King Django Interview
– maybe we should start with a short introduction. could you tell us a little bit more about yourself!
Read my bio at http://www.kingdjango.com, dude, that's what it's for, so I don't have to keep answering this question over and over.
– can you still remember the early 8ts in nyc? with bands like the a-team, boilers and secret step? how were the bands? the scene?
Yeah, that would have been the A-Kings, the Boilers and the Second Step. I was in the Boilers. That was coming off of the 2-Tone days so a lot of that influence was still around, mixing the styles like that. There was a lot more reggae in the mix in those days, and people listened to a lot more reggae as well. Other than that, you know, it's like any scene, you dress up, you go out, you drink and dance and party and have fun. It was a blast. I hope young people are having as much fun at ska and reggae shows now, I think they are!
– lets talk about the first roots&cultue album. how did you get the idea to mix klezmer and ska?
The record label I was with at the time had the idea of me doing a Stubborn All-Stars Christmas record. I said no, 'cause I am Jewish and I don't celebrate Christmas. A couple of weeks later, the label guy, Fred, said, "Hey, I got it, Ska Mitzvah!" I didn't even know what he was talking about. So that's where the idea for the Jewish ska record came
from. Then I got a bunch of different Jewish music to listen to and I made the record using some of those influences.
– Do you get your musical influence, not just from the ska and reggae but from Jewishness, from your grandfather?
I get my musical influence from all different kinds of music. I enjoy listening to and playing a wide variety of different music, not only ska and reggae. My Grandmother was a big influence on me, some of the first music I remember hearing was her singing me to sleep in Yiddish. That was my favorite thing, to listen to her sing me lullabies.
– The song Slaughter, is that really about your grandfather?
Yes, that song is really about my grandfather, my mother's father. He was in three concentration camps during WWII, including Buchenwald, from which he was eventually liberated. My mother and uncle were born in a Displaced Persons camp in Wasserburg, Germany.
– can we expect a new roots&culture album soon?
I've just finished a new solo album (backed by Version City Rockers), and I am going to get back to work on the Roots and Culture album right away. I'm not sure when it will be done, I don't want to put it on a deadline. I will work on it for as long as it needs to be worked on to be as great as I can make it.
– have you ever experienced antisemitism? i have heard its quite strong at the east coast.
I have experienced anti-Semitism quite a bit, from the time I was a kid up 'til now. I think it's more worrying in Europe right now, especially in places like France and Belgium but all over Europe.
– Speaking of klezmer you performed with The Klezmatics
I've never actually performed WITH the Klezmatics, but we have performed on the same bills. Frank London (Klezmatics' trumpet player) is really the guy who inspired me to finally play the Roots & Culture material live.
– Your song Shtickele is all in Yiddish. Did you have to learn Yiddish?
Shtiklakh and about half of the rest of the Roots and Culture album are in Yiddish. I grew up hearing and speaking Yiddish with my mother and her parents.
– Have you heard of any guys in Israel?
I have a lot of family in Israel. I haven't heard of any Israeli ska, though.
– you have played in december 2004 with susan cadogan. could you tell us more about the show? is there more planed? is she living in nyc?
That was very casual, a small show, I just came in and sang a set with the Jammyland All-Stars and Susan and Glen Adams also performed with them.
– and which other projects are you working right now?
Here's the latest studio news:
Version City has been a busy little place lately!
-Version City Studio owner King Django has just completed his own new full-length solo album. Entitled "Roots Tonic," the album will be released in the US on Stubborn/Jump Up, and in the UK on Jamdown. With rhythm tracks by all of your favorite Version City Rockers, the album features guest appearances from Dr. Ring Ding and Rocker T. In the meantime, Django has been very busy engineering and producing a slew of other bands & artists:
-Hub City Stompers have just completed a 5-song EP.
-The Slackers have taken up residence for a while, doing overdubs and dub mixing for an upcoming all-dub CD and a new full-length!
-New Jersey's The Miasmics are very nearly done tracking for their upcoming magnum opus.
-Bigger Thomas are in and out working on their new full-length.
-The Pietasters laid down basic tracks for an as-yet-undefined project.
– you have start your own studio, version city, a few years ago. how was is it in the beginning? the studio is moved, right?
It was fun and exciting in the beginning although it was very primitive and the space that we had for the studio was a disgusting cellar in NYC. At that time, we were so excited to have a studio that it didn't matter. Eventually I got so disgusted with that place that I couldn't work there at all anymore. The studio is moved and greatly improved with a nice, comfortable space to work in, and much improved equipment with a lot more capabilities and better sound!
– What are some of the bands you've recorded at Version City?
Stubborn All-Stars, Slackers, Pietasters, Hub City Stompers, Westbound Train, Sugar Minott, Sister Nancy, Ranking Joe, Heavy Step, Mr. T-Bone, Rocker T, Dr. Ring Ding, Victor Rice and many more.
– Any strange and funny moments in the studio?
All of them.
– how did you got together with The Scrucialists, I was curious about that?
Martin from Redda agency was working with them and he suggested we check each other out. They sent me a few riddims and we decided to work on an EP together. That sort of just blossomed into the album and tour. They are great guys and I love to work with them and hang out with them. I recorded about 5 more songs with them when I was on tour in Europe earlier this year. I hope we get to do something again soon!
– how was the tour in europe?
The last tour was great, I had an excellent time with Open Season and VictorRice. Everyone was very well-behaved!
– the last three cds you have bought
Don Imus – This Honky's Nuts
Dr. John – Going Back to New Orleans
Stur Gav Hi Fi