Inner Circle : Khalil
What got you into DJ-ing?
Firstly a love of music, Hip Hop in particular, and hearing DJ's like Premier scratching on tracks, DJs like Shortly Blitz & Big Ted on Radio, listening to mixtapes like Soundbombing 2 as well as my friends DnB mixtapes. Just found it fascinating, was just really interested in it and wanting to be able to do it. As a teenager a few of my friends were DnB DJs and when one was upgrading his equipment I ended up buying his old belt drive turntables and shitty mixer, so it all started there. I'd just buy records I loved and could afford lol and spent hours messing about with them. Was just something I loved doing for the fun of it and when i kinda figured out how to mix and do a few scratches i'd just make mixtapes for friends and for me to listen to
What defines your sound?
I'm just happy that I sound like me.. There's a kind of consistency with how I play. I've been told, and i'd like to think that, if you hear me play, or listen to a mix it always sounds like me irregardless of what genre's i'm playing. I try not to follow trends for the sake of it, and i'm very conscious of the power of music and how it affects people so I make sure there's a balance to what I play, and aim to play enough uplifting music and create a good vibe. Shouts to Eric Lau for the in depth discussions on the power of music and how it affects people all those years ago, it's something I think about a lot.
What keeps you motivated?
Totally depends on what's going on, it can be hard to keep motivated. Positive feedback is always nice, but just chatting with other like minded DJs is always really inspiring. Like life in general, there's times when you're on top and everything is amazing, you play the biggest and best parties, meet your idols on a level, money is great, bookings are rolling in and everything is beautiful. Don't really need any other motivation in those times... But then there are times when things aren't clicking, things keep falling through, there's no work and all you see is everyone else killing it, It can be really tough. I think of it like waves, you just have to enjoy the highs, but know that when you're down it's not going to stay that way, so keep your head down, collaborate, try to work your way out of it and keep going..
Is there anyone/anything that you look to for inspiration?
DJs that inspire me are the likes of J Rocc and Theo Parrish, I love how they play, how it seems like the music flows through them, and they're able to move between genres and styles of music that you wouldn't think makes sense, and somehow they make it work. Also just a lot of friends, and seeing how they create their own thing and bring ideas to life. In terms of DJ's, it's the ones that find ways to play music they love alongside music people expect to hear and build their own scene and events around this, Moma & Yellowtech are definitely two in NYC who are doing this, but even seeing what Snips has achieved over the last couple years with his music has been inspiring.
What kind of music do you feel the most connected to?
Totally depends on my mood, there's so much music that gives me goosebumps and really hits me.
Who’s on your radar that’s up and coming from your area (or in general)?
A11ewya. She's amazing, so much emotion in her voice. First met her a few years ago at our BackToLife party in NYC, we had her perform her first live show at one of our events and she's been killing it ever since. Thankful I get to DJ for her shows. Her EP will be out later this year, but there's some amazing demo's on her soundcloud. I'm definitely a fan
Favorite thing or artist to listen to right now?
Changes from week to week, and i've actually been listening to a lot of older albums from start to finish which has been great, but over the past few months, i've really loved Fatima's 'And Yet It's All Love' album on Eglo Records, ELIZA's 'A Real Romantic' and Noname's 'Room 25'
Favorite spot to grab a bite in NYC?
Way too many to have a favourite, but why do a lot of my favourites keep closing down. Does that mean i have bad taste?
What interested you about playing The Wave?
I love playing different cities and countries, it's always a bit of a challenge and test of yourself playing to a crowd you don't know in a city you don't know and that doesn't know you. Plus i love seeing different places, so was a great excuse to come to Boston and spend a few days there.
What was your perception of Boston before you played The Wave?
I guess just the stereotypes. The Irish, Boston Celtics, obviously the Universities, Catholics (a lot of the bad stuff), Gangs.. whatever I've seen on TV and in movies lol. (sorry)
People are really nice! It's a smaller city than I thought, modern with a lot of history... Like anywhere it sounds like it has it's issues with diversity and finding a way for people to properly live together. I struggle with the homelessness and drugs that you see openly on the streets, but that seems to be like that in most cities in America
Digital or vinyl?
I just realised the other day that i've been DJing digitally longer than I played with Vinyl. That kinda blew my mind because I still think of digital DJing as a newer thing. I don't miss carrying 3 bags of records on buses to and from gigs or the hours of preparation packing those bags before each gig, but I am quite nostalgic for those days, the whole record store culture and having actual places to connect to people outside of the club. But yeah, digital for me now.
Can you tell us a bit about how you founded Livin’ Proof and Back To Life?
I'm sure Snips has mentioned LP...
When I moved to NY I knew I wanted to start my own party as it felt like there weren't many parties that had the same kind of energy as clubs in London. So the idea was simply to bring a bit of that London clubnight vibe and energy to NY. It wasn't about creating a cheesy UK theme party, it was just being able to incorporate a lot of UK club music into the sets and DJ like I would in London, but in New York. I re-connected with Pauli the PSM who was already living in NY and along with him, Move Forward Music and Mel, we managed to create something really special. It's been an amazing 3 and half years so far, managed to bring a community together and been so thankful to have so many incredible artists come and play the party. I'm still amazed at the artists who've been a part of it so far, and think being in NY has been key to some of that. It's an amazing city where things can just happen!
How long have you been in the states for, and what’s been the toughest thing you’ve had to get use to so far?
Coming up to 4 years nows. Time flies. The hardest thing is probably having to start again, and not having your close friends around, in terms of the people you've known for years and years. No one really knows or cares about what you've done before, so it's humbling and takes time.
Why did you decide to make the leap across the pond?
A long distance relationship. One of us had to make the move and i'd always loved the idea of living somewhere else, so I got a visa (Was a lot longer and expensive than that sentence makes out lol)
Are there any clear differences between London and New York? Things you love/hate about either city?
I love them both, but there's so many things each one does better than the other. London is a LOT cleaner than NY. I miss that.
What has your experience been like being someone that’s multi-racial growing up in the UK? Is it any different living in the states now?
I don't think I have an answer for this, it's definitely more of an ongoing conversation. Being mixed race in the UK is different depending on where in the UK you are, and i guess what mix you are... Growing up in north London I honestly wasn't aware of it, maybe because I was young and I had mixed group of friends. I spent my teenage years split between a village in East Sussex, and London on the weekends and being there was the first time I became aware that I was "different" and i think that affected me... As you get older you understand things better and find the best way to navigate situations, and try to understand where people are coming from. Theres definitely been issues in London because of race that have been ridiculous and really upsetting, but i've always felt that London is, for the best part, a real multicultural city where people are accepting of each other, can live and work together, more than anywhere else i know. If anything I think the issue of segregation in London is based a lot on financial and class systems, which in turn does affect minorities more. In the states, i think i'm in a weird position where being British almost takes me out of the conversation. There's definitely a thing where people have to put you in a box to understand and make sense of you. It's like you have to be labeled and then that's what you are. I don't know. It's a huge conversation and i'm still learning a lot about it through talking to people and my own experiences, and it is important to keep talking and learning. Personally I find people like Akala and John Barnes really insightful and great people to listen to
You can catch Khalil and his really cute cat on the gram or any of the places listed after the jump :)
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