Introducing Chris Keys…
Tell us a bit about yourself please.
Well thank you for the opportunity, really nice. What to say? I grew up in Johannesburg. I am a fine arts graduate from Wits University. I took to graphic design as a way to pay the bills. I travelled a bit and I am a complete music fanatic. Plus there are all the years of doing shit
How long have you been a dj and who/what were the main contributing factors to you pursuing this art-form?
I been spinning records since about ’95. Why did I get into it? I’ve collected music since i was a kiddy . sadly many of those records landed up moving off with a divorce situation. No not mine. I made tapes for everyone for years and got into pause mixing tapes for buddies. I love sharing music so I was always gonna be a dj of some kind.
Tell us about this podcast you’ve put together for Deep Absurdum. What can we, the listener, look forward to? Which mediums did you use to compile this mix? [Vinyl, CD…]
For starters its mostly 115 bpm’s and then slower. Nothing excites me more than mid tempo, in every genre. It’s mixed from some cd’s and some vinyl. It’s mostly a deep house kind of thing, some electronic. i wanted to get a lot of tracks in and I wanted it to be really heady in parts and i guess banging in others. There are some sound bits thrown over the top and a few slight edits of tracks made for the mix. Nothing major.
The story goes that you are one of the finest collectors of vinyl in South Africa, how much truth is in this and how big is your record collection?
Hahahaha! Yeah it’s funny how these rumours get started. Well i don’t know, i haven’t counted them but i have maybe 5 thousand records, maybe more. It’s not a large collection. i got rid of crates of records i had grown out of, a few years ago though. I do try to collect things that are bit special and generally i avoid buying records everyone else is or was playing at the time of purchase, there is not a lot of fluff in it. Also the collection covers everything from Rock, Funk, Soul, Disco, Folk, obscurities, early Electronica, Library rareties, House, Broken Beats, Techno, some Latin, various. Genre is not important, deepness is. At least 2 3rds of my budget goes to digging and buying older records. I can say the collection is not nearly big enough, but i do feel it’s just starting to take on some kind of real value, there are some pretty amazing things in it and it brings me much joy. I have my eye on a collection or two out there, patience patience.
What are your thoughts on this ‘new’ digital age of electronic music?
I could write a book on this topic…. Mainly i think the influx of new music moves at such a rate that it’s almost impossible to really digest what we are hearing; to let stuff grow on you where it should or could, or to hear, appreciate and learn from the nuances within great music. You remember as a kid how the listening experience was different. We played albums then, all the way through. It’s much easier to miss something that’s really good out there these days. Also Digital has taken away one of my greatest passions in life which is music stores and the strange individual social life each store would have. I worked in many record stores as a younger person, including Music & Video Exchange in Camden and Notting hill. I miss that enormously. That said it is wonderful that one can be send new tracks only days after their completion and be spinning them to an audience days later. Obviously the hard drives i have of wavs and mp3’s far exceeds my vinyl collection, but really it doesn’t hold the same romance or value for me. I will always try to buy the vinyl of a wav i really love and play a lot.
How often do you purchase records and/or how many records do you buy or receive per week?
Some weeks will go by where i will get none at all, other weeks will see an influx of a decent pile of newies and oldies. It’s not about numbers for me, i have seen local dj’s collections that are bigger than mine, but i find they include a lot of mediocre stuff or let’s say stuff that has no appeal for me. These days i avoid mediocre all together. Or at least i try to. I will probably do a cull once a year or so, it’s a work in progress. But budget dictates everything.
Which record do you never leave behind when heading to a gig?
Sadly these days there are not a lot of opportunities to play records here. I burn new cd’s for every gig I play. My philosophy on packing tunes for the night is to not have hundreds of cd’s with me. It’s the same when i play records. Work with what you have brought and make sure they’re all killers. That’s the theory anyway. Doesn’t answer your question really does it? Lately Recloose’s ‘UHF’ does the trick for me.
Do you hold down any residencies and what’s your favourite event to play at right now?
Answer to both currently is The Warm Up in Jozi. I am currently discussing other possible regulars. Warm Up is great because of the people who organise it and the punters, they’re a very special breed of music lovers; very passionate and very knowledgeable.
You also have a blog people can check out. Give us some detail on this please and what prompted you to start this?
It’s slowed down lately due to excessive workloads, but i love that thing. I had no idea what it would turn into when i started it and it was just another way to express my passion for good music. I met a lot of really great people through it and gained a sizeable following, although i think only the diehard fans really follow it these days. It has created a fantastic opportunity to connect and learn through, i was invited to do mixes for amazing people like FutureBoogie & featured on Red Rack’ems radio show because of it. A.n.o.e. has been going for 5 years now i think and i don’t think i’ll ever give it up.
Finally, you’ve been responsible for some productions yourself as well. Is it all about disco and which techniques do use when producing?
I have had 2 tracks on two 12”s, one on American Standard and also one on Magic Wand. There was also a digital only deep house slo mo remix i did for The Groovers .a duo that includes Finn Campbell Notman, one of the founding guys behind Dub Imperial. It came out on a Spanish label called Pack Up and Dance. I have done mostly edits so far, but i’ve been working on original material also. I plan to continue both even though the world of edits is well and truly saturated. There are plans of more 12”s.
Andras Fox – Magpie Echoes
Vakula – Uliyanochka
Herva – Soul Crash
Black Light Smoke – Decisions ft. Suavecito
Superbreak – Freakin’ Time (Intro Edit)
Herva – Broken (DJ Nature Remix)
Dead Rose Music Company – Your Kisses
The Mole – Dog River (Original Mix)
Soulphiction – Get The Point
Bobby Bell – Until Morning
Mungolian Jetset – Mush In The Bush
Toby Tobias – Macasu (MCDE Party Remix)
Yor – Rushed
Lay Far – Yellow (Original Mix)
Maxmillion Dunbar – Polo (Extended Mix)
The Mole – Shifter
Space Dimension Controller – The Love Quadrant
DJ Raw Sugar – Electric Funk
Billy Bogus – Disco Dehli