Keb Darge 2005 Interview
Keb Darge is the quintessential record collector and DJ. One of the world’s heaviest vinyl-weights this man’s reputation has gone from strength to strength after working with the likes of DJ Shadow and more recently the RZA. Huwston compares sizes and pales in comparison…
Keb Darge is one the best interviews a journalist can ask for in that he’s honest and frank yet playful and charming. Having slung vinyl for at least the last thirty years has proven his collection to be one of the world’s best and in chatting to him about his upcoming tour it was nice to hear his attitudes had stayed roughly the same since we last spoke.
‘I’m just doing what I do, you know?’ Keb says when asked how it feels to constantly be expanding on what he does. ‘ People are really starting to appreciate the older sounds of soul and the funk and are really realising I’m one of the best guys out there. I’m very pleased obviously because I’m so fed up with electronic music… All over Britain (on the telly etc) soul and funk is everywhere.’
In the last few years Keb Darge collaborated with Kenny Dope and Kay Dee records was born. Straying from the more Balearic housey sounds known from MAW, Dope’s influence has opened new doors in which Darge and the listener benefit fully.
‘We just got the tests of our first twelve by Johnny King,’ he says, wondering if it is indeed their first or second twelve-inch single. We’ve got a lot going this year, I’m just looking at the new website now as you’re talking to me and Kenny’s getting us all the access to a bunch of masters (to reissue) from the majors which is great cos they don’t know who the fuck I am but he’s a three time Grammy nominee,’ he says, constantly ‘whooping’ about the prospect. It’s an angle we continue on because Darge obviously doesn’t care that it takes someone else’s reputation to seal some of these deals so long as he can keep his mitts in there. Take for example his forthcoming compilation with the RZA on BBE Kings Of Funk.
‘I like those boys (at BBE),’ he says. The collaboration is one of the most unexpected yet exciting prospects seen on plastic of recent years, but again, Darge is a bit shady on the details.
‘I can’t remember whether he (the RZA) wanted to do it with me or Peter (Adarkwah of BBE) wanted me to do it with him or whatever but the process was sharing emails and a few phone calls where we mainly talked about Kung Fu movies but it’s all been a bit awkward now since his mate died.’
He is in fact talking about Russell Jones AKA Dirt Mcgirt AKA Wu Tang’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who passed away in late 2004 due to complications in his body caused by his crack-cocaine addiction.
‘I was going to have the RZA come over and play at my club but now that that selfish bastard’s died (he says in jest) it’s been cancelled.’
Whilst the prospect of chatting all things Hong Kong Phooey with the RZA is the sort of thing dreams are made of (if you’re a ‘spotty vinyl fiend) Darge is realistic about his place in these compilations.
‘They – and when I say ‘they’ or ‘them’ I’m referring to Americans who want to know but don’t really know about their own musical history – need me on their comps for a bit of credibility, so the big boy does the classics and I do the obscurities. They get to have their name with someone who’s well respected and I get to have my name next to a huge international star,’ he says smiling, and still, occasionally, whooping. ‘I don’t want to do a compilation of obscurities for the collectors, I want to do these sorts of compilations for the girl who works at the supermarket.’
Whilst Darge appears a purist, he has a liberal(ish) attitude to CDs and Re-edits, though don’t expect him to be playing them out anytime soon.
‘I played recently with Jazzy Jeff in Spain who had this laptop and little box thingy (Final Scratch) and I’ve got crates and crates of records and it would be nice to just travel with my overnight bag but it’s not what people pay me for.’ Regarding re-edits he closes with:
‘Show me a painter or decorator who can do touch ups on the Sistine Chapel, mate. I don’t need them because I pick the works of art that don’t need any fixing or editing. They are the way they are.’
Testify. Catch Keb Darge at Boogie Down (Candy’s Apartment) this Friday 21st January. Get there early or cry on Bayswater rd later.