Filed under: Interview
Starting his musical career in 1990 after frequent encounters with the techno pioneers at the time like Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva, Kenny Larkin quickly established himself as a formidable profile in the techno field by releasing a string of renowned techno classics such as “We Shall Overcome” from Plus, as well as “War of The Words”, ” Serena X” and “Tedra” under the Dark Comedy alias.
Kenny recently returned to Japan after almost a years break where he received a warm welcome, helped by the success of his recent release ‘The Narcissist’, his first studio album in 8 years. Released on heavyweight techno label Peacefrog, it has received praise and positive reviews allover the world. Hailed by many as a techno masterpiece it brings together Kenny’s aesthetic sense for music with his passionate grooves, both cultivated to perfection though his long career in techno.
There’s more good news for his army of loyal fans, Kenny will release another new album, this time from his Dark Comedy project, later this year. In the meantime though there’s a few new 12 inch releases, again through Peacefrog, all ready to go, leaving us with no doubt that the rest of 2004 will see Kenny’s profile raising even more.
HigherFrequency.com did this exclusive interview with Kenny when he was in Tokyo, giving us the inside story on his re-emergence into the techno world.
Interview by H.Nakamura (HigherFrequency)
HRFQ : I think you visited Japan for the gig @ Yellow last June, so it’s been a year since then. How do you feel now?
Kenny Larkin : I feel great! I always love coming to Japan. It has a very unique vibe.
HRFQ : Many DJs from overseas say Japanese club scene is not only interesting but quite unique in comparing with the scene in other countries. Do you agree with that? And if yes, what do you think is the most unique point?
Kenny : I can’t figure it out why Japan’s scene is so special, and unique. It’s almost like the city of New York where the vibe is unique only to that city. Japan has the same kind of vibe, but in a different way, if you know what I mean…
HRFQ : This time you’re going to play in Osaka and Nagoya. Have you ever played there? If yes, did you find any difference from the crowds in Tokyo?
Kenny : No, I’ve never been to Osaka or Nagoya. This will be my first time.
HRFQ : I think you just finished your European tour. How was that?
Kenny : The tour was very good. It always surprises me to get such good reactions. Everyone is especially excited about the new albums.
HRFQ : In a couple of articles about techno music, some say the techno scene in the US is not as big as the scene in Europe and Japan, but do you agree with that? And can you describe how the scene is like in LA?
Kenny : It is absolutely true. The scene is the USA is nothing compared to other countries around the world. The music scene here in Los Angeles is all about hip hop. There is no other room for other styles, especially electronic music. People just aren’t interested. The techno parties that do happen are very, small. Even though I don’t go out much to techno or house events here, when I do, its always never crowded. Carl Craig played here last week, and there were only 100 people there to see him!! I’m not sure yet if I am playing this year…
HRFQ : Now, about your new album, The Narcissist… I personally think this is the most beautiful and soulful album I ever heard for a last couple of years. Can you tell us the concept of this album? How did you come up with the title like “The Narcissist”?
Kenny : The concept of this album is like any other album I released before, which is to make good music. I came up with the Narcissist title to reflect not that I was into myself like the title suggests, but because I had to rely on myself, when it came to picking the titles to appear on the album. A lot of artist’s fall into the habit of doing music that they know will please their fans. Instead of doing that, I picked the songs based on what I liked. So that is where the concept came from.
HRFQ : I think it’s been quite while since your last album and it is your debuting album from Peacefrog. Can you tell us what’s happening behind these things?
Kenny : Many reasons stopped me from making music. I was traveling a lot, I wasn’t inspired to write for a long time, because of the other horrible music that was being released, etc…
HRFQ : I was also very impressed with the quite wide-ranged sound-scape youcreated across the album, very eclectic. From what kind of music did you get inspired or influenced in producing this album? Maybe previous music of yourself because it’s Narcissist album :D)?
Kenny : I never really got inspired by other forms of music. It was intentional to do something that I specifically liked. I decided not to worry if other people got it or didn’t get it. Full artist expression was the order of the day. I could of pushed myself further with this album, but I was working on both albums at the same time, so I allowed more latitude with the dark comedy project.
HRFQ : We’re quite excited to hear your next album under Dark Comedy name “Funk Faker – Music Saves My Soul” will be released soon at May end ! And it’s Japan prior release with a bonus track only for Japanese fan! Can you tell us why you decided to release two albums in such a short period of time?
Kenny : The release date for the dark comedy album has been moved back a few months. It’s been 8 years since my last release, I should be releasing 4 albums this year!!! 🙂
HRFQ : Can you tell us what kind of difference we’ll see on this Dark Comedy album in comparing with The Narcissist?
Kenny : The difference is like nite and day. The narcissist is decidedly more electronic, whereas the dark comedy is an electronic blues/jazz/house oriented album. You will have no problems distinguishing the two from each other!!
HRFQ : Will it be released from Peacefrog worldwide later on?
Kenny : The Dark Comedy album will not be released on Peacefrog.
HRFQ : You also released a private press 12inch “Let Me Think” in April, and “Ancient Beats/Seduce Her” will follow in early May, both of which are from Peacefrog but not included in The Narcissist. Are they brand new tracks you might include in your next album?
Kenny : No, Peacefrog decided to take them off of the album and release them on 12 inch. The ancient beats track is a straight up club track, so I understand why they did that. The let me think track is a jazz track I did a few years back that was number one on the Detroit jazz station for awhile. It was never released.
HRFQ : “Let Me Think” has already been deleted from Peacefrog catalogue, and only 400 lucky people have got a chance to listen to it. But, are there any other ways for your fans to listen to this track like streaming?
Kenny : I don’t know what plans Peacefrog have in mind with regards to that…I will have to ask them. But, I think that’s what the private pressing series is all about, rare, exclusive tracks that will prove to be hard to find.
HRFQ : I saw the logo of Native Instrument on your album cover, and it looks you featured a lot of their software in your production. Which software or plug-ins did you mainly use? Reaktor?
Kenny : No, I mainly used Kontakt, FM7, Absynth. Reaktor is too complicated, and it crashes a lot!
HRFQ : What is your general feeling about the recent development of studio technology? Do you think it’s made you easier for doing production or has it brought other type of difficulty on your sound production?
Kenny : It’s made it very easy to produce music. In fact, it’s too easy! Everything can be done in a computer now from beginning to end. That’s progress!!
HRFQ : It’s well known your encounter with Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva in early 90s opened your successful career as an artist. Can you tell us how you met these two Techno giants?
Kenny : I met Richie at a club called the Shelter in Detroit, and I met John through Richie. Richie was the opening DJ for the resident DJ at the time, and I just went up to him and started talking to him. We became really cool after that I started hanging out together listening to Derrick May mixtapes all of the time. We both decided to do music, so we bought some gear, and started.
HRFQ : Which track do you think is the best in your career?
Kenny : I LOVE TEDRA!!
HRFQ : Which artist do you get influenced from the most?
Kenny : For the Dark Comedy project it was James Brown, John Lee Hooker.
HRFQ : Please give some messages to Asian fans.
Kenny : Keep supporting good dance music. Come out and support your boy:)
End of the interview
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