Kim Ann Foxman Talks Miami Bass, "Synths, Drum Machines," and Other Sonic Turn-Ons
As part of Hercules & Love Affair's original lineup, Kim Ann Foxman helped rekindle the flames of our passion for classic house sounds in the late 2000s. But as a solo producer and DJ, Foxman is showing us house music's future, and it sounds sexier than ever.
Sultry vocal hooks, irresistible basslines, and serotonin-spiking synth riffs are her penchant in the studio. It follows that she's more than adept at moving dance floors when she gets on the decks.
Ahead of this Saturday's headlining performance at Electric Pickle, we here at Crossfade caught up with Ms. Foxman to chat about growing up in Hawaii, what turns her on musically, and her new release.
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Crossfade: What did you grow up listening to? And how did you first get drawn to electronic dance music? Were you exposed to much of it while growing up in Hawaii?
Kim Ann Foxman: Freestyle music, breakdance music, and Miami bass were really popular whilst I was growing up, so my ear always favored that electronic sound: drum machines and synths. Then Technotronic and Snap were all over the radio and that was really huge for me. Someone gave me a couple of rave compilations in 1992 and that was the first time that I really heard techno music. When I look back now, they were quite cheesy compilations, but it was exciting for me at the time and sparked my curiosity to find more of this sound.
As far as club a scene or rave scene goes, there was one in Hawaii, but it was really small. We had one option most of the time for going out, as opposed to many to choose from, like in most other places. In high school, I got a job at an all-ages club making energy smoothies and serving non-alcoholic drinks, so I heard a lot of underground dance music that way.
What prompted you to move to San Francisco and then New York City? How do you think these cities shaped you as an artist?
San Francisco as well as New York have very much shaped me as an artist. I had moved to San Francisco fresh out of high school, and stayed there for seven years, so I just needed a change really. San Francisco gave me my musical roots and inspiration. I was really into the underground dance music scene there and started collecting records and mixtapes, and it gave me an experience of my first electronic band, which was an introduction to drum machines, samplers, and playing live.
When I moved to New York, of course that took things to a new level. I started DJing and became friends with Andy Butler who I worked with on little underground things for fun, which eventually led to the involvement with Hercules & Love Affair some years later, which was a really big journey in so many ways.
How do you normally approach the creative process while working on a track? Do you normally start with a lyric or mental sketch? Or do you improvise in the studio?
It's a combination of things really, rather than one certain way. Mostly, I improvise in the studio and see where it takes me. But, at the same time, whenever an idea comes, even if I'm on an airplane or walking around the city, I record that idea into my phone so that I don't forget it -- that way I can always look back at ideas for basslines, melodies, or lyrics. With vocal melodies, it's usually recordings of me improvising that leads to something I like, as well as referring to ideas I had written down.
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Did singing come naturally to you, or did you have to develop the skill?
Well, I was extremely shy at first, and still am quite shy when it comes to singing. So I guess a lot of it was just having the courage to actually do it in the first place. For me, that is the biggest challenge. Then, of course, I also had to learn some things as well, and I'm still learning along the way.
As a listener and DJ, which are the key ingredients you look for in music? Which sonic elements turn you on the most?
A hot bassline is always the winner for me, and I also love some kind of vocal element, even if it's just a sample used in a fresh way -- vocals are not always necessary, but when it's done well, it leaves a bigger impression on me. And nice synth lines are awesome too. The beat is a given.
What's next for you on the production front? Any forthcoming projects or releases we can look forward to?
My next solo single is on Heidi's Jackathon Jams and is coming out in June! I'm looking forward to that release. Its called "Be Mine"/"Let Me Be The One." There are remixes from Catz 'N Dogz and Soul Clap which are really nice!
So what can we expect at Electric Pickle on Saturday night?
I'm really happy to be playing at Electric Pickle again. You can expect to dance to some really hot underground jams, and I'll also dig out some hidden gems especially for the Pickle.
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Kim Ann Foxman. With Andrew Ward. Friday, May 16. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $15 plus fees via residentadvisor.net. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.
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