While ADE boasted showcases of nearly every genre this year, from techno to tech and g-house, all the way back up the mainstream to progressive house and electro, one show seemed to provide the heaviest hitting Bass House – the 44Bass x Fat Kids Cake x Roots Showcase. Featuring the biggest names in the game, like Shadow Child, My Nu Leng, and most importantly, the rapidly rising and wildly talented Producer/DJ, Billy Kenny. Between co-running the mega-bass house label “This Ain’t Bristol” and touring the world, we caught up with him just before his show at Amsterdam Dance Event.
This is your first time at ADE right? What are your impressions?
Billy: I mean I’ve only been here for the day, but from what I’ve seen I totally get it, I can see the benefits of why so many people come here. I mean I’ve already met so many people, we’ve been kind of wandering around alone for a while but when it came to a tentative meeting you realize how many extra people are here that you would have never met before. It comes in handy. It’s cool. I’m definitely looking forward to tonight! I’ll have a different story in the morning of what ADE is like.
You just got back from the Dirtybird Campout, what was that like?
Billy: Yeah that was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. It was probably the best…. I mean I wouldn’t say the best place I’ve played but definitely the coolest vibe, especially being out in the crowd. The best place I’ve ever seen like that, the vibe there was ridiculous. There were hippies, hipsters, no one judging, everyone was just really, really cool and everyone was happy. It was great. It may sound cliche, but not everybody is always like that at a festival. Free spirit and stuff.
There was only one stage right?
Billy: Yeah which was also awesome, because you didn’t want to miss anyone unless you slept. But then there’s no excuse for that.
With that lineup you can’t make people choose.
Billy: Yeah exactly. Even down to the after-hours. At two they closed down the mainstage and moved to another place, it was a crazy like barn kind of thing, and everyone just partied there till the sun came up. I mean we heard some sets there I’m pretty sure nobody’s heard. We heard a drum n bass set from Christian & Justin Martin, you’ll never hear that again. There were really awesome sets there. I did sleep through some since I was there all weekend.
I know you both recently released a track with them, how do you decide what to send over to them and what to release on your own label, “This Ain’t Bristol”?
Billy: I’ll be completely honest and say that I’d rather release with Dirtybird than my own. Dirtybird opens so many doors. You know although we already released with them I’d definitely do it again. I think one release doesn’t quite make you… like I’d never put “Dirtybird” on my Soundcloud, for me I consider people like Justin Martin a Dirtybird artist. Even Kill Frenzy, he’s released an album and an EP.
Does it ever frustrate you to have music ready but the business side get in the way?
Billy: Yeah. You’re really excited about music, but I would never send something to someone if I didn’t completely believe in it myself. You want to get it out yesterday, and the whole time you’ve got to find the right place, and if you say yes to somewhere that’s second best, you think to yourself, “why didn’t I just wait the extra month”. Dirtybird is really fast though, they put our EP out in a month, which was crazy.
Abby: We were still so excited, but we thought we would wait until the end of the year, but with them, it didn’t matter. We would have waited two years.
Billy: Yeah I remember us talking about it, like “do you think it’ll be a September release or…”. And I also thought, I don’t have to worry about anything between now and then. I don’t have to do anything. You got it. Then two days later they told us it would be April.
Abby: We were shocked
Billy: Yeah we went out to the shop and bought a bottle of wine for like 2.99 to celebrate. We were living it up!
You just had the one-year anniversary of “This Ain’t Bristol” - where do you see the future of the label headed?
Billy: Of course we’d love it to get huge, we’re trying. We hope that eventually we’ll get there. Right now my big aim would be to get everybody kind of involved, because there are some artists on it who don’t get as much spotlight as they deserve, and it would be great to do something like how Dirtybird does their quarterlies, I’d love to do something like that across Europe and eventually even take it further. We speak a lot like that in meetings, but it’s hard when you’ve only been around a year.
Although we look amazing from the outside we argue and bitch and there’s all kinds of stuff, but it works.
We’re definitely working hard on trying, but it’s a little too early to tour as a collective.
What’s your favorite place to play?
My favorite place to play is Weinendam for This Ain’t Bristol. We got like the coolest crowd there. I think I built a cool reputation there, but I only moved there January of last year, so I’m still a kind of new face there. But This Ain’t Bristol was This Ain’t Bristol before I got involved. I became a resident there and I really feel like I perfected my sets there and got to play finally what I’ve always wanted to play. Like when you play a hometown every DJ will say the same thing, you kind of get into a routine where you play what you know people want to hear, there’s no like really cool shows that you’re playing. After I moved there things started happening, but that was the first place where I could really play what I wanted to play and the order I wanted to play it and kind of experiment. I guess that’s why eventually I got a really good response there, but I think in general, for anybody to play there, that crowd is really, really cool. Second crowd though would have to be in Mozambique. They’re crazy there, but I think they all take MDMA there, which might be partly why. But for some reason Mozambique has my biggest following outside of Europe. Whenever I play there it sells out entirely. I’ve got another tour there in December which has 7 shows. I don’t know why I caught on so much there, it just became sort of a hype.
I just have to bring up “Work” and how huge it got
Both Billy & Abby start laughing
I can’t even begin to name the amount of times I’ve heard it played in all different sorts of sets. Did you ever expect it to blow up like it did?
Billy: You know, I’m sort of embarrassed how I didn’t see it coming at all. And it made me question – I said it to you too Abby – if I didn’t know that was gonna be “the track” kind of thing, how do I know that any of my stuff is gonna be the next “the track” kind of thing. And it was funny because it came out on a small, independent label, and I was really happy to be releasing with them, but it wasn’t until around 6 months after being released Hannah Wants played it, then Shadow Child played it, then some of the Dirtybird guys came across it. Then when that happened, they were all playing it and it kind of crossed boundaries with guys like Destructo playing it, it just completely crossed every boundary. I would say that that’s my most successful track, although “I Operate” sold a lot more. If “Work” had gone out on a bigger label I think it would have sold a bit more. Every other week I’d be like “Abby! Look who played it now! Who is this guy?”. Like I said I moved to Germany in January and since then I’ve got a really nice new studio deal and I guess since then it was just studio everyday.
And I was making money sound engineering for other people, that’s how I was kind of making a living, but at the same time I got my time to get in the studio everyday and I was there five days a week – I still am now, if I’m not away.
So I really had time to perfect my sound, the sound I wanted to put out. Then “Work” came out. You know that “Work” was the B-Side of that EP. No one even knows the A-Side.
Abby: And the A-Side is actually really good!
Billy: It’s called ”Call You Back”, and it’s actually one of my favorite personal productions. And it’s nothing like what I’m doing now, it’s kind of like electronica….. Skream premiered it on Radio One. And I didn’t even write “Work” then. When I went to release it they asked for a B-Side and then I made “Work” within like a week, and they were like “Yup, that’s the one”. I mean I think “Call You Back” sold better in the beginning.. I think. I don’t know! But with “Work”, you wouldn’t listen to that at home would you? On a good system maybe. But I wouldn’t listen to it on my headphones.
The Dirtybird Campout was the first time I’ve ever heard it on a really big system, and I actually got scared.
Like I remember the night before I remember standing in front of the speakers and being like “Fuck, what is that!”. This was the kind of thing where you feel it everywhere. It had about 20 subs and about 50 tops. It was crazy. And I played at like 2:30 PM and just woke everyone up I guess. I thought to myself “You can’t play this now”. And then I just went for it, and even when I played it I thought “Is this too much?”, but it was still really busy at that time which I was really happy about.
Are you the type of person who can write on the road or do you need to be in your studio?
Billy: I definitely like to sit in my studio. I write a lot of edits while I’m flying or on a train, like kind of personal things to play in my sets. I played an edit of one of Justin Martin’s tracks that I made on a plane for the first time recently and people wont stop messaging me about it. Things like that I can do, but writing a whole track I like to be kind of sat down – ashtray, cigarettes, and then I’m good. Now I can just imagine myself bringing huge CDJs and playing for everyone on a flight. One time through airport security they stopped me with my recorder – one that gets the set and the crowd, and they saw it in Amsterdam and started panicking – like “Sir, is this your bag?” and there were two other standing near, and I had to explain.
Can you name some artists that deserve more recognition?
Billy: Uhhhh, so many. A guy called Motsa from Vienna, he’s an amazing, amazing producer. He makes stuff with a house-y vibe but I wouldn’t quite call it House. Landis LaPace, but he’s about to blow up. He just turned 18 which is crazy, and I’m both jealous and scared he’s coming into this whole music world so young. I remember being drunk and saying “Don’t ever change” to him. He’s a really cool guy, humble and such a huge fan of the label. He thinks we’re the reason why he’s gaining success, but we’re far from it. If we didn’t find him, someone else would have. Hmmm, who else. Harry Judda, who we’ve got a two-track EP coming from him soon, with a remix from Genghis Clan. Those guys killed it at the Campout.
What’s your favorite show you’ve ever seen?
I mean even though I played there, everything at the Campout. But other than that, Mint Festival, which was in my hometown in the UK, I’m not a huge like party guy, but now I am when I play. But I mean I was never going out every weekend and seeing new acts, I guess from 16 on I just wanted to produce and just locked myself away. I’ve been DJing only probably a year or two less than I’ve been producing, nearly ten years now. But I thought Mint fest was super cool though, it’s gotten huge since. I’ve only been once and that was in like 2012. Now the lineup doesn’t have one person I haven’t heard of. It was my first thing like that but it was sort of late, I was 20 by then. But I did go to Creamfields when I was 16. My uncle was performing there, no wait my Aunt was! I went with my mother to it and my Uncle, he taught me about Drum N Bass. I would spend my holidays from school with him and when I got back I tried to show my friends it and they’d be like “ugh, what is that”, they just wouldn’t get it. I fucking loved it man! So me and him just spent like the whole weekend in the drum n bass tent, DJ Zinc and all them. I loved that. I can’t even remember if I got drunk. I think I did? It was kind of a weird time. I’ve been to a lot of big shows, but the first big festival with my friends only was really Mint. It’s kind of embarrassing it was so late! It’s all still new to me. Ever since then, I haven’t really been to a festival where I wasn’t playing or had great friends there who were, which is a totally different perspective.
It’s easy to like snob out in the back and talk to people you think are cool as fuck and people who think you’re cool, and that’s fun but you still have to venture off. To be honest, there are probably more drugs in the back than there are in the front.