While Kaye (Darker Than Wax) may be a scene stalwart from back in the day, he remains a key innovator today with new toys and projects constantly adding to his repertoire and bag of tricks. Catch him perform an exclusive live set exploring a techier side just for Midnight Shift. Watch his 'lil teaser video 'Control Shift' here for a clue.
So how did you actually get started?
I was originally a saxophonist, and like most saxophonists starting out, I wanted to play Jazz. Jazz music was my original influence that got me into music in the first place. Miles Davis changed everything for me when I was 14 years old! At that time I told myself that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I'm just very glad and grateful that music is my career. My goals may have changed, but the endgame hasn't.
How was the scene back then from what you came from and how has it changed?
If you're talking about venues for underground dance music, oddly enough I'd say there was more options back then. There was of course the grand dame, Zouk, Liquid Room, Nox, Insomnia, Centro, Home Club. This was all in the first few years of my career. Right now I can only think of Home Club and Blu Jaz. And of course Zouk's still around, but it has evolved dramatically. Changes in the clubbing environment, market pressures, steeper competition all contributed to the shift in our clubbing landscape. There are so many more clubs now. More so than when I began, but ironically there's still not much diversity. This current trend of "luxe" clubs with all your much touted "bottle service" or "exclusivity" just rubs me the wrong way. In the past people opened clubs with music as the priority. At least those that featured more underground genres of dance music. You hired the right team of DJs to style the sound of your club.
These days if you still want to open a club with music as the priority, you need to balance that very consciously with strong business muscle. So things in a way, I feel, are much more calculated now. Some people may say it could be the sign of business owners being more experienced and maturing, but I just can't help but feel that the gung ho spirit of the past isn't really there anymore. I'm not saying it was better then. No one wants to get burned in business. It's just very different now, and I think the immense cost of starting up a club today is a very real factor in club owners not wanting to take too much risks.
Type of people you hate or don't get?
I generally stay away from people who take themselves too seriously. Shallow and vain people don't really do well in my books too.
If you could live anywhere where would you go?
I've never really dreamt of living anywhere else, to be honest. Wherever you live, you're going to have to deal with a different set of problems. That being said I think Brazil, Cuba, Spain, Germany, Jamaica, would all be nice. For awhile.
How do you approach your music making and playing?
I'm not trained in music, so the computer is very central when I practice, or produce. It is a great aid in helping my figure out stuff I never really learnt, like chords, progressions, etc. There's no hard and fast rule when I'm creating something. A chord could inspire me, or a sound, a bassline, a drum pattern, a sample, a snippet from a movie. Anything, really. I just find a way to process it in my head and poop something out at the other end.
How would you rate yourself as a DJ, Musician and Producer?
There are many areas where I know I can still improve as all three. I'll leave it to the person listening to me to rate me, but I know where I stand.
Describe your relationship with your other Cosa Nostra half, Dean?
We're very different people, but somehow when we come together to make music, whether live or in the studio, it somehow works. And we've outlasted so many bands and outfits here in Singapore, so I think that speaks for itself.
Best thing about your job? And the worst?
I'm not stuck at a desk facing the same people everyday. I get to see a lot of things people of my social/financial status don't get to see, so I'm grateful for that opportunity to observe others, and that usually just affirms certain principles in my life so I know I'm on the right track. The worst part of the job is when my phone doesn't ring. Many would feel the opposite of what I'm saying now, but it's true. If I don't get calls, it means I'm not getting a gig. And that's not good for the pocket.
Any music peeps you respect and admire? Why?
Miles Davis still always tops my list. He was always at the forefront of any major development in Jazz music. He wasn't one of those cats that would gain great success at something, then just stay there doing that same something everyone loved him for, for the rest of his life, like some circus monkey. He had an uncanny knack for assembling the right sidemen for the band. He never compromised, never took bullshit from anyone. And he was successful both artistically and commercially.
Most precious record owned?
My record collection is lame compared to a lot of other DJs and/or producers. But the most precious music is the one that has stayed in your head for years and years.
What can we expect from you for the Midnight Shift label showcase?
My live sets have always been in the hip hop or house domains. I know I'm gonna have to ramp it up for Midnight Shift, so I'm currently writing stuff on the more techy side of things, and I can guarantee you I'm not going to be idling around staring at what knobs to turn. I'll also be doing live versions of our contributions to the future Midnight Shift releases.
Favourite piece of gear?
It still has to be my Maschine. It's the heart of my studio and live performances, and I've been using it for about 3 years now, so I know my way around it pretty well. It's very important to know your gear when you perform because there's a hundred and one things you can do with it, but you need to actually be doing what it is capable of doing, and not fighting with the machine scrolling down menus, looking for that parameter to tweak but not knowing where it's located.
Next gear you've been eyeing?
I've actually acquired that next piece of gear already, which is the Moog Minitaur. I wanted a bass synth to pair with my live rig because my laptop can't handle all those plug ins, and you can't ever argue with a Moog Bass anyway. It's been everywhere from pop to jazz to rock to hip hop to soul to funk to boogie to house to techno and beyond!
Dream stage set up?
I'm really looking for that one other person that gets technology and music the way I do, then I can start doing deeper performances. Until that day comes I'll just have to deal with my own 2 hands and 1 head I guess. That's on the live PA side of things. Of course, if I could integrate that into an actual band that'd be a dream. Except we'll have nowhere to perform in Singapore.
Top 10 charts?
I don't have the habit of charting things, so I'll just say that I'm really digging what Robert Glasper and Casey Benjamin are doing on the Jazz side of things, KiNK and Jeremy Ellis are my gold standard for live performances, the Wolf Music label for that House sound I'm really loving right now, Dam-Funk for that unswerving devotion to the FUNK. There are a lot of others that are good, I just feel these guys need special mention.
What is a day in the life of Kaye like?
Researching for new music, going for rehearsals, trying out new ways for my machines to talk to one another, listening to stuff for sampling, trawling forums for more information, attend the daily classes at the University of YouTube and Google, making beats, maybe squeeze in a movie at the end if I can.
There's a new band project in the pipeline which is still in its infancy, but it has to do with Soul, Hip Hop, and myself singing on the vocoder. Fun times!