160 BPM footwork from a New York dynamo.
If you talk to anyone about New York City's Kush Jones, one of the first things you'll hear is how busy he is. He self-releases an enormous amount of music, including his Strictly For My CDJZ series, which now stands at nine volumes produced in less than two years. (He's promised to make it 40.) But more remarkable than the quantity is the consistent quality of it all, not to mention its sheer creativity. Take Volume 8: it touches on electro, acid, jungle and house, all with a sleek modernity and an old-school punch. He might make tracks quickly, but they sound laboured over in the best way, engineered to hit as hard and fast. He's part of a wave of New York DJs—along with artists like AceMo, MoMA Ready and DJ Swisha—who don't seem to believe in genres at all, trusting what they know will move their audience's feet instead.
As a member of the JukeBounceWerk crew, however, the key to Kush Jones' heart has always been footwork. And that's what you get on his RA Podcast: an hour of nimble, powerful and rumbling 160 BPM dance music. There are memorable vocal samples ("Is it possible for you to shut the fuck up?"), complex basslines and drum patterns that translate Photek's mid-'90s precision onto a footwork template. With plenty of his own tracks, this mix not only shows off his range but his soul, too, building on the hip-hop and funk inspired sounds of Chicago footwork and adding touches of disco, acid house and more.
What have you been up to recently?
Still managing to make music, be productive and creative. Releasing an EP each month this year on my Bandcamp. My debut solo vinyl release is available on Future Times label. Coronavirus has been keeping me from roaming Brooklyn how I normally do. I miss my homies. I am alive and have my health though.
How and where was the mix recorded?
I recorded it on a XDJ-RX2 in my room, very loudly, at 5 AM.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I haven't done a full 160 BPM mix in a while so I decided to share some of my favorite footwork tracks, some juke and some of my productions. I played a lot of Surly in the mix because he is an amazing track maker that deserves a shout. He is probably the only white man in music I trust 1,000 percent and he's a staple in the JukeBounceWerk crew. He's probably gonna be annoyed that I said this but I love him nonetheless.
Though your music and DJing spans many genres, footwork seems to be a constant. How did you get into the genre, and does it inform your relationship with other kinds of dance music?
YouTube in 2008. NYC had a YouTube channel from this dude named D Cole who hosted lite feet dance battles called "Dark Warz" / "Battle Groundz." Living in NYC my whole life I had the opportunity to attend battles here and lots of friends in high school were into the dance.
Music production also came into my life around this point too. I learned about footwork music and dance through Walacam videos and their footage of Chicago footwork battles. It was cool to me because it was like a parallel world to what I knew in NYC. Black kids dancing to black music to stay off the streets and have an activity to keep them busy. Traxman's music caught my interest first because I always loved his sample selection. Then RP Boo's music completely fucked my head up. I never heard anything like it at the time and I was hooked since. It's a bit denser than this for me, but buy my book when it comes out and I will explain more thoroughly there.
Has the pandemic and quarantine changed the way you think about electronic music?
Yeah. If you got tracks then you should put them out on Bandcamp. If the year 2020 is showing us anything it's the fact that all this shit could be over tomorrow. I'm trying to hear some new shit on the way out. Dance music will always have my heart but also who is tracking the end of the world? I wanna hear that too.
With the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests around the world the last two weeks, how do you feel about the electronic music world's response? How can it address the issues at hand, or what changes would you like to see?
Some of it is performative. Some of it is legitimate action to try and change things. I will say that the only thing people are going to accept going forward is changed behavior from those who were complicit with the suppression of marginalized people in dance music. If you have access to resources or the ability to directly influence change, then just do it. Also if you're a racist just stop being a racist. Stop being homophobic. Stop being transphobic. Stop being xenophobic. If this is hard for you to accomplish then I recommend stepping away from music.
Lastly, I will say to people stop giving clubs, venues, platforms, artists, DJs the time of day if they're on that bullshit. Stop supporting entities that contribute to the continued marginalization of Black people and culture in music. Besides being in the middle of a revolution there are tons of great artists making phenomenal work who aren't assholes or bigots. Break your shackles, you're free now.
What are you up to next?
I really don't know.