David Kennedy, the Leeds resident behind Ramadanman and Pearson Sound, is on fire.
Not only has he produced some of the best dance floor singles of the years in ‘Grab Somebody’, ‘Work Them’ and ‘Glut’, 2010 has seen Kennedy further hone his craft as a remixer, explore the more abstract side of Ramadanman on a self-titled double-pack, and announce details of his new vinyl-only club night, Acetate.
After the comment box debate that followed FACT’s news piece on Acetate, David wanted to talk more about the idea behind the night; a conversation that progressed into a geek out about custom-built mixers, clubs moving away from vinyl and more.
You’ve started a new vinyl-only night in Leeds, Acetate. How did it start, and what were your reasons for doing it?
“Well, it was originally just supposed to be one night – I know the guys from Wire, the club, as we used to do Ruffage [Hessle Audio club-night] there. I think it’s the best club in Leeds; it ticks all my boxes, it’s not too big, good soundsystem, etc. etc. I was talking to Sam [Floating Points] about how he’s got his [custom-made] mixer, and ended up getting something similar… And it really got me into vinyl again, really. So I thought it would be a fun thing to do.”
What is the thing with Floating Points’ mixer? I’ve heard about this but I haven’t seen him playing using it.
“He’s got this mixer that was custom-made by this guy in Paris, Jerome, and he custom-makes these mixers – I’ve been to visit him, to pick my one up, he’s based in this little courtyard in Paris. He’s an older guy; a big enthusiast, and he’s got connections to all the house guys out there.
“Anyway, he designed this mixer, which is the world’s first portable rotary mixer… because rotary mixers are this big old school house thing, that was what a lot of the music was originally played on, and they’re having a bit of a revival it seems. The music sounds amazing on them; when I played my decks through it the difference was incredible. I’d never heard my vinyl sounding like that. I bought this master isolator, because rotary mixers don’t have EQ generally, so I have this isolator on top which allows me to EQ.”
Yeah, the only time I’ve used one the lack of EQ really threw me.
“It’s a different style of mixing, really. The first time I used it, I was like ‘what, no EQ – how’s this gonna work?’ I suppose you have to be a bit more conscious about volume, and worry less about long mixes. Sam’s mixer actually has a bit more EQ control than the one I’ve got, but it’s not like a Pioneer where you can cut the bass and it all goes – when you’re doing that, you’ve got more stuff altering the [purity of the] sound, and I suppose that’s the philosophy behind these mixers.”
Are you bringing your rotary mixer to Acetate?
“Yeah, Sam might bring his as well but I don’t think he’s getting there ‘til after the night’s started, so it might get a bit hectic with unplugging stuff. For some of the other nights, I’m gonna run an Allen & Heath [mixer] through my rotary; I like the idea of people being able to choose their mixer at a club. For example, I might play some dubstep at one of the future Acetates and I wouldn’t want to mix that on a rotary. Different mixers are designed for different types of music, I think that’s how you’ve got to approach it.”
You mentioned to me earlier that clubs seem less and less tailored for vinyl; is this something that also prompted Acetate?
“Yeah, the situation seems to be getting worse and worse. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, because sometimes if I go to a gig and play vinyl and have a nightmare, part of me thinks it’s the club’s fault, and that I shouldn’t have to bring CDs just to cope with the situation, but then another part of me thinks I should be prepared for this. But then, why should I have to compromise by bringing three different formats when it’s the club’s fault that they don’t have working decks or whatever?
“I guess it’s not so much a reaction, more just the fact I’d like to play at a night where I can bring my records without any worries – I’ll make sure I’ve got a couple of spare needles there, I’ll bring my isolators, etc. I want DJs to be able to come with their big bag of records and not have to worry about anything else; just focus on their set and it sounding great.”
Something else you said that resonated with me [in the comments section of FACT’s news piece on Acetate] was that there’d be a lack of pressure to play up-front material…
“Well I probably feel that pressure less now – if say, I turned up to my next booking and played a house set, it might go down well, but I don’t feel that’s what I’m there to do. I don’t feel that it’s something imposed on me; it’s not what I would want to do if someone was coming to see me play as Ramadanman. I wouldn’t want to do that unless I was billed to play it. So I guess the point of Acetate is that people can play exactly what they want to play, and it doesn’t matter if people don’t recognise 100% of the tunes or whatever, if that makes sense?”