He’s been an in-demand DJ on the scene for many years… but rather than resort to the basic pop songbook that so many DJs live for, he spins to the beat of his own drum. Having recorded a full-length album and filmed videos loaded with legendary nightlife cameos, he was a natural choice to provide the soundtrack to one of May’s most anticipated blowouts. Let’s get high for DJ Kindbud!
Thotyssey: Hey Kindbud, thanks for talking to us!
DJ Kindbud: Hey! Thanks for inviting me to chat.
So, you’ve been a popular DJ and recording artist for awhile now, and I wanted your opinion on this batch of new songs coming from all the pop princesses these past few weeks: Gaga, Katy, Miley, Bruno Mars (lol) etc. I don’t see a lot of inspiration or originality here. Do you think maybe pop music as we know it needs a major shakeup, or is there still good stuff out there?
I’m certainly not the best person to ask about current pop music, but from what I have heard I think you are correct. I suppose everything is relative, but I do feel bad for these newer generations growing up with today’s pop music. As you said, I just don’t see much musical inspiration in it. But of course, there is still good stuff out there, just a bit harder to find.
If I was going to a night where DJ Kindbud was at the booth these days, what should I expect to hear?
You’ve had a pretty interesting DJ history… but before we dive into that, we better start at the beginning. Where’s your hometown?
I”m from Randolph, Massachusetts. It’s a town 20 minutes south of Boston.
I understand that your DJing really came into it’s own in Barcelona.
Yes. My first DJ gig was in 2002 for a friend’s birthday party in Barcelona, where I lived from 2000 to 2008.
What were that city’s dancefloors like at the time? What were people into, and how did it inspire the music you were playing?
Well, when I first started DJing, I was a hip hop DJ. Which was good, because it set me apart–especially given my background, being a foreigner. But when I moved to Barcelona, the club scene was amazing.
In particular, there was this one club called La Paloma (which in English translates to both “dove” and “pigeon”). It was a huge live music venue that had salsa bands and singers early in the evening, and then switched to full on dance club at night with DJs etc. The popular night was on Thursdays, called the Bongo Lounge. I went pretty religiously to La Paloma, was exposed to lots of different types of house music there, and I think that set the tone for me in terms of inspiration and seeing the power of DJs, dance music, and the whole club scene in general.
You and your DJ team ECS made their mark all over that city.
Yeah, we were turning it. ECS stands for East Coast Syndicate, comprised of myself and 2 other friends living in Barcelona at that time; Charles Hampton Brown from Brooklyn and Howard Perry from DC. They are the biggest influences on me in terms of getting into house music in the first place, and also giving me the confidence to trust my abilities both as a DJ and as a producer/songwriter/vocalist.
What made you decide it was time to come to New York?
Ultimately, what made me decide to move to NYC was actually visiting NYC. Despite being from Massachusetts, I had never come to NYC until 2006/2007. Seems strange, I know, but NYC never really called to me until then. But after experiencing the energy here, and the people, I was hooked. So I decided to sublet my apartment in Barcelona for 4 months, and got a 4 month studio sublet in the east village. Over 9 years later, I’m still here.
Have you been back to Spain since?
Oh yes. I will be back there in August. I try to go every year.
You started spinning NYC venues in a big way pretty soon after you got here, it seems.
Yeah things just sort of fell into place, I was very fortunate.
What have been some of your favorite New York DJing experiences?
I’ve had so many amazing experiences DJing here. One that stands out in particular was maybe 5 or 6 years ago, when I DJed for Lina’s birthday party at 1 Oak. That night was also one of the first times I met Ladyfag; she was hosting at the time. It was such a fun night, all the right people were there and the energy was just perfect.
And speaking of Lina, we used to DJ every week together at the very beginning of Formika and Mark Nelson’s party, The F Word. That was also a highlight–we had so much fun DJing together. I love seeing her doing her thing these days at her party TBS.
DJing at APT was a big highlight for me. I remember being so nervous before that gig. Everything worked out great, though, I wish that place were still open. Spinning with DJ Gomi at The Cock for my album release party was another amazing night. DJing upstairs at 11:11 with Honey Dijon and downstairs with Michael Magnan were also two big highlights. That’s the great thing about NYC, there’s just so much talent here. So many DJs to keep you on your toes, and keep you working to make yourself better and better.
The album you released in 2013, Dead Beat City, has so many great, well-produced tracks. How did you enjoy that recording process?
First off, thank you. Glad you liked it. Dead Beat City was an amazing experience, I learned so much from it. To have DJ Gomi as a mentor throughout the entire process was priceless. I mean, he’s a musical genius. Just having him believe in me and allow me to put out a full length album on his label, was truly inspiring, and I’ll never forget it. I think the album itself served as a good jump off point for me, especially in NYC. Prior to moving here, the tracks that I released in Barcelona were never self produced. They were tracks that featured me, or East Coast Syndicate, as a writer/vocalist. So being able to self produce most of the album was definitely a creative milestone for me.
You shot a lot of genuinely entertaining, conceptual videos for some of the tracks. “The Remix is Dead” features several nightlife cameos. Sherry Vine plays your mom! How fun was making that video?
Sherry Vine is the best. She’s a professional. I had so much fun shooting all those scenes with her, in my Ninja Turtle onesie. “The Remix Is Dead” video was a huge creative endeavor for me. We shot that video over 3 months or so, ‘we’ being myself, Xander, and Francis Legge. There were so many moving parts, conflicting schedules with all the cameos, superstorm Sandy, last minute location changes, etc. It was a lot! But definitely all worth it when I look at the result.
I’m a big opponent of generic music videos. I feel if your gonna do something that’s been seen over and over again, it’s useless. I grew up with MTV when they actually played music videos, and that definitely has had a long lasting impact on my view of visual art and how it connects to music. So with every video I create, I try to push myself to do something that’s not only conceptually new and fresh, but something that can also stand alone as art itself.
It’s greatly appreciated when people take the art form seriously! I also like your video for “Don’t Touch Me,” which is a long single take with several people popping in and out of frame in reverse motion, an ode to U2’s classic video for “Numb.” That could not have been easy to do.
Yeah, we actually did a Pop-Up Video version of the “Don’t Touch Me” video, because we kept getting asked so many questions about it. Miraculously it only took us about 5 or 6 takes to get it right. The more difficult task was getting all those personalities in one place, and on time.
And the advantage of a single take video is that it only takes one day to shoot, so it was a lot different from “The Remix Is Dead” experience. Also, it was really remarkable how much everything lined up with the music when we played the video backwards. Some of that was practice, but a lot of it was pure luck.
Are you ready to record something new?
Oh yes, I never stopped. Since the album came out, I’ve been doing more collaboration stuff with my TradeCraft production partner DJ Bobby Duron. We’ve done official remixes for Beyoncé, Ultra Nate, and Rich White Ladies. And we’ve also done some bootleg remixes of some classic tracks such as Khia’s “My Neck My Back” and Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” both of those can be found on our TradeCraft Soundcloud page. I also did a collaboration with The Carry Nation called “Believe This,” which came out on Hannah Holland’s London-based label Batty Bass.
Currently, I’m finishing up my next album which will be out later this year entitled The Soho Sessions. Super excited about this project. It includes production by Chad Jack (who did the remix for “The Remix Is Dead” that we used for the video), Bobby Duron, and of course yours truly. So stay tuned for that–already planning the music videos for a few of those tracks.
And apart from The Soho Sessions, I’m also still working with DJ Gomi on a few new singles that will hopefully be out soon.
Very exciting! In the meantime, there are some gigs where can find you DJing. Like WACK, Saturday nights at the Cock, where you spin in the sexy dungeon. Do you ever get, um, distracted while you’re DJing that one?
[Laughs] nothing shocks me at The Cock anymore. I’ve been DJing there for over 8 years now… so yeah, I guess I’ve gotten used to it.
WACK Saturdays are super fun. I love the new venue; it’s great having two floors open on the weekends. There’s actually space for people to dance now. It’s more like a proper club, and different from all other bars/clubs. The basement feels so much like a dungeon, it’s like you could be in Berlin or somewhere.
And here’s a big event coming up this Friday that you’re spinning: The Wonder Ball at the Hudson Terrace! This is gonna be a huge party that Monica Blewinsky is throwing to raise funds for Marc Singer’s play Alice is Burning, starring Dusty Ray Bottoms. Isn’t it great when art, theater and nightlife join forces like that?
Yes, definitely. Looking forward to turning it at the Wonder Ball for sure. It’s always nice when different art forms in NYC meet to create a special event like this one.
Okay, in closing… prompted by your name, would the country be a little less insane if every was smoking some actual kind bud?
Heard! Thanks, Kindbud!
DJ Kindbud spins for WACK! Saturdays at the Cock (10pm). He will also DJ THe Wonder Ball at the Hudson Terrace on Friday, May 19th (10pm). Follow Kindbud on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, iTunes and his website.