of playing 5hrs per night, 7 days a week.
I do believe in practice makes perfect, but think the real trick for me was learning how to get out of a mistake so quickly that nobody notices. That’s when you can get ballsy and throw in some things that may not pull off technically. I know I can just try it and escape out of it at any moment- style out a mistake so to speak.
I actually Tweeted the other day “I’d never pay to just watch a DJ play one track after another.” If it’s not a live set, I want to see the CDJ’s and mixer being used as an instrument, not just to beat match and EQ. Almost anybody can do that.
With that being said, you are playing at this year’s Grietfest in JHB. What do you look forward to? What can fans look forward to?
Billy Kenny: Yes, I am!
First time back in Johannesburg since December 2016 and I can’t wait! I honestly never plan my sets. The only thing I plan is often an intro to really get people’s attention and sometimes a closer for people to remember me by when they leave.
Everything in between is on the fly, but I do usually have an idea of the kind of stuff I want to play. That being said, don’t expect anything, but expect everything, haha!
Anyway I’m actually playing in Cape Town two days before Grietfest as well! Thursday 24th August at Fiction, bring your glow sticks!
What is music to you? From production to playing sets or even just listening to it. What about music makes you weak in the knees, as is so evident from watching your live sets?
Billy Kenny: Music can help any and every emotion from good to bad.
It’s saved lives, brought millions of people together. It gives off some kind of magical shit that makes everyone smile, dance and forget their problems. I listen to music almost all day, every day and I doubt anything will ever change that. The feeling I get when I do what I do in front of so many people that feel the same way about music is indescribable. Nothing compares to it. I get that same feeling in a crowd when watching an idol of mine play too, it’s amazing!
I doubt I ever would, but the thought of being bored with four to the floor stuff actually scares me.”
Are there any upcoming releases we can expect from you in 2017?
Billy Kenny: Yes! My remix of Claude VonStroke’s “Barrump” is coming out early October on Dirtybird.
The collaboration I did with BOT called “Just A Groove” is finally coming out late October on Insomniac Records and I’ve just finished 7 new demos which will be pitched to a few favourite labels of mine.
I’m currently working on the next Billy Kenny & Friends EP, since the first earlier this year was so successful, and I expect that will be out at the end of December/early January.
What are you listening to at the moment? Are you all house and bass/house/techno or are there some surprise artists keeping your ears warm?
Billy Kenny: At this moment in time I’m listening to Walker & Royce’s new album coming soon on Dirtybird.
It’s still 95% finished but I begged the boys to let me hear it because I’m a huge fan of their work. It’s amazing so far by the way!
Unless I’m listening to demos or promos at home though, I try to listen to anything but house most of the time. I doubt I ever would, but the thought of being bored with four to the floor stuff actually scares me, so I try not to overdo it. Tactical, right? Haha!
Thanks for having me guys, hope to see you at the Cape Town show! 🙂