Kon releases new compilation Kon and the Gang (BBE)
by Will Sumsuch
Boston native Kon seems to cast his line into the murkiest of musical waters, emerging with a great catch every time. Gaining notoriety as one half of Kon & Amir, Kon’s DJ sets, edits and productions have won him a legion of loyal fans across the globe; his debut album On My Way and new compilation Kon & the Gang have cemented his reputation. Both records display the kind of languid, disco infused soul that we’ve come to expect, but his legendary status as a vinyl digger and vast catalogue of re-edits tell a more eclectic tale. His Bandcamp page sees unlikely bedfellows Fleetwood Mac and Kanye West both subject of Kon edits, re-imagined in ways most of us would never conceive. We posed a few questions to find out a little more about the edit maestro.
Your choice of raw material is eclectic to say the least. What is it about certain songs that motivate you to edit them?
With edits, for the most part I try to just make them more playable for me personally while also keeping a dance floor in mind. I think some of the things I have done are considered full-on remixes (so I have been told by Danny Krivit himself) and some are songs that didn’t actually need to be reworked… I felt as if I could do something not just different but also enhance the songs; exposing elements that were otherwise buried or not used at all.
Are there any records that are “sacred” to you? Ones you love, but wouldn’t touch?
Great question. I think my remix/reworks of Donna Summer “Bad Girls,” T-Connection “Do What You Wanna Do,” Loose Joints “Is it All Over My Face,” First Choice “Love Thang,” Michael Jackson “Get On the Floor,” Sylvester “Over and Over” and “Mighty Real” all fall under that sacred category.
When playing God with classic songs that are already perfect so to speak, I do the best I can and that is all I can do. It is a challenge and an honor to remix a record Larry Levan did. I’ve studied the greats like Larry, Walter Gibbons, Tom Moulton, Francois K, John Morales. The remix pioneers that have paved the way for guys like myself. Listening to the sessions and hearing exactly what Larry heard and how much work he did with his arrangement is quite a class… (But) class is always in session (s)!
At times while I was doing them, I would think about what I was actually doing and what these records mean not just to myself but, for all of us. That will eat you up and rattle you a bit, so I block that out and simply try to view the song as just a song without the stigma attached. Overall, my approach is ‘less is more’ and I prefer to keep true to the original in the sense of song flow.
Tell us about the edit of “Tusk” Are you a Fleetwood Mac fan?
I absolutely love Fleetwood Mac. Whether it’s Christie McVie singing or Stevie Nicks, that group was a part of my childhood soundtrack, a time when pop music was filled with substance.
You mentioned you used to listen to “Tusk” in your father’s Buick. Have you been thinking of editing it ever since then?
Yes, I would ride around in the backseat of my Pops’ midnight-blue ’79 Buick Regal, that had a Blaupunkt deck, Alpine EQ that he custom-built a sliding rack for, drilled underneath the dash next to the console, all of which was run through Jensen coaxial speakers… I would be in the back with all of that sound engulfed in a Cheech & Chong cloud of marijuana smoke; he was getting that good Maui Waui shipped from Hawaii back then! Some truly incredible memories. Thanks, Dad!
Do you have any “guilty pleasures” music-wise?
New stuff…I like Drake. I think mainstream music today lacks honesty and vulnerability; rap artists these days seem to only have one emotion and love is not it, I can’t say that’s the case for Drake.
Older stuff like Ace of Base “All That She Wants.” Journey “Don’t Stop Believing,” Bon Jovi, Gary Glitter, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Elton John, Phil Collins, lots of ’80s, Tommy Tutone, Wall of Voodoo… pop music was great then!
I try not to allow popularity of a song taint or distort my view. A song can only go as fast and as far as the vehicle that delivers it and they may end up doing a bad job of a song, but it doesn’t mean that the song in question isn’t a good one, some covers prove that this works on both sides, ruining a great song or improving a song that was great but the audience never knew it because the artist wasn’t that good. I always thought I would have made a great A&R for this reason.
Both Kanye West and Fleetwood Mac are very divisive; people either love ’em or hate ’em. What has the response been like to your edits?
Whoever doesn’t love Fleetwood Mac needs to get it together! Kanye, I can see people not liking, but I separate the man (or woman) from the music. If I didn’t do this, I may have run out of music to listen to.
I’ve gotten some great feedback on them and I love both songs in the original format as well. The Kanye track I tried to really flip into more of a techno hip-hop gospel vibe. It’s a odd track, as the hook is uplifting and the verse section is super dark.
How often do you start an edit and then discard it? Do you normally have the tweaks you want to make in mind before you begin?
I discard edits all the time. I have so many unfinished things that I feel just aren’t good enough and I forget about them. I usually have the tweaks already worked out a bit, like a loose script. I’m working on something right now that has to be done so right otherwise it’s a total waste… and I’m stuck. So I’ll leave it alone and hope it hits me one day. That’s happened in the past as well. Months go by and I just get it, it clicks.
If you could be let loose on the multitrack tapes to remix just one classic record, what would it be?
That is tough, man…there are so many I would want. Heatwave, GQ, Dr. Buzzard & the Original Savannah Band…. this is like asking what is my favorite song.
That said, I will go with the Doobie Brothers “What a Fool Believes.”
Outside of “work,” tell us about a few of your favorite albums / artists for home listening.
I love sweet soul lowrider jams, chill jazzy cuts, down-tempo library music—actually, I’ve been revisiting a lot of that stuff that I was buying in the ’90s.
Lately, I’ve been digging this LP Westerbur & Rowe. It came out a few years ago as a private press thing. It’s just two guys that I think are dads doing dad music in the garage. But, damn, it’s good. Electric piano, organ, synth, and drums… Nerds will give it bonus points, as it’s all analog.
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