16th Element - A Well Strung Warp to Fame
Author: Aaron Roach
Monday, 8 July 2002
Pete Tong, Seb Fontaine and Ministry Radio are still playing his music ten months after its initial overseas release and label leaders, Loaded/Skint and Subliminal Records, are in love with his music. X-Press 2, well respected producers, wanted his remixing skills for their UK hit "Lazy" which featured David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) on vocals, as they were so impressed with Warp. In return, they remixed his music.
With a portfolio as powerful as that, imagine how I'm feeling when I get the call from the local conference carrier saying Kam Denny is on the other end!
Kam quickly dissipates any nerves I have due to the fact he is so easy to talk to. Before our interview even starts it becomes a friendly chat between two electronica enthusiasts.
The first question is the obvious, how did he get into it all-
He started out young. "At around twelve or thirteen I got introduced to the whole dj'ing thing through a friend's cousin. We started out with all those poxy 80's songs on 12"!
Kam adds, "I bought my first keyboard around the same time; it was a Casio SK-1. I think it was from K-Mart. At around nineteen I worked in a theatre restaurant as a keyboardist when I started dabbling in sequencing. I also got introduced to my first studio in '92 by a friend. The music transcended from there."
The diversity he shows with his unique depth and attitude towards music makes for a different sounding track every time. Some producers fall into the trap of finding their niche sound and sticking with it for every production. Kam steers clear of that ground. "It's not just the 16th Element vibe; it's about being diverse, somewhat underground. "Obviously if someone hears a 16th Element tune they're going to expect the same trademark sounds. It's the part where you're using your own brain that produces quality."
Kam's influences are proof of his grounded approach. Citing influences from Jean Michelle Jarre and Rick Waitman, to the other side of the boundary with funk kings James Brown and Jimmy Bo Horne, I ask if they still play an influential role into how he creates his own music today. "Yes and no. There's a slight inspiration from those artists. I still love listening to them, but I concentrate on my own work and try to be as original as I can."
Pushing a fresh sound, which ironically is just being heard locally, I ask Kam where the ideas come that make his sound flow. "It's all ground base. I might fuck around in one session and make an 8 bar loop, then come back to it later and say "How come I haven't done anything with this-" and I'll hammer away constantly."
It's no surprise then that Warp was somewhat made in the same way as his mentality. "Warp was very unplanned. Vicious Vinyl needed a b-side to Well Strung. It came together with a few grooves, touchups. The sound was great, but added big sounds and sonics to push it to a new depth."
On the other hand, Kam tells me that Well Strung was the planned track. "It was definitely more planned. It was the Timo Maas, Ian Pooley sound with the enormous filtered breakdowns and a constant blend. Tracks like Squelch really appealed to me."
With Warp being such a huge tune overseas, it's easy to understand why producers like X-Press 2 would be interested in doing something with it, adding their own magic. "It was signed to Loaded/Skint." Kam says. "They heard the mix and liked it. It was very surreal to have them working on one of my songs as I have such an immense respect for the group. They really went to a new level Tags