Interview: DJ Food on piracy, Ninja Tune and Farmfest

With Farmfest (it’s a £53 Somerset festival, get to know) fast approaching, we caught up with one of the festival’s DJs, @DJFood. Not one to ration his creativity to music, Kevin Foakes talks about his passion for design.

Hello DJ Food! For those unaware of you and your work, describe what you do! 

I divide my time between DJing, making music and designing for the @NinjaTune label and others. I’ve been DJing since 1985 and working with Ninja for 20 years now; making records, designing records and mixing records. Music and art are my twin passions and I get to work on both at any given time.

I was originally influenced by pop and electronic music in the early 80s and then got into DJing via hip hop. From then on I broadened my tastes outwards into all kinds of club music throughout the 90s and the sources of much golden era hip hop sampling like jazz, funk, rock and soundtracks. My current tastes run more to psychedelia and early 80s synth music.

You’ve been booked for a number of festivals this year but the one we’re most looking forward to is Somerset’s Farmfest. Have you been before? What are you expecting?

No, never been but expecting a small but untainted festival with people who have an expanded taste in music.

I actually don’t think piracy is the main problem…

You’ve given us a little teaser of things to come at Farmfest this August with your ‘Children of the Sun’ mix. Talk us through it.

It runs the gamut of a lot of things I like outside of the club-orientated music I play, interesting cover versions like the Dells’ take on ‘Wichita Lineman’. Also the ambient electronica side of things with The Orb, The KLF and the evergreen Boards of Canada. I also like to add obvious things to the obscure so there’s no shame in putting The Isley Brothers’ ‘Summer Breeze’ in there, a favourite from my childhood.

Your latest release, ‘The Search Engine’ dropped in 2011 adding to an impressively long discography. Do you have any plans for future releases or are you just enjoying DJing?

I’ve got things bubbling for the next record but haven’t started it yet. I still have a few other projects to tie up before I get to that but I am DJing a lot and also designing and having a ball with it all at the moment so it will be the end of the year before I settle down to make the next album.

[Current promo]

You’ve been releasing for 25 years and you’ve seen the sale of music transform from cassettes, to CDs, digital downloads and now cloud streaming. With digital piracy on the rise and Spotify paying diddly squat, do you feel that established DJs are less inclined to produce new music?

I think anyone creative is compelled to produce something, the problem is that the avenues of making any kind of living from it are narrowing rapidly. I’m lucky in that I have design work to help me survive and I’ve never relied solely on music to get by. I actually don’t think piracy is the main problem, it’s a conditioning of the consumer that means that the idea of paying doesn’t even come into things.

What plans do you have for 2014 and beyond?

I’m touring the ‘3-Way mix’ a 3 DJ, 4 deck reconstruction of The Beastie Boys’ ‘Paul’s Boutique’ album with DJ Cheeba and DJ Moneyshot, that’s a lot of fun. I’m just finishing up designing a huge 30th anniversary box set of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ and will be putting to bed some themed DJ mixes that I’ve had on the back burner for some time.

Top three tracks:

Any closing words?
A: Check out the whole Soundcarriers LP ‘Entropicalia’ on Ghost Box – album of the year so far. “This is the end, my only friend, the end…”

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