The King Is Back
King Britt is, above all, a shape-shifter. The Philadelphia DJ, musician, and label impresario is no stranger to Miami, but each time he pays a visit, it's in a different guise. Last time was during Winter Music Conference, most notably for his annual Art of Seduction party, a soulful gathering where silky grooves meet live, legendary vocalists like Jody Watley. But just a few months before that, he was at Laundry Bar, supporting his experimental album/project The Nova Dream Sequence, pumping out live, Detroit-style techno on an array of buzzing machines, including even a Nintendo DS.
Over the phone, the chilled-out "King," as he answers, laughs at the mention of The Nova Dream Sequence. "Oh yeah," he says, trailing off. It's no wonder he doesn't remember every detail of every expansive project — he has too much going. Over the years, King has had as many lives as a steroidal cat. Maybe most famously, he was the DJ for the hip-hop group Digable Planets, which scored big in 1993 with "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)." But dance music fans also know him as cofounder, with Josh Wink, of the legendary Ovum Recordings ... and as the remixer for high-profile artists like Tori Amos and Mary Wilson ... and as a dance-floor purveyor of top-cut, slinky grooves powered on Illadelph funk.
But lately on the disco front, he has mostly done it for the kids — literally — with Baby Loves Disco, for Rope a Dope, promoters of a sort of mommy-and-me circuit of dance parties. "They do these parties where young parents bring their kids, ages one through nine," he says. "DJs play real dance music as well as children's music. It's amazing."
For the adults and childless among us, though, there's the return of his FiveSix label, now reborn as FiveSix Media, an all-digital platform for music as well as, say, film projects. For the roster, King has snapped up revolutionary but somewhat unsung artists, like next-level spoken-word powerhouse Ursula Rucker, and pro-skater-turned-axe-god Chuck Treece. He's especially excited about Power Douglas, a Brooklyn-based band he describes as "Sonic Youth meets Public Enemy."
And on his own music, King revisits the music of his teenage years — the lush, Anglo-style dream pop of acts like This Mortal Coil and the Cocteau Twins. That, and the original dance-rock hybrid acts on Manchester label Factory Records (home of New Order, for one). For a forthcoming album called Angels Dig the Tao, he puts his stamp on these classic vibes, and features vocalists he met through MySpace. "I'm trying to break out of 'King Britt,' what people expect," he says. "I'm taking that kind of sound into my world; I give it an extra sensuality. It's a little more soulful and slightly more danceable and a little less rocky, but you can still hear those influences."
For Saturday's DJ set at Shine, then, check all expectations at the door — except one to dance. "Miami's a little weird place, because a lot of times they expect just house," he says. "When I play next week, I'm trying to break out of that. You'll hear house, hip-hop ... you'll probably hear everything!"
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