This week we got to interview a legendary DJ… AK1200 one of the original Drum and Bass DJs in America. In the interview he gives his insights into where the EDM scene is going in America as well where Drum and Bass is heading.
Who is Ak1200?
The longest running D&B DJ in the USA. Member of the infamous Planet of the Drums crew. Founder of Big Riddim Recordings. Dave, AK1200, has been a driving force within Drum and Bass culture in America since its inception. From his legendary mix CD’s to his extensive list of high profile remixes and original tunes, he has maintained a presence within the scene for more than 20 years. For lack of a better term, AK is a “classically” trained DJ, mixing live for each crowd. Every set is unique and completely dependent on what gets the best reaction from the floor that night.
Where did you come up with the name AK1200? What does it mean?
The name was given to me by DJ Icey. Back in the early 90’s the music I was playing started to get faster than the normal stuff everyone else was playing, and the style called for quick mixing and cutting, lots of fader tricks etc. one day he just said “you are like an AK47 on the 1200’s. He started booking me under that name for his infamous Edge raves, and the name just stuck.
What got you into drum and bass?
I owned a record store in 1990 or 91, and a small portion of the records coming in, were different, they were faster, and used hip hop breakbeats with samples and it was what would soon become known as hardcore breakbeat or jungle techno. I fell in love with that sound and never looked back. I followed it through every cycle and every phase, and it became known as drum and bass. so, nothing really got me into drum and bass, because I was already there when it happened.
Where do you see drum and bass going in the next couple of years?
back to basics. I think for the last 3 or 4 years, most of the drum and bass producers who haven’t jumped ship, have struggled through these hard times, and many have found some sort of compromise by making tunes that may appeal to this new generation of Bass Music lover. The whole spawn of Drumstep was an attempt to change our music to fit the likes of fans of dub step and other relatively new genres. There were also many producers out there who tried to sugar coat the drum and bass sound, and make it appealing to the fans of the new “complextro” scene, by making super cheesy drum and bass. I think now where most everyone is at, is they have finally realized, “FUCK everyone else and their stupid sound”, let’s make drum and bass the old fashioned way, and lets go back to being the genre that everyone envied for so many years. “let’s just go back and make the music we fell in love with once upon a time, and if these kids don’t like it, they can go fuck themselves”. Finally we are getting some super good pure drum and bass music coming in every day, and just like we thought, everyone is jumping back on the bandwagon and trying to make music that sounds like drum and bass again. we are back to where we belong, and it will keep getting better.
When is the next time you are performing with the planet of the drums? Where?
I have no idea, we are taking offers for now, and if something comes along that feels right, we accept the offer and will do the one off show, but I doubt we will ever do a “full on” tour again. I mean, I don’t know, I guess it all depends on the timing and the money and the demand. If enough people demand it, we would do it, but I think for now, we are all happy to focus on our own careers.
How long have you been DJing? What made you decide to start?
I began DJing in 1989, I walked in to a club and heard a DJ work a crowd for the first time and really paid attention to what was happening, and I knew it was what I was going to do.
What equipment do you use?
As a DJ, I keep it as simple as possible, I prefer Pioneer. I like CDJ1000’s or better, and a mixer. as long as I have eq for each channel, I am fine.
What was the best event you have performed at? Why?
I could not possibly answer that question. After so many years of playing, i have had many highs and many lows. I try to make every event the best one I play, because my crowd deserves the best of me, and every show I do is spontaneous and crafted specifically for that crowd right then at that time. I do not pre plan, and I have no set list. I play what the crowd makes think they need to hear. each time every time. events come and go, but fans stay forever. I can’t tell you the best event. I can tell you I have the best fans though.
What other djs do you look up to and why?
I don’t. I respect many colleagues, but I follow my own path, I am happy for everyone who has made it, and sad to see those who couldn’t. I will always have love for Icey and for Kimball Collins, as they are the people who most influenced me as I came up. I respect DSL and Dara, because they are my crew. anyone else, they are just people doing what the rest of us do, and I give them equal respect. I guess if there was one person I would go out of my way to see at any given time, it would be Carl Cox. He is the number 1 DJ in my book, always has been, always will be. well rounded, great guy. he is the Don of all DJ’s.
What do you think about the current state of the EDM scene in the US?
I think it is great, I am hoping people try to dig deeper as soon as possible or else the bubble will burst. It is time for fans of EDM to expect more from their favorite DJ or producer, don’t buy in to the gimmicks and the magic act that is today’s artists. Find a way to learn about substance and go listen to an old school DJ play a 2 hour set. learn what the “journey” is, and then go and see how one dimensional it is moshing to a 45 minute set of the same exact thing. there is so much more to the culture than what is being fed to people now. we did manage to last over 20 years before this came along, people should demand more from their peers.
What advice would you give up and coming djs to further their career?
Do what you feel, not what you hear. make tunes, learn history, find the common bond from 1990, to 1995, to 2000, to 2005, to 2010, and make the next step for 2015. become the future, don’t wait for it
Anything you want to promote?
I just want to promote Drum and Bass. go learn about it, and find the DJ or the artists that appeals to you, and learn about them. I promise you will be forever a fan, just like me. Also, I would like to send a special shout out to Gridlok. He is the single most valuable asset to the DnB community in the USA, and too many people don’t even know.