By Tammy Scileppi
Today’s digital age of electronic dance music gets a refreshing “dis” from a local DJ’s vintage vibe mix of funk and soul, featured in his newly released album – made with old-school, analog technology.
DJ SeanKev, often referred to as “Doctor of the Mix” is one of the few who keeps this DJ art form alive, mixing 12-inch records and 45s.
On his new album, “SeanKev 1982 Disco Funk,” which became available Nov. 26, SeanKev said he wanted to create a low fidelity sound from up tempo funk that gave the listener a feeling of being in a club during the dawning of house music.
His sound is a mix of funk, disco and soul and includes a selection of unexpected instruments like bongos and congas, SeanKev said.
The 34-year-old East Elmhurst DJ recalled spending countless hours going through records to find certain selections and coming up with new ideas on how to sequence certain parts, he said.
He says his new album reflects his strong dance culture influence — growing up on the streets of Queens in the ’80s — where, according to Sean McCauley of MondoTunes, “he was taught by masters of the old school, and he’s lovingly kept the fine urban art of wax alive.”
As a kid, SeanKev said he used to spend his lunch money buying records at stores like Disc-O-Rama, Dance Tracks, and Numbers on Junction Boulevard, and eventually, soul music became a way of life for him.
Performing regularly in Queens and other parts of the city and as far away as Japan, where he is well-known at four clubs in Osaka, he says he once DJed with Boogie Blind, a supremely talented turntablist, for a Rich Medina party at LPR Club in Greenwich Village.
Since returning from his Japan tour, SeanKev has been busy producing and mixing “some funk soul re-edits for my fans, who follow me on my live broadcasts on YouTube” (SeanKev102). And he posts regularly to his SoundCloud profile (soundcloud.com/seankev/).
McCauley said SeanKev’s new sound separates him from other current vinyl spinners, because the DJ does it just like they did in the 1980s.
“He’s not just playing great LP records from his gorgeous collection, he’s neck-deep in them. He mixes, he samples; he gets on the mic and talks to his audience,” McCauley said. “Also — and this is huge — his digital record is over two hours long, and the first 17 tracks only represent the first half hour. The last track, SeanKev’s ‘Special Album Mix,’ comprises the remaining 90 minutes. It’s a solid hour and a half of DJ SeanKev spinning the album’s material the way he would at a club or house party, along with additional material, so you can click ‘play’ and go about your business, while your personal DJ from Queens makes all the magic happen. It’s just gorgeous!”
So, how was the album made the old school way?
SeanKev said he used a synthesizer and a keyboard, along with a turntable connected to mixer and onto an analog track board. It was then recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder and digitalized for final process.
Still known in his ‘hood as “Kev the kid who do tricks at the park,” SeanKev says growing up, he was into BMX bikes.
“I was raised in Corona, moved to East Elmhurst around 1989, and from there the foundation had been created with friends, school, and talent,” SeanKev said. “Queens was pretty rough at the time. There was a lot of poverty happening and the crime rate was unbearable. People were dying over eight ball jackets or even stepping on someone’s shoes. Police would walk around with billy clubs and .38 Revolvers. So, yeah, my experience was real.”
The popular DJ said he has always had the ear for mixing or just pairing or matching two records together in a complex way.
“My best friend from my neighborhood, we met in I.S. 145 in the sixth grade, is a scratch DJ that truly inspired me to be creative and cultivate my skills for the world to hear,” SeanKev said. “DJ Percision is known for his miraculous beat juggling skills.”
And his uncle influenced him, as well.
“He was into the whole DJ movement, collecting records and spinning on a broken receiver,” SeanKev said. “I learned about the Ultimate Breaks and Beats (a series of compilation albums) and listened to stories he would share with me coming from the Roof Top Night Club in the ’80s. A very historical moment, I must say.”
Describing himself as “married to the soul of music but single in physical form,” SeanKev says he’s working on a new album for 2014.
McCauley said, “He’s a master of his craft and deserves to go as far as music can take him.”
“SeanKev 1982” LP is available for sale and download at: iTunes, Amazon and Beatport. Find out more about him by visiting his website, www.seankev.com