Mervin Malone
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Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Mervin's 13 Questions with King Britt!

Aria is honored to welcome DJ, remixer and electronica pioneer, King Britt!

Let's start with your origins, 'Britt…

You grew up in southwest Philadelphia. 'Philly' — alongside Detroit and Chicago — is rightly revered as one of the most prolific hubs of modern soul music in the Western world. Your album work — particularly When the Funk Hits the Fan — showcases a strong appreciation for jazz, soul and funk.

1. What musicians inspired you in your (musically) formative years?

Well, my parents were heavy into soul and jazz. My mom was friends with Sun Ra and 'Blakey — my dad into the funk: James Brown, etc. — so this was the root of my upbringing. Then, growing up in Philly with amazing music from Gamble and Huff, I really appreciated songwriting!!! So groups like the O'jays, JBS, Sun Ra Arkestra, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Mtume (jazz stuff), Doug and Jean Carn, etc.

You toured — for a time (and under the name of Silkworm) — with the highly innovative jazz/hip hop group, Digable Planets.

2. How did your association with Digable Planets come to be?

I was working at Tower Records in Philly when Butterfly came in looking for a rare CD....I told him we didnt have it but i knew where to take him — we met later and just clicked. Then he told me he needed to make copies of a demo tape; I said stop by the crib and the rest is history. He made the copies — went to NYC — got the deal and bam! Grammy ! Lol ...

3. What DJs and/or producers — or influences in general — really made the case for house music in your life?

Well, for me it was T Alford (NJ) — friends with Blaze and Casio Ware — he really got me open to the NJ sound — Big Beat, etc — early Danny Teneglia — Frankie Knuckles, of course (Sound Factory days) — Morales (Red Zone days) — and Mancuso (I was a Lofty). Producers: Burrell —  Blaze — Larry Heard — A Guy Called Gerald (with 808 state) .

4. While we're on the subject, who are some of your favorite remixers?

I love Mark de Clive-Lowe, Bugz in the Attic, Jazzanova and Charles Webster!!! DFA!!! Junior Sanchez — they all have balls!!!

5. Do you enjoy the more prestigious aspects of being a world-class DJ and remixer? (i.e. travel, parties, recognition etc.)

Love travelling — I am so grateful to be able to travel and share my love for sound! Recognition is whatever — I love the DINNERS !

You've done remixes for the likes of Tori Amos, Bebel Gilberto and 4hero. You're also a remixer of choice for vintage remix projects; you've appeared on Motown Remixed, Everybody Dance and Verve Remixed among others and have re-interpreted tracks by Edwin Starr, Herbie Mann, Tony Scott and Curtis Mayfield, among others.

6. Of all your remixes, which are your favorite(s)?

Ha! Well my all-time favorite is "Footsteps in the Dark" — Isley Brothers, but the label didnt like it. Everytime I play it people freak — its deep dark and sexy — slow — Tori is another one — loved doing that, as I'm a huge fan! Everything but the Girl was another one, because I've loved the song since high school — and last but not least, Soul Dhamma -"Flower" — classic...I didn't know what I was doing !!

I (very) recently had the pleasure of attending one of your live mix shows in my hometown of Austin, Texas. I must say – yours is a fascinating aural mosaic! I felt swept into some sort of surreal dream-state wherein I couldn't resist dancing – conscious of myself, but only as an afterthought of the beats and melodies issuing forth from the speakers. You really made the audience a part of the music, and vice versa. I immediately reflected on the Acid-house craze of the late '80s; like that movement, you utilize a lot of unique sounds into your mix – some natural, some ethereal.

I realize that a competent DJ carries his/her tracks with them to each performance, but you seemed so natural and fluid in your mixing…

7. Is DJing second-nature to you? That is, do you extensively plan your sets before your shows, or is it sort of an instinctive drive that kicks in when you're at the DJ booth?

It's totally UNplanned — I have a pallette of sounds and songs and I paint a picture with each gig. I try to create atmosphere as much as I can — bring you into a world, so to speak! Sometimes it's hard to keep the artistic side alive, lol......

You are an experimental artist in every since of the word. While you're most certainly associated with house music and electronica, you have shown on your album work and remixes that you can move — quite easily, I might add — from house to hip hop to funk to broken beat. More, you seem comfortable in any and all of these styles and genres; King Britt isn't easily boxed in — but then none of the artists we've featured here on Aria are...

8. How would you define yourself as a musician?

I am music — every part of me is music !

9. Do you find genre-specific labels limiting? (e.g. House remixer)

Yes i do, but people kinda need these to get an idea of what to expect; with me, my label is loooooong... lol .

Now I'd like to switch gears and talk a little more about your production work.

You collaborated with Grammy winner Jody Watley on "The Essence" — a brilliant broken beat track that was featured on your Black to the Future collection, as well as her Midnight Lounge album and — more recently — the This is What Radio Should Sound Like compilation. This track is unique for its use of colorful melodies and multi-tracking. Indeed, it harkens back to Ms. Watley's best ("Still a Thrill", anyone?)

10. How did "The Essence" come to be?

I have always — always — always — loved Jody Watley. Not only is she a great singer, but a beautiful soul — inside and out — she is the definition of love in my book. So, I first wanted to work with her on Re-Member's Only. The song "Rising" was written for her, but her manager said she didnt like it — so Kathy Sledge did it — I came across Jody over Email and we talked. Then boom —  "The Essence" — a song for all young women everywhere. A song of self-realization....

In recent years, you've worked with an exceptional roster female vocalists — Michelle Shaprow; Alma Horton; Ellie Perez.

11. Any new talents you'd like to clue us in on?

Oh yeah — lol. On MySpace, there are some of the most talented singers!!! Kelly Evans from Canada; Chris Rouse from Toronto; Eric Rico from LA; Santi White - Philly, Nikki Jean - Philly; Aries, of course — all coming sooooon!

You also have a great working relationship with progressive soul singer/musician, Vikter Duplaix.

12. How did you and Vikter meet?

Hahahahahaha....we went to high school together, 9-12 — and we weren't really tight in high school. I floated to different cliques — just into all things — he was mainly hip hop and a dj, so i really didnt hang with him 'til college when he used to come to Silk City to our legendary Back to Basics events — then he played me a demo tape — WOWOWOWOWOWOW!

13. What's next for King Britt?

Trying to break into the pop world; I need to reach a larger audience. Just sent a song to Britney and working on some things for Kelly Clarkson — not sure if they will accept, but the door is open !!!

You can visit King Britt at


Posted at 02:10 pm by Mervin Malone


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