For this Spring time Birmingham Showcase Festival blow-out on April 28th, the nearby street will be closed, the whole of the sprawling Rainbow Complex will be take over – all 6 arenas – and there will be live Art Galleries, food stalls, street performers and chill out spaces… basically a full on festival sized bonanza right in the centre of the city with sounds coming from DJs including Sub Focus, Plastician, Alex Arnout, Cera Alba, Mele and Art Department of No 19 Records who we sat down with ahead of the event. Get tickets here then read on…
For starters, why don’t you tell us how you got your start in the world of dance music?
Johnny White: For me, it was at a club called Industry nightclub in Toronto. Kenny was a resident DJ there back then in the late 90′s– he was actually my one of my favorite DJs back then, but that was my first kinda introduction to proper underground dance music.
What’s it like working together after both becoming respected figures in the scene, individually?
JW: It’s great; it’s very different obviously than working on your own. There’s another person and another person’s ideas and perspective to consider at all times. But we’ve been friends for years, lived together, worked together on a different level, putting out his music on my record label, No. 19 Music, and DJing together for years together in Toronto. It’s a fun collaboration. I really respect him as an artist too, and vice versa, so you always come up with something interesting.
How would you describe your sound?
JW: I think it’s mostly house and there’s something new to it. But it’s a twist on what we’ve both been listening to our whole lives — [Kenny] about 20 years in the business and me about 15 or so. We take cues from all the people we’ve loved and listened to all these years and it’s just a collaboration that speaks to where we’re both at right now, mentally and musically.
What inspires your overall musical aesthetic? As in, what kinds of media, be it music, film, literature, art…?
JW: I’m a lover of art, not just music, right… But it doesn’t just always come from electronic music, obviously. It’s not even what I listen to often when I’m relaxing. But a lot of where we grew up and what we’ve been through and your relationships with people affect it more than anything. The city that we live in, your habitat, your family, your friends and the people you surround yourself with: I think those are the biggest influences more than anything.
What’s it like being a part of the Crosstown Rebels family?
K.G: It’s great. It’s something I was a fan of for a while before I started working with everybody on the label. I mean, Damian [Lazarus] I’ve known for years. I’ve known Jamie [Jones], I’ve known a lot of the guys for a long time and it’s like… Actually, I can’t even really put it into words how much it means to me, and I’m sure I speak for Kenny, too. To be working at this level with all these guys that we love and respect and they’ve actually become some of our best friends, ya know?
And to be able to work with labels like Hot Creations? Get Physical? And artists like Jamie Jones– who’s an absolute inspiration; Lee Foss, Soul Clap… I can’t even imagine.
JW: Yeah Jamie’s great., pure class. Lee & the Soul Clap guys are a lot of fun. I mean we have a ton in common, like as far as vibe and taste in music. Being the same age and all of us having grown up in North America, we have a lot in common right off the bat and they’ve become some of my best friends as well.
What’s coming up for Art Department in 2012?
JW: Live show. That’s what we’re working on right now.
Are you looking forward to the Birmingham Showcase Festival?
JW: Of course, Birmingham has some great line ups, to be playing there on a different kind of line up, with the likes of Sub Focus, who will be amazing of course. Its a great venue too so all in all it should make a for a great show.
Anything else in the pipeline?
KG: We have been working on an album with Deniz Kurtel, so look out for that in the near future. But for now we are getting ready for the live show which will be showcasing this year.