Bassweight Sessions 1: Kelly Dean

Kelly @ Smog Sunday’s w/ J:Kenzo (May 6, 2012)

Yo fam, what’s good?!  It’s already halfway through the week, which is a blessing in itself, so let’s start getting those vibes going that are going to bring us into the weekend.

Today we sit down with one of the many talented frontmen for the Los Angeles super-power, SMOG.  Kelly Dean has been involved with the inception of what is now one of the most well-rooted dubstep scenes in the US since, essentially, day one.  From underground art galleries to 5,000 person-sellout shows, Kelly has been amidst the evolution of Los Angeles dubstep.

While LA is largely associated with the aggressive, tear-out, and more commercially recognized styles of  bass, this man has managed to keep innovation going within the deeper side of the spectrum, adding his own creativity to the foundation sounds.  Alongside the SMOG family, Kelly has been bringing in some of the most highly respected figures in the deep scene, with the ‘Smog Sundays’ weekly.  I’ve made it out to as many as my life allows, and I have yet to be let down!  Much respect out to the crew for that!  Now, hopefully we can get some bassweight business going on a Friday or Saturday night, too 😉

Having racked up a sufficient amount of releases on labels like Sub Pressure, Gamma Audio, Shift Recordings, and Smog Records, to name a few, he is no stranger to the buttons.  Releasing drum and bass early on in his career but then switching his focus to dubstep in 08′, the man has definitely been on an upward path of production quality.  With his music receiving the remix treatment by Excision, Chewie, and the engineering mastermind, Von D, it should come as no surprise that his ascent has been steady.  Production aside, Kelly is also a man who has quality mixing skills, whether it be live or on two decks.  Caught his set before J:Kenzo last Sunday and he smashed it, flawlessly bringing in big tune after big tune, crossing between deep and soulful.

Anyways, let’s see what the LA badman has to say, shall we?

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What up Kelly!  First off thanks for the support with this interview.
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How have things with the SMOG family been on the late?  You guys have been bringing some killer performances the past couple months with your Smog Sunday’s; Seven, Noah D, Antiserum, J:Kenzo, and then you got Rustie and Goth-Trad all coming within the next couple months.  Respect!
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Yeah man the next few months are going to be great with all the deep artists coming through.  I’m really happy with the way things are going with SMOG here in LA.  There’s no place i’d rather be really!
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Any big things been going in the studio for you?  Your EP, ‘I Got You’, on Sublife Recordings hit the shelves on the 30th, anything else forthcoming that we should keep our eyes out for?
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Yeah the “I Got You” EP just dropped and I’m really happy to get that out.  That was one of the first tunes I made and really sat on that one for a long time.  Thankfully Lukeino with Sublife Recordings heard it and was interested in getting it out.  I really dig the remixes from Pawn and Lukeino!  As for other projects forthcoming, I have a “Easy Now” remix for Olie Bassweight and Werd 2 Jah that should be out very soon.  There’s a remix for did for Juakali’s “Standing Firm” that I haven’t got a confirmed date for just yet, but look out for that.   Also currently I’m wrapping up another EP, release info for that will be announced pretty soon.
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Seeing as you’ve been involved with the Los Angeles scene since it really formed into its own ‘scene’ (circa 07), what are your thoughts on the directions it’s gone, and where it is today?  Up until now we’ve only been able to get the perspective of producers that are only (for the most part) exposed to the US scene while on tour and such, so it will be nice to hear from someone who sees it at all times.
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The past 5 years have been crazy to say the least.  Back in 07 when I went to my first dubstep event it was a very small scene of people that were excited to hear a brand new form a music in a tiny club.  Flash forward to 2012 and there are sold out shows at legendary venues.  I don’t know any form of music that has gained that much popularity and acceptance that quickly.  There are so many directions the music has gone and that is mainly because there is so much potential in the eclectic directions you can take it. The amount of talent that comes through LA any given week is pretty incredible.  I don’t see myself leaving any time soon!
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What was the most memorable night that you have from LA’s dubstep history?  What makes it stand out that way?
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Well, its pretty hard to pinpoint one specific night.  There have been so many.  But there was a night at The Exchange in LA where Redbull hosted a culture clash with Smog, StonesThrow, Dim Mak and The Dub Club.  All 4 crews came together to battle each other in 15 minute rounds.  The vibe and excitement was thick!!  It came down to the wire between Smog and StonesThrow.  StonesThrow ended up winning the event in a very close call but it was amazing to have the acknowledgement for that status in LA.  For that we were pretty grateful and it made for a very special evening.  We also recently had a Smog vs Respect night at the House of Blues on Sunset.  We did it last year and both years have been very successful for a all local lineup.  LA is very supportive of its home players and that was also a very special event for us.
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Do you have any advice for producers that are looking to “come up” in the game?  Things to seek, things to avoid?
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I would say the biggest problem I see with producers trying to get noticed is trying to emulate popular artists.  This only makes it harder to get noticed because your style will sound common and wont have a unique brand to it.  Most label owners want to hear something new and exciting rather than something that will be stale in a month after release. Above all the most important thing is to have fun and try not to stress if you don’t hear back from labels.  Keep it moving, stay creative and have fun!  You can start up your own label and create your own brand now so there is always other options.
Considering the entire history of music, who is the one person that you would want to work with?  Dead or Alive (obviously).
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I’ve always been inspired by Danny Elfman’s work.  I think it would be challenging to try and score a film the way he does.  To lay down emotions behind scenes seems like such a fun project.  I also think Bonobo is a musical mastermind and would be honored to work with him.  So my dream collaboration would have to be working with those two on the same project.
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Who shot Biggie and Pac?
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Damn, thats a tough one.  I’d say it was all a cover up and both are sipping cocktails on a beach somewhere laughing at the whole Coachella hologram thing.  hahaha
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Wanna Big up anyone?
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Bigup to my Smog family, Lukeino at Sublife, Kial at Sub Pressure, Shift family in Seatle. Juakali and Olie Bassweight get massive shouts!  Bigup to eveyone who supports my music!  And finally Bigup to Bassweight Society for shedding light on deeper sounds across the globe!
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Again, a shout out to Kelly for his support with the interview!  I also want to shout out to SMOG for their dedication and deliverance to quality dubstep in California (and now spreading across the states!).
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Below you will find a mix that Kelly Dean uploaded for this feature from his live set on April 18, 2012, in support of Truth and Silkie.  This mix is jam-packed full of huge tunes!  A must listen.  Also, you will find links directing you to his Soundcloud, Facebook, and artist profile on the SMOG page.  Be sure to check them out and support the artist by purchasing his music!  Show the SMOG family some love too by stopping by their Facebook and dropping a line.
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That’s it for today!
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To the gods.
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-Kinman
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