Veteran DJ Dave Minner aka AK1200 has been involved in the electronic music scene, since before many of you were even born. He played a major role in bringing jungle to the states, and still continues to contribute to the preservation of bass music, more specifically drum and bass. We had the pleasure of sitting down with the artists after his sold out show at the popular venue Plush. AK1200 played to a crowd of mostly old school DnB heads, who were there to do something they don’t get to do very often in this city: dance the night away to a drum and bass headliner.
MM: You played a two hour set.
MM: Is that expected, is that normal or you just said fuck it, I’m gonna keep on going?
AK: I just said fuck it and kept on going. It was supposed to be 12:30 to 2:00, and I just played until they told me to stop. (which was around 2:35am)
MM: Yeah you did two hours, how was the set tonight, how did you feel, what do you think about it?
AK: I dunno man, I’m trying this new thing where I’m just literally, every time I start a tune I put the fader up so you guys hear what I hear and I’m just winging it. So if you can hear me at least getting it on, keeping it on, loosing it, getting it back on, whatever so its more of a, I dunno I kind of feel like it adds to the intimacy, you know what I mean. We’re just all here, banging drum and bass.
MM: So you keep it in the middle, the fader…
AK: Yeah yeah. I keep everything up. And I hit start, and I make it on beat. I’m not gonna get it on beat silently without anybody knowing and then put it on so everybody thinks I’m a fucking magician. You know what I mean? This is mixing, this is what you do.
MM: Its raw.
AK: Put it on and it doesn’t start on beat, so you make it on beat. But its like a good time, because its drum and bass. Drum and bass is about having a good time right now. Its not about bro-ing out and having your face melted. Its about going in, having a great time and just vibing out to proper beats, baselines and just thats whats up, there really isn’t any more to say about everything than that. (laughs)
MM: Yeah, like to tonight it felt like the most packed I’ve seen for a drum and bass show in a long time, which will say something about the culture and the fact that you brought in all these old school heads also.
AK: Yeah there’s people that would come up and they’re like, “I haven’t seen you for ten years” and I’m all like, well where have you been because I’m fucking busting my ass every week, I really am, like harder than ever. Its easier to get…this is my famous quote right now you’re about to get it, exclusive…”Its easy to get hot, but its hard to stay hot.” And I’ve been trying to stay hot for 20 yrs dude, and it was easy at first because it was the popular thing. Now thats its not the popular thing, I have to work extra hard. I have to give something more of myself that most DJs don’t have to do, because they’re steady DJs. They can just bullshit and be primadonas. I DJ for you. I don’t have a set. I’ve got a bag full of CDs and I fucking look at the crowd and go, ok this is what they may want and like.
MM: Yeah, I remember seeing Planet of the Drums in 2001 from then on I was just on you guys. All of you. And you’re actually the one, like you said you’re the one thats out there busting your ass, you know you have your label….
AK: Yeah, I work harder than ever. I try. I really really try. Like I fucking try for the sake of this music. You know people who I think they’re too snobby for mainstream, they like all the minimal sounds. Its like man, just be fucking thankful that people give a fuck or that they might give a fuck in a couple of months. (laughs) Because they haven’t been giving a fuck in a long time, you know.
MM: Yeah, I guess the main thing also with that aspect is, you’re going around touring doing your drum and bass circuit still grinding it up, are you seeing like an influx, all of a sudden is this (drum and bass) on the rise again?
AK: Yeah, its fucking crazy, I think the whole scene is getting bigger and bigger and its about to explode right now. Because they’re already doing new versions of dubstep, so if you have new dubstep certainly all these kids who just came into music are digging deeper and deeper into what else bass music has to offer. And drum and bass is the quintessential statement of all bass music. Unless you wanna go back to original electro and miami bass. If you want bass, its fucking drum and bass and jungle, thats what I do. I try to convey to this new kids, new people who are ready right now for a new vibe. They want more, and they should expect more, because they’re not fucking cheap there’s not just one sound.
MM: It feels like that when you go out sometimes, you only hear one sound through out the whole night and it sucks. You know?
AK: Yeah, thats why I try to go around the block. I’ll play jump up, I’ll play hard techy stuff, I’ll play some crossover poppy stuff, steppy stuff. I try to give them a bit of everything.
MM: Well we can touch bases on that poppy stuff. Around 2005 you pretty much went on record saying you would never play Drowning. Is that something that you just embraced and said fuck it?
AK: What can you do, when you have like 100 people hit you up, every single show and go “I can’t believe you won’t play Drowning” and so its like Lynyrd Skynyrd not playing “Freebird”. You know what I mean? Like it doesn’t happen, so I have to do it. A lot of times, I try not to do it and then people come up and they fucking go “I’ll give you $100 if you play Drowning” and I’m like, you know what dude, I’m a drum and bass DJ, I fucking need money, I’m not getting rich. I’m not rich dude. There’s other people that are getting five grand, ten grand, fifteen grand, twenty grand. I’m not getting that. I got a wife and two kids man, I’m forty (laughs). I’ll take that hundred, I’ll play Drowning, fuck yea I’ll play Drowning. Straight up. Straight the fuck up, I got no shame and you can print that.
MM: Yeah thats cool, finally you embrace it. I remember for the longest time you just weren’t playing it anymore you know. Even if you saw the event on Facebook and saw the comments everyone was all like, “oh fuck yeah I haven’t heard Drowning in a long time.” And its like, you know he’s done a lot of since Drowning guys.
AK: No, I know. But what am I gonna do man? I try to give people a good show. Not like, just a DJ set but a good show. People come and have a vibe and they fucking interact. I look at everybody and I have this moments with certain people in the crowd and I just do shit for them, you know what I mean? And why not be like that? Because I can, I’ve been a fucking DJ for so long. Its not fucking hard to be a DJ, so least I can do is maybe look around and say “yo whats up” (laughs) I mean for real, people take this shit way too seriously.
MM: Yeah we know.
AK: Dude like come on. I learned how to DJ, one of the turntables had a dial for pitch and the other one didn’t even have a pitch control. And I had to fucking wheel it up, so shit like this now a days is so simple. I had a good time, with a good crowd and there’s fucking good sound! Thats all that matters. Thats all that fucking matters for any show, anywhere, anyhow, anytime. Straight up.
MM: Before we finish I’ll let you touch up on any plugs, any labels, any people people you are working with?
AK: Right now I’m doing the two agains one stuff, with me and Bill Hamel and Meoux Green. Thats what we do, right now we are doing a remix for Gridlock. I’m just trying to keep giving. So at some point, you know it’ll be worth at the end.
MM: Well in the end, you’re helping out obviously all of this (drum and bass scene in Austin).
AK: Yeah, I’m fucking 40. I don’t wanna do this for much longer. I wanna find something between this atmosphere you know. I have a lot of background in me that I can teach people. What do I wanna do? I wanna chill, I mean just moved to the beach, I have the ocean like a half a mile in front of me, and a river 300 yards behind me. I wanna go fishing, drink fucking pina colada. (laughs) I’m trying to do my thing, and I’m trying to do everything that I have right now to this people so maybe the scene can last a while. Maybe long after I’m gone, after I die people go “dude there was this guy AK1200 that fucking made this music which turned into this.” You know what I mean? I’m good with that. A legacy.
Special Thanks to Everyday Junglist, Sonar Tuesdays and Plush.