Nov 09, 2021

Get To Know: Kebi

 
Today we're joined by Kebi for a deep dive into his background, and how he's used the pandemic to relocate to Tulum and refocus on music production. He has a positive take on life, which shines through in our interview, and shares lots of details about everything going on in his world!  
 
Hey Kebi, thanks so much for joining us today! To start off, can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about your background in music production and DJing?
Hi! Thanks so much for having me! I’ve been a big fan of 1001Tracklists for a long time so this is epic to be sitting here with you today.
 
Well, to start off, my name is Kevin, and I perform and make music under the name Kebi. I have been DJing for about 15 years now, and producing for a long time as well but just recently really got back into the production side of things. I started my DJ career off playing high school parties and ended up in Florida for a few years playing shows and "attending" school haha. After a few years down there, I moved back to New York and enrolled at the DubSpot Music Academy (a school where I actually wanted to go and learn) in order to further dive into the world of electronic music.
 
After some time in the city, my cravings of mother nature were feeling super apparent, so I trusted my intuition and moved to Colorado in order to snowboard and take some time off from music. This led me to Aspen, where eventually I realized that there was a need for some good funky music around town. This is kinda where everything began again for me in a sense.
 
I started playing clubs and events and within a short amount of time I was super blessed with the opportunity of playing some of the biggest parties and holding residencies at some of the coolest spots around town! It was amazing to help redefine the music scene in such a small yet international ski town. All the while getting to snowboard everyday : )
 
When the world shut down in March 2020, I kinda just moved to Tulum, Mexico on a whim. This most recent chapter is really where the Kebi project began to organically develop.
 
 
How long have you been working on the Kebi project and what have been some of the defining moments in your career?
The Kebi project started in April 2021, not long after moving to Mexico. Feeling super inspired by the jungle and nature, I felt that it was time to shift my focus from DJing more to production in order to keep expanding and expressing myself in the most authentic way possible.
 
So far some of the highlights have to include my summer residency at Tekio Beach Club and my recent Back to the Roots tour. Those two weeks of touring were really special since it was the first time being back in Colorado in a while. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many special friends and all of the love.
 
The ultimate highlight for me though has to be the development of Sunday Café Records and the personal relationship I had the pleasure of developing with Downtown Tulum Radio while curating this idea. Those guys are seriously the best. Shout out to Miketrix and Omar Labastida!!!! Love you both so much!
 
What sounds does Kebi represent today both as a DJ and as a producer? Are there any major inspirations and influences on that sound?
Kebi represents authentic expression which lives outside of all boxes and labels. In a lot of ways I sense a greater connection to the spiritual side of this existence rather than the physical human side, so I feel that part of my purpose in this lifetime is to share frequency and almost act as a bridge that can help other people tap into this presence as well. Kebi represents joy, harmony, balance, authenticity, connection to self and connection to nature. Kebi represents love without labels, and love without any particular reason. Kebi represents acceptance, and the oneness of all existence.
 
All inspiration comes from The Universe itself, I simply remain as open as possible to be a colorful channel of this divine energy. No music I make actually belongs to me, I was simply blessed enough to be the vessel that the universe chose to express itself through in that moment : )
 
Some of the musical influences that have been a major part of my journey include house, Afro, Latin, Brazil, disco, reggae, funk, gospel & chill.
 
 
Let's dive into your latest releases, starting with the just released "Home On The Horizon." This one has a really soothing vocal. Can you tell us about how you built the production and integrated the vocal? 
Thanks for the kind words! The production happened first which is normally how it goes for me, then when I don’t know what else to add that’s when I add a vocal top line haha. 
 
Honestly, the melody is definitely influenced by songs I used to sing in church, like "Amazing Grace." Whenever coming up with melodies I always seem to connect to that more feely side of life, no matter how dancey the track may be haha. 
 
Lyrically I remember writing the words once I had the melody and was actually thinking back to a time before Covid when the world wasn’t so divided over mandates and vaccines and public opinion. But then as I was thinking this, I felt this wave of acceptance come over me and thought, "Wow, everything is absolutely perfect! Right now, everything is perfect and exactly how it is supposed to be." 
 
Funny enough, simultaneously as I was thinking this thought, I felt a rush of inspiration from my friend Lo who had just actually passed away about 24 hours prior. The home that I initially started singing about was a physical time period before this division, but by the time i finished writing the 2 or 3 lines or whatever, the whole script had been flipped, and "home" was now referring to the universal connectedness of us all, the place where we came from before being physically here and the place we are all heading to once we physically leave this planet and these bodies. "Home" is always here, it’s a presence, a wonderful cosmic energy that encompasses this entire existence, yet at times of dilemma and world controversy its comfort can feel fleeting and eventually feel almost absent entirely, especially on a societal level. 
 
This song is a reminder to myself and to everyone else that we can all actually go to that spiritual place any time we wish, no matter how long it may have been since we have last been there. Through song, through meditation, through chant, through dance, through prayer, through love, through authentic self expression of any sort : )
 
 
This month you also released "Embrace The Space," which is a housier track with piano and brass elements. Where did the idea from this one come from and what was it like working on the production?
Yeah! So the inspiration behind this track actually came from a class I was taking at the time by this guy named Michael Beckwith, all about surrendering to this "God" space that is within us and around us at all times.
 
I wrote the initial track with almost like a Boombox feel in mind (I’ve been a huge fan of Boombox for years), and originally I had a sample in it of Michael Beckwith talking some crazy shit about the universe and what not. I ended up reaching out to Michael Beckwith and his team to get approval for the sample, and they never got back to me. So I reached out again, saying "I love his (Michael’s) teachings so much, I am even enrolled in his online class, please respond to this email, it would mean so much to me, blah blah blah." Still no response… I was feeling a little anxious (as the song had already been signed to a label) and this is when I opened Instagram and on my main page was this random kid named Justin Copeland ripping some trumpet with a super old style jazz band! I think in France? Naturally, in the spur of the moment, I did what any kid would do in this day and age, and slid into his DMs. I told him I had a track and thought it could use some of that trumpet swag, and he was more than willing to jump on the production! He literally did one take and sent me back the stems, I added the trumpet, removed the original vocal sample, and voila! "Embrace The Space" had been re-born into something better than I could have ever imagined!
 
I share that story just to highlight how cool the universe can act in hidden ways at times. Here I was learning about the universe itself from this spiritual master who wasn’t responding to my emails, leading to the stress arising within myself, when in the end the universe just had a different (better) plan for everything! We can always have an end goal or specific intention in mind, but we gotta remain open to any result as well as any series of events leading to that particular result, with trust that it will turn out better than we can ever imagine :) And this applies to all of life! Which is seriously so exciting! Just talking about it has me jazzed haha.
 
 
While quarantine and Covid life have been very tough, we’ve found a lot of positives bubbling beneath the surface. Besides the above that we’ve discussed, what were some of your highlights over the past year and a half?
I think that Covid has been a tremendous doorway to a new way of relating to this human experience. For me personally, some of those highlights include a new sense of present moment possibilities, and the awareness of how unstable this world we live in actually is. It brought me to Tulum, Mexico, where I fell in love with a culture and people that I will remain close with for the rest of my life. It inspired me to curate love and connection through music and vibration. It brought me closer to my sense of self, and as well has led to a tremendous amount of special time spent with family. Above all, it’s directed me towards moving beyond the world of duality in such changing times. Beyond the world of boxes and opinions and prior concepts that have been labeled as "concrete." Nature will always respond in crazy ways when we as a collective are out of touch with the overall balance of life, and at the end of the day I feel so blessed to be alive during such changing and awakening times! Everyday is truly a new journey into the unknown!
 
Professionally speaking, all the stuff I mentioned earlier about Sunday Cafe and Tulum and the recent tour have been a result of Covid. It’s allowed me to spend thousands of hours developing a new sound and genre that I'm starting to feel super connected to : )
 
What are a few goals that you still hope to accomplish in your career as Kebi?
I am excited to play shows around the world, and spread love and curate an open space of vibration for self expression and love and connection. I have goals of starting back up the Sunday Cafe Radio show one day, and having that be the standard family radio station every Sunday afternoon around the world. I have dreams of opening a creative space on a lake in the middle of the woods somewhere, where there are music studios in treehouses and vegetables are grown on the property and animals are running around and every day starts with a morning wake skate session on the glassy lake waters. This space will be a place for healing and creative expansion, providing both kids and adults with an opportunity to get in touch with their deepest self while connecting to nature and having fun creating art. Maybe also a puppy foster center? We’ll see how it all comes together :) I also have dreams of winning a Grammy, maybe writing a book, maybe having kids of my own one day, being a judge on The Voice or America’s Got Talent. The Voice would be dope, but honestly I have no singing or professional knowledge whatsoever in that category, so the chances may be slim, but hey anything can happen. I would definitely legitimately cry though every time I had to eliminate someone. Just watching those shows in the living room with my mom is an emotional roller coaster.
 
 
And as we look ahead to the rest of 2021, what’s keeping you motivated and excited on a daily basis and what are a few big dates on your calendar that you have circled?
Right now at this particular moment, Sunday Cafe Records has been the source of inspiration and motivation. Just learning about the whole label side of things has been a really fun process, and I'm excited to be planting some seeds for some super cool upcoming projects!
 
On a daily basis, having people and mentors to connect with in regards to music and production is absolutely key for my sanity and my growth. Timbhai from Sync.Records has been an amazing asset in my journey, both professionally and as a friend. Aslo the whole gang over in Colorado with New Something Records has been a pleasure working with recently.
 
Daily meditation is also key. Actually, it’s meditation that is definitely the most key thing for me and is the foundation of my daily motivation and creativity :) Also eating plants and surrounding myself with good people.
 
As far as upcoming shows, I am super stoked to play the New Year’s Pool Party at the Bahia Mar Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale in a few months. It's going to be a super fun time and a proper way to boogie in the new year :) There is also some planning for a monthly Sunday Cafe residency to start popping up in various locations as well as a cool merch line, so I’m super stoked to see how all that comes to fruition! Yet with all that being said, I am most grateful to be right here, right now. Thanks so much for having me on and all of the wonderful questions! Was an absolute pleasure and I look forward to chatting again sometime :)
 
Connect with Kebi: Spotify | SoundCloud | Instagram
short link 1001.tl/8qvhtl
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