Berlin-based DJ and producer, David Keno, speaks to us about his latest production with Dalson, his favourite track of 2017 and running his own imprint
The Swiss-born, DJ, producer and label owner known as David Keno began his journey into music through the usual channels, playing the guitar and drums as a youngster, and going on to perform in bands. This route all changed when he began hearing music from the likes of Pink Floyd and Depeche Mode, soon leading him onto a vibrant career in electronic music, starting back in 2005. To this day, Keno is best known for his palatable-natured beats that are largely accompanied by melodious tones and adventurous pads.
David Keno has seen his own original productions released under his own name for labels such as Stil vor Talent, Morris Audio, and Riva Starr’s label, Snatch Records. Now, in it’s eleventh year, Keno Records has seen 50th releases put out on the flagship imprint and it’s 50th is a joint effort from long-term friends and colleagues, David and Dalson. The ‘We Got Our Own‘ EP was the final release of 2017 and has been described by David himself as “having an old-school vibe with a modern sound” and that they tried to “go back to [their] roots”. You can listen to the full release at the bottom of this interview piece.
Get to Know: David Keno
Hi David, let’s start with your landmark 50th release on Keno Records, ‘We Got Our Own’. The two-tracker from yourself and Dalson is out now. You’ve worked with the German duo on a number of occasions, what’s the story behind your working-relationship?
I’ve known the Dalson guys a lot of years now. They live in a small town near Frankfurt where I spent most of my teenage years and got in contact with them though the electronic music scene. Back then they were already pretty good DJ’s and played at parties where I went just as a guest. I got into producing and DJing much later than them. Now more than 15 years later we are friends and spend quite a lot of time in the studio together. We are a bit different in our musical taste but I think the results of our work are somewhere in between which can be pretty interesting.
Both tracks are of course, club-orientated and offer fine differences in their sound with the self-titled ‘We Got Our Own’ possessing a real jackin’ house vibe and ‘Dynamite’ with more vocal-based sampling; what was the general thought process behind this release?
This release has a certain old-school vibe with a modern sound I would say. We like to go back to our roots but not just copying the old sound but to add our own flavour to it.
“We don’t put too much pressure on the release plan. If we feel that the time isn’t right for a new record we just wait”
You’re a producer who came into electronic music with a strong background in other musical endeavours. Could you give us the story behind the moments you transitioned fully into electronic music?
It was a very slow process for me. I grew up with music from the 80’s, played guitar in different bands but started to like electronic music like drum n bass since I was a teenager. Later on I got in contact with house and techno in Frankfurt and that had a great impact on me and my creative output. I bought a synthesizer and started experimenting with this kind of music next to my activities in the bands. So over the years the electronic music I produced got better and better and eventually I quit my band and focused completely on my solo projects.
We mentioned earlier, you are now celebrating your 50th release on your Keno Records imprint. Since launching a decade ago, How would you summarise the journey thus far and what’s your 2018 vision for the project?
It all began as a playground for my own releases, that’s why it’s called Keno Records. Over the years I started releasing music from other artists as well and the whole thing turned into a proper music label. Gladly we managed the transition from vinyl to digital without bigger problems and things went on for more than 10 years now.
Having only 50 releases in such a long time shows that it wasn’t too much about the quantity. In some years we only had 3-4 records coming out. We don’t put too much pressure on the release plan. If we feel that the time isn’t right for a new record we just wait. In 2017 the pace was relatively high but I think in 2018 we can even step it up a notch.
You’ve worked alongside several producers in your career, but what artist(s) would you like to work with in the future?
At the moment I am in contact with some new vocalists for my future projects. I feel like writing some songs at the moment. I will definitely keep on producing dance floor tracks varying from house to techno but I need myself to stay entertained. I can’t do the same thing for too long. To answer the question: I’m working on a collaboration with my old friend Beatamines right now for example.
We appreciate this could be a difficult question, but what is your best track of 2017?
My best track this year? Sometimes the one that I think is the best one is not my most successful one but this time it is: Ananas on Mother Recordings.
If you could travel back in time, what musical or general advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t waste your time. Look for people who are good at making music and learn from them. Go all in earlier. Man I would love to start over again with the experience I have today. That would be awesome.
Our final question, what makes dance music so special to you?
Dance music is all about the energy to me. Feeling the music played out on a big sound system reminds me exactly why I started doing this in the first place.