DJ Kenneth Thomas signs to Armada

Artist: DJ Kenneth Thomas
Published: 2004-11-22

KT's remarkable progression into the electronic circuit has come quickly due to his talent and positive approach to his fans and his music. His most recent step into writing and producing has him recently signed to Armada (Armin Van Burren's label). His first ever production "Preen" has been singled out as Paul Oakenfold's "top pick of the moment", giving him some well deserved exposure. The quote on KT's web site reads: "This is the most amazing sound that I have encountered; I just want to share it with as many people as possible". He truly reflects his message.

Q: What matters the most to you in life?

My relationship and responsibilities with God.

Q: What was the worst/best experience you have had in your musical career?

Sometimes what seems like the worse experience can become one of you best. My first residency was in the basement of a top 40 club. For the first 6 months the managers of the club kept threatening to turn my room into a hip-hop room if I didn't get more people down. I worked my butt of to build a crowd and make sure every set every Friday was the best I could do to set a great vibe and hopefully build a crowd and keep my job. Finally we had an extremely solid night down there averaging hundreds every Friday in my room. But due to club politics another local dj talked his way into "rotating" Fridays with me and basically I had to "compete" to keep the night that I built. That disappointment led me to try to take the small "trance" night somewhere else. Using that motivation I aggressively approached the owner of Motor in Detroit about doing a proper progressive oriented night at his club. He agreed that there was a market for "trance" in Detroit and gave me Saturday nights in the side room. Within 2 months the room that I was promoting was going so well they flip-flopped formats and landed me as the main room Saturday resident at Motor. That was my first opportunity to play with some of the biggest djs in the world. Motor was launching pad for just about everything that has come since. I ended up leaving my first residency and ironically that room closed only a few months later. At the time losing the fruits of my labor at my first residency seemed to be one of the worst experiences and even seemed like it might be the end of the road, but that experience is what pushed me to reach out beyond that and find something else. Landing a night at Motor must have been one of the best. Finishing Preen and hearing that all these djs I look up too are supporting it was also quite amazing.

Q: Where is your favorite place in the world?

Lake Owen Camp in northern Wisconsin in the middle of the summer. Even more specifically, out in a kayak on Lake Owen at 2 in the morning on a clear night with my headphones on.

Q: What were you doing before you started your music career?

Touring the country as a professional Rollerblader.

Q: Your personal favorite musicians?

Martin Sexton, Dave Matthews, Avail, Face to Face, Mike Targanski/Elevation, Paul Oakenfold

Q: Where do you have residency?

I am a resident at Bleu in Detroit. That usually equates to 1-3 gigs there a month. I have a monthly with at there Snap parties. I am a resident with Rampant Entertainment & System Soundbar in Toronto. I also play regularly with Spundae in Chicago. I also have a bi-weekly show on from 3-6pm est.

Q: Which DJ do you most respect/enjoy and why?

I have immense respect for Paul Oakenfold for what he has been able to accomplish in this industry. He seems to have a great knack for business and marketing along with a solid passion for the music. There are so many other Djs as well who have contributed so much to this industry.

Q: Have you been in awe of someone while playing alongside them?

Recently DJ Dan had me wowed. I like and respect his music although it's not my favorite style. But I was really impressed with his great set programming and immaculate mixing ability. Probably the smoothest mixing I have ever seen. Zabeila has also impressed me immensely with his mixing and programming live although at that gig I wasn't playing with him. I also had an opportunity to be in the booth with Sasha during his recent set at Bleu. His ability to manipulate and control the Pioneer CDJ 1000's was amazing. I've had the opportunity twice to play with Ferry Corsten and he as well has impressed me with his unique style of chuggy electro infused trance style. The style he's been bringing across over the past few years I think is a great blend of energy and groove.

Q: Where is your favorite club/city to play?

Spundae at Vision in Chicago is my favorite. The Guvernment in Toronto is a close second. Bleu in Detroit and Metropolis in Cleveland are also up there.

Q: Your favorite track of all time?

That's extremely tough because every couple of months a new tune will own me. I'll list a few off my head that have all been favorites of mine. Tiesto- Suburban Train, Grayarea- Gravity, 3 Drives on Vinyl- Greece 2000 never leaves my bag in one form or another, Sven Vath- Barbarealla (Deep Dish mix), Satoshi Tomiee- Up in Flames (Bedrock remix), Bedrock- Heaven Scent, I could go on and on so I'll leave it at that÷

Q: You just signed a contract with Armada Records- How do you find producing and writing music? Any more rewarding?

I still like djing more. I'm an energetic person and love the journey of putting a set together from point a to be and everything in between. Studio work is great and very fulfilling when you are able to drop a tune that you had a creative influence in existing but playing a great 4 hour set with a crowd that is up for going in any direction I guide them and finding that connection is more rewarding. Producing is great though. It's just a different kind of release. Right now all my work has been done with Elevation who is already an extremely established producer on his own. Maybe once we finish my studio and I start on my solo projects my opinion will change.

Q: What's your secret getting noticed - any tips for fellow D.J.'s?

First be sure your skills are on point. Not on point with your local hero, but on point with the best in the world. Don't hold yourself to a low standard, if you want to make it to the top, be sure you can play with the best. Know music. Experiment with a lot of different styles to find your own unique nitch that truly speaks to you. Be well rounded in music and understand it. Be able to play anytime, anyplace, and anywhere. You might play hard house, but what if the local resident bails on a gig and your first opportunity to play is to open up for some big progg dj. The headling progg dj probably wouldn't be too thrilled to come in at 11:30 to hear bangin' tunes at 138bpm right before he is set to go on. Throw a few deeper records in your bag that dig just in case you need to set a early vibe and vice versa, if you're primarily a deep house dj, have a small stack of bangin' tunes you like just incase you have to play a big room, or fill in for Tall Paul after he gets sick from that Sushi he had earlier. Don't change your style or play tracks you don't like, but be able to gear your set a few degrees to the right or left until you are Sasha and can play what ever you like at any time or place. You never know when your big opportunity will come so be prepared. One last suggestion; ALWAYS have a demos on you. Be sure your demo is really solid. Have a clean label with your contact info on it. When you are playing out, hand a demo to any fan, dancer, or promoter who even looks your way. These are the people you want to connect with. A good demo in the right hands can go along way. Ask James Zabiela.

Q: What is the best thing you have ever done - outside music?

Got married to my wife Izabella.

For more information on DJ Kenneth Thomas visit:

Writer: Penny Hayward

Photo:Silvana Barbieri

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