written by Rupture; interview by Ushka
Dutty Artz welcomes our latest member, Phillip Allen aka ‘Selecta K7’. I first met Phillip back in 2009 when he invited me to perform in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In a blur of touring and gigs, I remember that one clearly because it was great — first off, Phillip had arranged for me to give a talk & DJ demonstration one day, and the next evening was the party. I didn’t have high expectations for the party (Chattanooga simply wasn’t on my radar) but it was a slamming, hands-in-the-air evening of open-minded fans and dancers who were seriously up for it. Whhhaatttt?
Preceding the gig with a talk was also sweet — it’s never just the sounds or the just the party, so to have an opportunity to take stock of what I was doing with my DJing those days, why and share it with a curious public was refreshing. Music is a doorway to walk through; talking about it can be as important as dancing to it or making it or playing it. And all too often you arrive in a town early evening, head straight to backstage or soundcheck, and take off the next morning. There are a couple of countries like that — I’ve played Poland, but have I ever hung out there in daylight? Nope…
Anyhow, the thing about small cities is that it only takes one person to crack things open. Individuals can have a huge positive impact on the culture scene. Phillip was doing that for Chattanooga. Unbeknownst to him, a few people came up to me over the course of my time there and were like ‘yo, thanks to Phillip I learned about what you do’.
Now of course, the brother has left Tennessee and come to New Yawk, which is Chatt’s loss and our gang’s gain. Honestly, I think creative visionaries should stay out of this navel-gazing city — why entertain the rich & coddled? why burn your time to make rent? artist dreams devalue so rapidly in these boroughs — and focus on weirding up the rest of the country… but he’s here and so am I, so I’m glad. I’m very curious to see what he gets up to here and you should be too…
For starters, catch his next NYC gig at the ACE Hotel this coming Monday, September 29th with the Modern Primitive DJs starting 8PM.
(Sidenote the name ‘K7’ makes me think of buying black afro-cosmpolitan music in Paris, K7 being a homophone for ‘cassette’ in French, so I dig it.)
By way of letting Phillip intro himself, Ushka did a short interview with him to find out what he thinks of the metropolis and what kind of trouble he’s been getting himself into:
Ushka: Phillip it’s been so nice having you here in New York and having a buddy to run all around the city with to all sorts of events. I know you moved from Chattanooga about 7 months ago. Tell us about your move. What brought you to New York? How do you like it so far?
K7: I’ve received such a warm welcome; it’s really been a confirmation that I’m in the right place. Every day I leave the house I want to channel my inner Drake and scream “WE MADE IT!”
When I was that weird black kid listening to UK Jungle in Memphis, I made a list of culturally open places I could thrive. NYC was number 1. I dedicated the next 15 years preparing for the time I could peace out. The narrative still exists that as a Southern African-American, the North equals freedom.
I moved to East Tennessee for college and worked on bringing different sounds to the region. I had a great creative fam there, but New York kept calling me. The turning point was when I stayed at the wellspring of talent and inspiration that is Geko Jones crib in 2012. I got back to Tennessee and the location-based depression returned and I knew I only had 1 more year of the South left in me.
Now I’m here; I’m dealing with G delays, gangster ass rats, but also surrounded by talented people and amazing music.
Ushka: You threw a lot of global bass music events, including lectures and talks in Chattanooga. Tell us about them. What inspired you and how were they received?
K7: Around 2008, Chattanooga began to undergo a “creative revival” that led the city to investing in the Arts. There was a non-profit, CreateHere, that would award grants to individuals with progressive ideas. I couldn’t move to New York at the time so I said what the hell, applied, and was awarded a project grant in ‘09.
My goal was to create a sustainable, diverse, and educated music scene by inviting guest DJs to have a discussion before a party. In the context of the South, I felt uncomfortable just being like “WELL GUYS HERE’S BAILE FUNK or HERE’S CUMBIA. ENJOY!” I wanted people to actually understand the culture at work behind the music, not just consume it.
Oddly enough, the events were extremely well received. I ended up booking DJ /rupture, Poirier, Daz I-Kue (from UK collective Bugz in the Attic), DJ Moni, and Sabo. The most taxing part was dealing with the behind the scenes production (venue selection, catering, and sound system rental, etc). It was all worth it when someone would approach us after an event and say they never expected to hear the music we’re spinning in the States let alone the South.
Ushka: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done in New York so far?
K7: Actually, I think New York is pretty normal, at least by my standards. Everything I’ve done here makes sense. What’s REALLY weird to me was living next to a guy with a stuffed deer head and Confederate Flag on the wall and a penchant for Rick Ross.
I did eat Alligator a few months ago…
Ushka: Any dutty planz for New York now that you’re an official DA member?
K7: Looking forward to collaborating whenever I can with other Dutty Artz fam. I would definitely LOVE to continue the discussion/party series. Get ready for more DA bloggin’ action, mixtapes, K7 productions & continued sleep deprivation.
There you have it. There’s a couple of ideas brewing for the Fall and with Phillip (and new member Riobamba) on the team, keep your ears perked.
To hear some of Selecta K7’s sounds, check out his iBomba live set from the first fam party he played after moving here last year: