Over the past 20 years, Kai Alce has been a pioneering influence on Atlanta’s house music scene, from hosting a long list of legends at his renowned club night ‘DEEP’ to working alongside the ATL community helping to connect the city to music culture with events like ‘House In The Park’. Kai’s own label, NDATL, “New York-Detroit-Atlanta” chronologically portrays his life journey up until now, which has subsequently moulded a distinctive sound which transcends his catalogue of releases.
With Kai due to play Dimensions festival later this summer we will no doubt be looking out for as his selections which regularly display his undeniable eclectic love for the music scene. We were lucky enough to catch up with Kai to get to know some of his experiences growing up immersed in music culture, reflecting on some memories from his legendary club night DEEP, the details on his latest project recently out on Defected Records and what’s in store for the remainder of the year.
Hi Kai, we’ve been following your journey for a while now; it’s a pleasure to finally catch up with you. It’s been exciting hearing new material under NDATL and most recently the ‘What Am I Here For?’ remixes on Defected. Can you talk us thought how the The DangerFeel Newbies project came about and your inspiration behind the various mixes?
Well my friend and supporter & radio personality Jamal Ahmad is part of the DF Newbies and hereached out to me to remix a song from their then upcoming LP “Harriet” he mentioned that I do remix on a song called shine but after briefly overviewing the project I immediately gravitated towards “What Am I Here For?” called my keyboard friends Chris Irvin and DelvynW and the rest was u hear! A little sax from Quinn Mason and I immediately knew that it would be big! Although not Defected BIG! That was a surprise!
Jazz and soul are evidently a great influence on your music and DJ selections. Is it more stimulating to remix a piece of music, which is rooted in those styles?
It definitely makes the process a lot easier, there’s usually more to grab from.
Going back to your childhood what was it like at Detroit’s Music Institute when you were younger? It seems like music has always been you the chosen path from an early age?
But in still had a lot to do with my sound and upbringing. There I was immersed in music coming from mentors Chez damier, Derrick May & Alton Miller to name a few.
I was hearing the new music of the time and hear some new tunes that were being created by those around me that would soon become classics!
How’s your relationship with Chez Damier. Do you still keep in close contact?
Yes I spoke to him today!
Although Atlanta has hosted and accommodated some big names, it isn’t necessarily championed for its house music compared to the likes of Chicago and Detroit. Did you feel a sense of responsibility to expose to Atlanta to what you were heard in Detroit and New York when you first moved?
Well there were two major DJ’s in the city at the time when I arrived in Atlanta, and they both moved away in the same year early on & yes I felt a need to push myself & the sound out there as there was no one else here really championing the sound. So as I made a following for myself I then started to call on friends like Chez Damier, Brett Dancer, Theo Parrish, Moodymann etc to come and play not the scene has totally flourished
Your legendary club night DEEP ran for the best part of 10 years. Do you have any standout moments and memories?
I can remember inviting Kerri Chandler to pay this is when serato/final scratch was just coming out and he was the first person who came in playing on a computer, anyway he came in early to setup, while he was testing it out they turned down the lights the doors open and he was still setting up but he ended up playing the whole night, us residents myself and Cullen Cole decided to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Which in the nine-year run of DEEP he was the only one to play the whole night!
Larry Heard has just announced he will be playing his first live performance in 20 years alongside yourself and many others at this year’s Dimensions Festival. Would you say there’s an new-found appreciation for classic house coming back around with a younger audience?
Oh definitely I just hope that they also keep the appreciation for those who created it as well, as some are still quite relevant like Mr Heard!
..and finally, what can we expect from you release-wise this year? Anything else exciting lined up?
Well we are putting the final touches on a Music Institute Compilation, I have the annual NDATL Special Edition coming out featuring unreleased track from two of the resident DJ’s Chez Damier, Alton Miller. Releases from DJ Aakmael, an LP from a vocalist Kayenne.