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Month: April 2021

AG Presents: Garage – Kenny99

AG Presents: Garage – Kenny99

A Genre’s DNA Drives Inner & Global Discovery: KENNY99 Communicates the Interconnected Creativity & International Community Cultivated by Garage

By Jimmy O’Hara

Spending much of his youth in Pocomoke City by the beaches of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Kenny Fisher aka KENNY99 is no stranger to plentiful melting pots of music.

People in Kenny’s community jammed out to pop, rock, hip hop, R&B and country while swinging in the spring and summer sun. Such proximity to this range of sounds shaped his knack for music knowledge. At age 15, he was disc-jockeying at parties and events. By 1990, Kenny solidified his love for electronic music, drawing inspiration from the diverse genres played in his hometown, as well as film, videogames and MTV.

Despite taking a decade away from DJ-ing to drum in rock bands, Kenny found an indescribable joy in returning to the electronic space. Garage was the force that drove him back home.

“I draw influence from a myriad of genres and that credit will always fall on the shoulders of my close, eclectic and extended garage music family,” says KENNY99.

He cites his admiration for an abundance of artists who have cultivated and carried the genre forward in the ‘90s, ‘00s and beyond: SPOOKY, N-Type, Flava D, KOZEE, Jett Chandon, Brother Pinch, M.C. Twisty, DJ Omnibud, Tarik Evolve, James Nasty, Sean Smallwood, Histo, Ducky Dynamo, MJ Cole, CHAMPION, Roska, Bok-Bok, GHSTGHSTGHST, Mall Grab, S.K. Vibemaker, and Mind of a Dragon.

“From 1981 onward, many of these musicians have provided me and the broader electronic community with access and exposure to various levels of the music and entertainment industry, particularly around garage,” says KENNY99. “These brilliant artists spark my love, creativity and continued curiosity for garage music.”

A noncomforming genre by design, garage interconnects multiple sounds across culture, time and place. Its playful, rhythmic eccentricity sends pulsing, resonating electricity down the spines of all who give garage the chance it deserves. KENNY99 attests to the unique gravity of garage music’s footprint both globally and in his own life.

“Garage is captivating. It matters because of its structure, pace and vibration. There is space in garage music’s DNA for a wealth of discovery,” explains KENNY99. “The rhythmic breaks and hitches walk like a human being, reviving vocals that speak like a Soul and identify with you in the moment. It is luxuriously tribal, African, and inclusive.”

A majority of garage’s ‘80s and early ‘90s pioneers are Black. These legends fused their earlier genres of R&B, house and disco to arrive at funky, soulful garage formulas fitting for expressive community-building and freeform dance movement.

“Throughout its iconic evolution, garage has remained an apex of convergence between and across genres. It is rooted in a sense of nonconformity and resistance to social norms,” says KENNY99. “Garage’s intimate soundscapes provide, for many, both intangible and tangible sources of income. It employs the unemployed.”

While KENNY99 built a professional career in music production, garage was pivotal to the growth of his project. The genre has also served as a driving force in his personal and family life, functioning like a magical glue that helps him find meaning in his various life roles.

“Garage culture has offered KENNY99 a space to exist freely and with unbridled expression,” he says. “In the last 10 years, garage music has become a vehicle for me to better fulfill my duties as a human being, Father, Brother, Nephew, Uncle, Son and Artist.”

As the sixth and final producer featured in American Grime (AG)’s podcast series AG Presents: Garage, KENNY99 aims to communicate the depth and purpose of garage music. He encourages listeners to dig for deeper meanings within the genre’s multilayered landscape.

“This podcast series is an achievement of epic proportions,” says KENNY99. “AG Presents: Garage is the proper platform because its proprietors are consistently uniting folks from all walks of life through a multiculturally defining genre of electronic music.”

He hopes the series will inspire behavioral change in people seeking the betterment and liberation of self, community, and society at large.

“I want folks to feel the goosebumps. Our collective aim through this audio series is for everyone, including us — AG and Background Noise — to experience a radical shift from negative to positive energy,” says KENNY99. “If one person decides to change their life or behavior for the better, then we’ve done our job.”

The guest-mix marks the sixth and final installment in American Grime’s AG Presents: Garage podcast mini-series. However, the weekly Friday fun does not stop here.

On April 30, AG will launch a new six-week podcast series dedicated to the delightful genre we know and love: Dubstep.

Be sure to travel back to our Background Noise newsroom for commentary and more. Throughout this forthcoming six-week journey, our editorial team will cover each installment, exploring the intimate and layered sounds of dubstep music right along with you.

It’s Spring 2021 and American Grime is officially introducing our newest additions to the label’s merchandise line! We’ve added 2 new hoodie styles, one in black with the AG logo in yellow embroidered over the chest. The other, a grey hoodie with the AG logo in black, embroidered over the chest. We’ve also added Covid friendly facemasks and gaiters, both available in the inversed color schemes of black on white and white on black.   

This is the drop you’ve all been waiting for! Get it now before they sell out #AmericanGrime

AG Presents: Garage – Kozee

AG Presents: Garage – Kozee

Kozee Honors the Role of Black & LGBTQ+ Garage Pioneers through Reflective Guest-Mix

By Jimmy O’Hara

It’s summer 1978. You’re venturing through New York City with friends on a vibrant night filled with LGBTQ+ music festivities. Scuffling between secret queer-friendly safe spaces, your posse passes 84 King Street, intrigued by an electronic event emitting funk-infused vocals paired with soulful R&B sounds. The name of this legendary venue that birthed the name of an iconic genre? Paradise Garage. (And it was, literally, a garage).

“I want people to know and appreciate that garage music was cultivated within LGBTQ+ communities,” says Marina Francesca aka Kozee, the producer featured in this week’s American Grime (AG) Presents: Garage guest-mix. Her episode marks the fifth of the six installments in AG’s six-week podcast series amplifying the historical significance and ongoing evolution of garage.

As early as the late ‘70s and well into the ‘80s, U.S.- and European-based artists laid the groundwork for the likes of early ‘90s UK garage. Many of these pioneers were Black and/or LGBTQ+, drawing from the diverse array of musical influences and lived experiences that shape Black and Queer cultures. Through her garage mix this week, Kozee aims to honor the genre’s bold and daring ancestors, many of whom faced multiple forms of marginalization.

Kozee’s mix is timely amidst the U.S.’s recent – and long overdue – awakening to the stark realities of systemic racism and queerphobia embedded in Western society and beyond. Her 30-minute journey emerges as a meditation on what it means to credit and celebrate Black and LGBTQ+ cultures for creating and sustaining electronic music scenes.

“I’m inspired by artists like EL-B, Para, Duncan Powell, Champion, Conducta, Exit 99, Smokey Bubblin B, Rip Groove, Karl Tuff Enuff, and Todd Edwards,” shares Kozee, a stateside producer & disc jockey actively involved with event promotion. “These dons represent newer and older garage eras. Their craft is truly amazing.”

In Kozee’s episode and throughout AG’s mini-series, you’ll explore six unique guest-mixes carefully curated by an outstanding ensemble of modern-day garage artists.

“Garage matters because it’s a form of electronic music specifically designed to represent happiness and joy,” says Kozee, who steadfastly challenges the status quos of a male-dominated music industry. “I hope my mix will uplift someone’s spirit.”

Stay tuned for the second guest-mix in American Grime’s podcast scheduled for release Friday, March 26 featuring Kenny99.

Each week, be sure to travel back to our Background Noise newsroom for commentary and more. Throughout this six-week journey, our editorial team will cover each installment, exploring the complex and nostalgic sounds of garage music right along with you.

AG Presents: Garage – Jett Chandon

AG Presents: Garage – Jett Chandon

Jett Delivers Empowering Garage Mix, Merging Mental Health Hurdles with Women’s Liberation in Music

By Jimmy O’Hara & Sarah Styles

From childhood to adolescence, Tara Algios aka Jett studied music theory and multiple mediums, cultivating a lifelong passion for mixing and sound design. By early adulthood, however, mental health challenges interrupted Jett’s commitment to music. Stuck in an unhealthy undergraduate environment, she gradually paused her passion for production and live performance.

A new city paired with a vibrant underground community helped rejuvenate Jett’s innate knack for creativity and sound. It wasn’t until this major life transition that Jett truly uncovered garage music, the genre she credits with saving her life.

“While I was living in New York, I eventually found myself lost without creating or performing. I was in such a place of darkness,” recalls Jett, native to the Big Apple.

“So in 2011, I packed my bags and moved to Washington, D.C., where I discovered the city’s devoted underground scene. This transition brought me back to life and inspired me to perform again.”

Returning to performance encouraged Jett to dig deeper beyond the evolving dubstep sounds popularized at the turn of the decade. During the early 2010s, alongside brostep and other descendents of UKG, an appreciation for future garage emerged in many circles. Jett began exploring this modern version of the legendary 90s genre, captivated by its playful sound and pivotal lineage.

“Garage is an incredibly fascinating sound on its own, pulling from nearly all areas within the music realm. I came across iconic tracks by artists who originated the genre. I was hooked,” says Jett, whose American Grime (AG)Presents: Garage guest-mix marks episode #4 in the collective’s ongoing podcast mini-series.

“My deep connection with garage music encouraged me to share it with everyone I possibly could. It’s an unexplainable love. I owe my life and my career to garage music. Without it, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”

Championing the garage genre opened career opportunities for Jett that may otherwise have been inaccessible. Overt and covert forms of sexism and gender bias are prevalent in and beyond the electronic music industry. Introducing new audiences to the unique sounds of garage brought Jett equally unique chances to challenge gendered status quos.

“Garage opened up so many doors for me and others, especially since so few people were playing it,” says Jett, renowned for hosting D.C. functions focused on reviving garage music and centering female artists.

Many women were central to pioneering garage music and continue to elevate the sound in modern eras. Ms. Dynamite, Sweet Female Attitude, Katy B, Colour Girl, Kele Le Roc and AlunaGeorge reflect a few of many female leaders at the forefront of garage’s rich legacy.

Jett’s AG: Presents guest-mix this week honors the bold women who helped bring garage into the fold. Jett also draws artistic influence from the eclectic sounds of Burial, whose groundbreaking album Untrue (2007 )still helps her manage depression today.
Personal healing and community-building have always been at the core of Jett’s craft. DJ-ing for nearly a decade, her mixes have naturally evolved to blend a broader variety of styles.

However, remaining true to her garage roots keeps her heart grounded and her audiences grooving.
“The local D.C. community has always been a motivation for me to push forward,” says Jett, having worked with Forecast and Spreadlove Project, among other organizations. She’s also gained extensive experience as a resident DJ for the UKG Social in Baltimore.

Jett hopes that AG Presents: Garage will pique broader interest in the genre, especially from current bass music fans.
“The deeper purpose of American Grime’s podcast series is to connect people from all over who share the same passion for music, especially during these unprecedented times when we need it the most,” explains Jett. “Garage is the celebration of life and I’ve always linked it to joy and happiness. This podcast highlights how this genre is exactly what we need to heal together.”

Audio Analysis

The electronic music community has a multitude of strengths. However, one drawback that often arises is our collective memory tends to erase the genesis of genres and the pioneers who led (and are leading) the way. Black and Brown communities, women, and LGBTQ+ people have always been central to creating and contributing to novel sounds and event spaces. Despite this truth, disparities in representation, power, and recognition exist across music scenes, particularly for women at every level.

Jett’s mix effortlessly hints at these industry inequities, especially through a gender lens.
Given the global reach of garage music, it’s important to honor the impact of women who
contributed to its origins, growth and success. While it’s true UK garage wasn’t solely about women vocalists, many listeners are drawn to feminine voices in garage and, more broadly, electronic music.

Jett’s clever inclusion of such voices throughout her mix celebrates women
everywhere. Her soulful variety of samples are sure to have you turning the volume all the way up.

Soothing and inviting yet bold and unapologetic feminine voices sing over a 2-step beat
throughout Jett’s 30-minute mosaic. Her mix portrays a peculiar innocence, intrigued by and invested in love– a liberating kind of soul music with unforgettable flair. Jett features old-school gems that remain in rotation today, accompanied by an undeniable R&B presence, one of garage’s ancestors.

Additionally, she includes a rapid-fire style of MCing derived from dancehall. More often than not, women’s voices enrich Jett’s half-hour mix. She serves up some syrupy vocal overlays, filling your heart with nutritious garage goodness while encouraging women to reclaim space and enjoy a seat at the table.

Next Up

Stay tuned for the fifth guest-mix in American Grime’s podcast scheduled for release Friday, April 9, featuring Kozee.

Each week, be sure to travel back to our Background Noise newsroom for commentary and more. Throughout this six-week journey, our editorial team will cover each installment, exploring the complex and nostalgic sounds of garage music right along with you.

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