KON-ON MY WAY.
KON-ON MY WAY.
For self-confessed crate-digger Kon, his raison d’etre is the pursuit of music with the perfect beat or break. He’ll leave no stone unearthed in his search for vinyl. He’s searched dusty basements, backstreet record shops, flea markets, charity shops and nowadays, online auctions looking for vinyl. They’re among his favorite haunts in his pursuit of that elusive slab of vinyl. The one that contains the perfect break and beat. Even better, it might be the perfect song, the one that changes your life and makes you wonder how you lived without it. While this describes Kon, it could just as easy describe any crate-diggers.
To crate-diggers, searching for music crate-digging is like an addiction. Regardless of how much music you have, you always want more. There’s always room for another shelf or crate of vinyl. The crate-digger’s need and desire for music can never dampened or sated. It’s always been there. It starts when they’re a child. All their pocket money is spent on music. Later, grants and wages feed the growing music habit. The more money you have, the more music you buy. After all, there’s so much to discover. Kon whose new album On My Way was released by BBE Music, on 22nd July 2013, discovered this at an early age.
Kon’s lifelong love of music started when he was just four. This life-changing event happened when he first heard Electric Light Orchestra’s 1974 album Eldorado. The drama and theatre of Eldorado, with its cinematic strings, well crafted songs and poppy hooks had Kon hooked. After this, Kon went in search of more music. Helping fuel this interest in music was his was his father. He was a drummer. Soon, Kon was looking for the perfect break. As for music, it was a case of the funkier the better. Two of his favorite compilation series were the Off Track and On Track series. They’d also influence his future career.
Given Kon’s love of music, it’s no surprise that he would eventually make a career out of music. Starting off as a DJ back in the eighties, Kon started honing his own unique DJ-ing style. The next step for Kon, was making his own edits, which he played during his DJ sets. His edits were his secret weapons, guaranteed to liven up any dance-floor. Making edits however, was just a step towards the next part of Kon’s career, when he start working as a remixer.
Making his own edits was good preparation for when Kon started remixing tracks. It was as if everything had been leading towards this. This had included a lifetime listening to, and understanding music. Then, there was all the time Kon spent studying John Morales and Walter Gibbons remixes. Having learnt from two of the top remixers, Kon was well prepared to start his remixing career. His style of remixing involved stripping the track back to just the rhythm section. After allowing them their moment in the spotlight, he started rebuilding the track. Quickly, Kon’s reputation as a remixer grew. However, much as he enjoyed creating edits and remixes, he wanted to create his own music. This was the next chapter in Kon’s career, what everything had been leading to.
Having made the decision to produce his own music, Kon hooked up with some of his musical friends, old and new. Among them, were keyboardist Yuki Kanesaka, plus vocalists Amy Douglas, Ben Westbeech, Induce and George Levin. They’d play their part in Kon’s debut album, On My Way.
Opening Kon’s debut album On My Way is All Night (Everybody). There’s a reassuring old school sound to the track. That comes courtesy of a sound that’s reminiscent of old, crackling vinyl. Meanwhile, pounding drums provide the heartbeat. Along with stabs of synths, they set the scene for Amy Douglas’ vocal. It’s a fusion of power, sass and confidence. She swaggers across the arrangement, squelchy synths, keyboards and drums providing a backdrop, as soul, funk and disco combines, while Amy discovers her inner diva.
Washes of synths open She Was A Queen. Soon, handclaps, percussion and a whispery vocal combine as the track reveals its secrets and subtleties. Again, it’s a dance-floor friendly track. Elements of funk, soul, house and disco combine, creating a hypnotic, sensual and moody track that’s guaranteed to fill any dance-floor.
Enigmatic. That describes Day Dream, a short, wistful track. Lasting less than a minute, it’s slower, with a melancholy, cinematic sound that’s very different from the previous tracks. It’s a tantalizing taster not just of Kon’s versatility, but what he’s capable of musically.
The tempo drops on Don’t Cha Wanna. Drums pound, hands clap and a funky bass-line joins mellow keyboards. Kon teases the listener. He’s not wanting to show his hand too soon. When he does, it’s the musical equivalent of a royal flush. George Levin delivers a vocal that’s heartfelt and filled with hurt. It’s also deeply soulful, especially with the harmonies accompanying him. As for the arrangement, it’s funky, jazz-tinged and dance-floor friendly.
Swathes of grand, cinematic strings open Awe Baby, before thunderous drums drive the arrangement along. They provide the pulsating heartbeat, while percussion and keyboards combine with the strings. Having settled into a groove, it’s then explored and exploited. Bold, dramatic and dance-floor friendly, the track heads in the direction of house, then funk, thanks to the funkiest of bass-lines and keyboards. Dramatic, mesmeric and blessed with a real summery vibe, it’s a timeless track.
Just over a minute long, 808 State is best described as a slow, moody but melodic musical Amuse Bouche. This shows another side to Kon’s music, one that he should consider exploring.
You Don’t Know (I’ve Been Looking For You) is the polar opposite of the previous track. Exploding into life, it’s propelled along by pounding drums and an uber funky bass. Soon, synths signal the arrival of Ben Westbeech’s vocal. Soulful and needy, harmonies accompany him as soul, funk and house combine with disco. It’s a real fusion of musical genres and influences, one that’s infectiously catchy and full of poppy hooks.
Joyously, Love Shine bursts into life. Heartfelt, soaring harmonies combine with the rhythm section before Induce’s vocal enters. It’s impassioned and pleading, with harmonies and bubbling synths accompanying him. Later, Kon strips the arrangement back to just the rhythm section, as Induce delivers a vampish vocal. Then, he sets about rebuilding the track where, everything from soul, funk, soulful house, US garage and gospel house have influenced this uplifting, joyous fusion of musical influences.
Yeah, Yeah is the last of the short tracks on On My Way. Soulful, dramatic and impassioned, keyboards, horns and bursts of vampish vocal combine to create a compelling track.
Straight away, there’s a New Order influence to Blow Me…A Kiss. It’s the drums the lead to this comparison. They’re joined by washes of synths and percussion. Stabs of synths join the drums at the heart of the dance-floor friendly arrangement. Then Amy Douglas makes her second appearance on On My Way. She picks up where she left off on All Night (Everybody). Strutting across the arrangement, her vocal’s sassy, soulful and sensual. When her vocal drops out, filters are used to add to the drama. Toying and teasing the listener, one of the highlights of On My Way heads towards its dramatic ending.
Closing On My Way is the title-track On My Way. Thunderous drums grab your attention, before melodic keyboards and squelchy synths enter. From there, a compelling dance track unfolds. It also a track full of surprises. One of them is a vocoder, the chosen weapon of purveyors of populist dance music like Daft Punk. Thankfully, here it’s neither overused nor abused. Instead, it adds to, rather detracts from a melodic track where deep house, disco and pop are combined with hooks aplenty.
For a debut album, Kon’s On My Way, which was released on BBE Music on 22nd July 2013, is a slick, polished and accomplished album. It’s an eleven-track musical journey, which reflects Kon’s musical tastes. Disco, funk and soul are three of the four major musical genres that influenced Kon. The other is house music. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear deep, funky, gospel and soulful house on On My Way. These influences play their part in an album that’s dance-floor friendly, and full of poppy hooks. On My Way is also an album influenced by Kon’s musical past.
Everything in Kon’s musical career has been leading up to On My Way. Whether it’s Kon’s experience as a DJ, then editing and remixing tracks, it has been put to good use. This taught him what type of music fills a dance-floor. Knowing that, put him one step ahead of other producers. He wasn’t going to make the musical mistakes they did. No. Instead, he was going to create music that was soulful, funky and guaranteed to fill any dance-floor. With its uplifting, summery sound, On My Way is guaranteed to do that. However, there’s more to On My Way than just dance music.
By that, I mean the three musical sketches. There’s the enigmatic Day Dream, the slow, moody but melodic 808 State and the soulful, dramatic and vampish Yeah, Yeah. Less than four minutes long, these tracks have a cinematic quality. They’re reminiscent of Nightmares On Wax’s two ambient Magnus Opus’ Smoker’s Delight and Car Book Soul. What this trio of tracks also demonstrate, is that Kon, as a producer, is versatile and is no one trick pony. Quite the opposite.
Considering how versatile Kon is as a producer, it’ll be interesting to see what direction is career heads. Given his background as a DJ, then editing and remixing tracks, the smart money would be on Kon continuing to create albums that are dance-floor friendly. This would mean more music like that On On My Way. That’s no bad thing. Far from it. After all, Kon’s debut album On My Way soulful, funky, dance-floor friendly and full of poppy hooks. What better way is there to start Kon’s career as a producer? Kon can safely say that I’m On My Way. Standout Tracks: Day Dream, Don’t Cha Wanna, Awe Baby and You Don’t Know (I’ve Been Looking For You).
KON-ON MY WAY.