EXCURSIONS 014: DENNIS KANE
January 1, 2021
Words: Bad Lieutenant
On this New Year’s Day, we are excited to present a mix from an artist we deeply respect and admire, producer, writer, visual artist, and one of NYC’s seminal DJ’s: Dennis Kane. For nearly three decades, Mr.Kane has produced and played dance music with a singular intensity, his aesthetic is complex, subversive and thoroughly engaging.
Kane’s output is deeply purposeful, and suggest new vectors to reframe how one looks at the world. His sets are known for bringing listeners on a journey in search of the transcendent. He plays records with joyful passion and sharp discernment.
Dennis has run the Disques Sinthomme & Ghost Town imprints and now has the LESDK label. This past year Kane has done remixes for Phil Mison, Ilija Rudman, and Rheinzand, he has remixes for Ilya Santana and Richard Sen forthcoming, as well as a new release on LESDK. In addition to this mix for us, Dennis has done some stellar mixes this year for Hamon radio Japan, Ibiza Global radio, and his pals at Herb Essentials. He collaborates with his pal Darshan Jesrani as SIREN - check their releases on the Compost label, one critic described their work as “macho acid disco sleaze”, the two also have done numerous remixes and edits and they have also DJ’ed many nights over the years, including residencies at Cielo and Output as well as their Strobe Lodge loft parties.
He has written excellent pieces on life during quarantine and the NYC protests for the respected blog Ban Ban Ton Ton as well as an in depth profile/interview of his friend Richard Sen. He’s produced and exhibited a broad range of visual artwork, and is currently working on a new suite of drawings to be tiled in a large installation. He’s busy! When not on the 24/7 art hustle he can be found biking at night around the empty city, or maintaining his duties as his son Roan Mingus’ personal chef.
We’re excited to share what Dennis has in store for you on this New Year’s day. Lets exorcise the toxic spirits of 2020 and get down in the spirit of Love.
Dennis, Happy New Year and thank you for joining our series. We’re excited to share your mix. How has life as an artist been during Covid?
I've been ok, it’s just my son and I, I get him ready for the commute from his bed to his laptop, handle breakfast, and get my day going. I try to work, writing, music, art etc… I go for a run, skate and or a bike ride, I meditate in the morning and ride at night - it helps keep my head clear, and I try not to lose my mind reading about the horrific daily events.
I check in with my pals - Skype, Zoom etc… I think artists are made to handle isolation. I really miss playing records for people, making a night happen, hopefully this coming year we see some change in circumstance.
What do you love most about dance music and how do you convey that to the listener/ dancer?
I like all aspects of black music, its soulfulness and joy, its sense of sorrow and belief in transformation, my job as a DJ is to share my own engagement with the music and attendant feelings and to build something for them to get down with, a runway and flight pattern for their trip.
Your intellectual interests are wide ranging, I know you have a background in philosophy/theory and have a practice as a visual artist, writer etc.... How does the range of your pursuits impact your DJing?
When I was a kid, I had a mini turntable and some decent 45’s, I always had books and was always drawing, not much has changed. (laughter)
Everything you do informs who you are, and what attracts you. You try to stay open and sensitive - antenna on! - which given the state of the world isn’t always easy, but art in all its forms provides pathways. The music I play has to have a connection to how I live and feel - and my history, it has to be intimate. Someone asked me the other day what they should do, as they were interested in becoming a DJ - I told them to spend a lot of time listening to music that moves them - any kind of music, any form, but you have to sit with it and really build a relationship, you can’t just bite some playlist and… well wait I guess you can, but I think its a waste to do so, end of the day it has to have real meaning and the connection has to be authentic.
Obvious statement of the year (so far): Underground dance music has changed dramatically over the years, as has NYC. This pandemic, however, has put the world on pause and now we’re in 2021. If you had one hope for change to the dance music scene after 2020, what would it be?
Smaller more intimate parties, parties when the crowd feels an investment in the night, some bad Ibiza/RA sanctioned tech house nonsense is banal, as is the “superstar” DJ construct - it’s reached a level of self parody - I swear some of those boiler room sets seem like SNL skits. A good DJ can make any room seem interesting, good DJ’s can do a lot if left alone and given some time and a decent system. Promoters, publicists, club owners, booking agents, there is a whole horde of people connected to dance music who often have fairly compromised motivations and seemingly know little about how great black music is. Also it seems everyone is sort of a DJ now - model/dj, skater/dj, actor/dj (laughs). That’s capitalism though, the key is to build something specific and share it with people, I would bet Ron Hardy didn’t have a publicist, he was just a great talent and supremely passionate. Remembering the intimate connection with the transformative possibilities of the music is where it's at, and sharing it as elegantly and powerfully as you can.
What do you want to say about this mix?
Nothing (laughs) the mix speaks for itself, put it on and enjoy. Dance at home its good for your soul.
What’s next for Dennis Kane in 2021?
Just keep working on music and art, hopefully sometime this year play records out again and see the beauty of people dancing - the view of people from the DJ booth is sooo great. I love seeing people have a good time. There are new releases and remixes and writing and art and blah blah blah, but in the end I’m just trying to get more precise and expansive in my work, more generous with my ideas and perhaps with myself. Life is so short and it all seems especially delicate, we should take care and bring something to the party and savor every second.