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King Britt, Dozia, Questlove and the Back2Basics family had a high-energy reunion at Hard Rock

DJ  PHSH, King Britt and Questlove | Photo by John Vettese
DJ PHSH, King Britt and Questlove | Photo by John Vettese

The first time I heard King Britt was over the sound system of the HMV on Walnut Street back in 2001. I knew of him via City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly stories about Back2Basics, the party he and DJ Dozia threw at Silk City (which I was never cool enough to attend). The song coming from the speakers was “Happiness” featuring Lady Alma, and it blew me away. I immediately walked over to the Dance section, found the album under his moniker of Sylk-130 titled Re-Members Only” and skimmed the track list and collaborators: Alison Moyet, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Kathy Sledge, Grover Washington Jr.

It was a love letter to sitting at home on a Saturday night and listening to stations like Power 99 who, back in the 80’s, would play everything from quiet storm to rap to Madonna. It’s an album that still is miles beyond most in capturing that time for listeners who missed out.

When I heard there was going to be a Back2Basics reunion, I was itching to go and finally experience what I never got a chance to back when the event was a regular thing. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: King Britt & Dozia’s Back2Basics at Hard Rock Cafe, Mercury Radio Theater at Ortlieb’s, Roof Doctor at Kung Fu Necktie

Photo via facebook.com/KingBrittFanPage
Photo via facebook.com/KingBrittFanPage

King Britt & Dozia’s Back2Basic’s Reunion takes place tonight at Hard Rock Cafe. A revival of the legendary Philly nightclub night, the event hosts both live musicians as well as DJs, allowing for a genre-bending night of frenzy. Started in 1990, the event hosted names like ?uestlove, James Poyser and more. The man behind the project is Britt, who was also a part of the venerable Digable Planets and other projects. In his interview with the Key’s Sameer Rao, Britt explained the motivation behind the reunion as “We thought it would be good to do this as a reunion, but also as a reminder that this [mixing different genres] is possible”. He then went on to emphasize that the event is “not just partying…it’s existential.”  Check out this video of King Britt and The Back 2 Basics Band perform live at Silk City below. Get more details about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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King Britt and co. reign supreme at Friday’s Back2Basics reunion

King Britt
via facebook.com/KingBrittFanPage

Let’s get something out of the way: it’s really easy to make plays on King Britt’s name. The king is back! Long live the king! Even the title of this piece was painstakingly chosen after a lot of agony over what would be slightly witty without being superfluously cheesy (you can argue about whether or not this was successful in the comments).

Still, the man whose official documents read “King James Britt” has left a legacy for which such comical proclamations are actually quite accurate. For over two decades, the 40-something DJ and Philly native has commanded a tiny kingdom of rabid followers through a variety of beloved and critically lauded endeavors. For these fans, which endeavor they care about the most says a tremendous amount about who they are. Perhaps they were drawn to Britt’s multi-year tenure with the bi-costal hip-hop institution Digable Planets, where his genre-mixing aesthetic slant sat effortlessly with the Plantes’ Afro-centric, laid-back brand of quiet innovation.

Some might’ve instead been captivated by Britt’s unquenchable experimental and avant garde tendencies, manifest in numerous groundbreaking and headscratchingly trippy side projects;  these projects have propelled him to a very different kind of recognition, garnering him Pew and NEA grants and putting him on stage at places like TEDxPhilly and the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Continue reading →

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Stream King Britt’s new Fhloston Paradigm album, The Phoenix

Photo by John Kaufman
Photo by John Kaufman

Pitchfork Advance is streaming King Britt’s new Fhloston Paradigm album, The Phoenix. Drawing inspiration from his love of science fiction movies like Blade Runner and The Fifth Element (where the name of the project comes from), Sun Ra, funk, and Afrofuturism, Britt has created a soundtrack to an imaginary motion picture, filled with moody, synthesized soundscapes, with contributions by Marlo Reynolds, and vocalists Rachel Claudio, Pia Ercole, and Natasha Kmeto.

Listen to The Phoenix here.

In other King Britt/Fhloston Paradigm news, listen to their contribution to the new Red Hot + Bach album below. Featuring classical vocalist Pia Ercole, they perform “Ave Maria” and was inspired by the late Sixties Moog synth collection of Bach compositions Switched On Bach, by Wendy Carlos.

King Britt performs at Union Transfer on July 12th with Nightmares On Wax and on July 14th at Johnny Brenda’s.

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A tribute to Sun Ra, curated by King Britt and Kate Watson-Wallace featuring Vernon Reid and Tendai Maraire of Shabazz Palaces

A tribute to the jazz musician Sun Ra curated by King Britt and choreographer/visual artist Kate Watson-Wallace will take place at Fringe Arts on Friday, June 6. The event is a live improvisational “re-contextualization” of Sun Ra’s music featuring Tendai Maraire of Shabazz Palaces on percussion, Vernon Reid of Living Color on guitar, King Britt on beats and electronics, Anthony Tidd on bass, vocalist Imani Izuri, and Marlo Reynolds on keyboards. Live video will be provided by Jason Senk and “movement” by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko of Philadiction Movement. The event, says King Britt, is the first of several that “music/multidimensional events” that the Fringe is presenting in its new space.

The jazz musician, originally from Birmingham, Alabama, relocated to the Germantown section of Philadelphia in 1968 where he resided until his death in 1993. King Britt came up with the idea of a tribute to Sun Ra since it was close to Sun Ra’s birthday. “I suggested we do a tribute to him by creating a beautiful ensemble of music, video and dance,” Britt told me in an e-mail. “Everyone involved has been touched by Ra and his legacy. Sun Ra always embraced the art of improvisation within a construct of his compositions. He also embraced technology and used it in a way that propelled the music to new places.”

“We felt that everyone involved would be comfortable in this context and non obvious samples and loops, from some of Sun Ra’s improvs, will steer the direction of the journey,” said Britt. “Everyone involved, including video, which will be mixed live, are all very good improvisors and it will be a one time only experience. This is event is important because it will bridge the gap between generations. A lot of the older Sun Ra fans will love to witness a new spin on his legacy and the young fans who have come to know Sonny, through samples, hip hop and alternative music, will get to learn a bit of the history through multidisciplinary lenses.”

Go here for tickets and more information about the show. Below, check out a documentary about Sun Ra by film maker Robert Mugge, A Joyful Noise.

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King Britt, Dave P and Cosmo Baker are DJ’ing KAWS at PAFA event this Friday, October 11th

KAWS
KAWS

A new exhibition is opening at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts this Friday, October 12th, featuring the work of KAWS – an artist and designer Philadelphians will recognize from his Companion (Passing Through) installation in 30th Street Station this spring.

KAWS @ PAFA features both indoor and outdoor works including a new 9-foot sculpture outside and over 60 paintings and sculptures installed in the galleries of the PAFA. The opening reception and preview party is this Friday. October 11th at 8 p.m. at Lenfest Plaza at PAFA. Providing the soundtrack for the event are King Britt, Dave P. of Making Time and Cosmo Baker. Go here for tickets and more information. Below, sample a taste of Cosmo Baker’s Top Ten mix.

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Download of the Moment: King Britt’s Sexytech Mix #1

artworks-000056049926-xjqnsy-t500x500A cool sonic treat showed up care of King Britt this weekend; his new Sexytech Mix #1a 71-minute continuous mix of swift beats, keyboard loops, alluring hooks and smooth vibes galore. It’s “the first in my series of sexy techno faves that I have come to love,” King writes. “No tracklistings…just listening…..” And while the no-tracklisting element comes to the dismay of some Soundcloud commenters – these are evidently some deep deep tracks here, reworked and blended imaginatively as only King Britt can – it is a perfect collection to switch on and zone out. Listen to Sexytech Mix #1 below, download it over at Soundcloud.

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Mayer Hawthorne and King Britt doing DJ sets at Hard Rock Philly this Saturday night, August 3

hawthorneDJ Mayer Hawthorne and King Britt are doing DJ sets at the Hard Rock Cafe this Saturday night, August 3rd. Hawthorne plays at Musikfest this Saturday and will headline Union Transfer on September 10. This Friday night, August 2nd, King Britt will be “re-contextualizing” the classic film, The Brother From Another Planet, in collaboration with the Blackstar Film Festival. Go here for more information about the event at Johnny Brenda’s.

Go here for tickets to dance the night away with King Britt and Mayer Hawthorne.

Below, listen to and download Hawthorne’s classic soul mix.

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King Britt performs at Frankford Historical Society tonight for Hidden City Festival

KING BRITT by King TexasPhilly DJ and electronic producer King Britt will perform at the Hidden City Philly Festival tomorrow, putting on an original, live, experimental electronic show as part of the Heritage Electronics Concert.

Hidden City Philly is an organization created to discover, remember, and celebrate the forgotten historical gems of our city. Their six-week long festival is chock-full of events, and for Friday’s soundtrack, Hidden City paired with local electronic record label/events producer/journal/all around cool organization Data Garden to present this concert at the Frankford Historical Society in Northeast Philly. Heritage Electronics will be a visual installation mixing history, music, technology, and location.

King Britt will use sounds recorded on site at the Frankford Historical Society and sample them into his performance – anything from ambient noise to vintage instruments. His eclectic style and combination of sounds from different cultures and time periods is a perfect pairing to both the visions of Hidden City Philly and Data Garden. The museum, not only a venue for the show, is both a Hidden City exhibit and a integral part of the musical performance itself.

A Philly native whose performances and music projects have taken him all around the world, King Britt is best known for putting contemporary twists and compositions on older and historical pieces. He began DJing around Philadelphia in 1990, and later went on to tour with Digable Planets, produce music under the Sylk 130 Collective, and even score commercials for L’Oreal and Rolex. His work has been featured in TV shows like Miami Vice and True Blood, he’s played festivals such as Camp Bisco and Glastonbury, and will tour Electronic music mecca Ibiza this summer.

King Britt’s set at the Heritage Electronics show is part of a Data Garden concert series titled A/V Archaeology, that will be held through the month of June at the Frankford Historical Society.Heritage Electronics

Other performers that night include Charles Cohen and a collaboration between Laura Baird, Dino Lionetti, and Gretchen Lohse. Synthesizer  and Nintendo visuals will be provided by No Carrier, while Daniel Rehn will create “curated video” with 140-character snippets of early internet text. Sounds cool, right?

It’s all live, experimental, and a unique medley of visual and auditory, both digital and antique. This past-meets-present performance is not something you want to miss.

King Britt @ Heritage Electronics
Friday, May 31 7-10 p.m.
Frankford Historical Society
1507 Orthodox St
Philadelphia, PA 19124
Tickets ($15)

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Free Download of the Moment: Arc In Round’s ::::remixed::::

AIRLocal folks including Ape School, Tadoma and King Britt – as well as outside-Philly names Benoît Pioulard and Lymbyc System – tried their hand at remixing Arc In Round‘s layered and heavy debut LP in the new ::::remixed:::: collection, available today as a free download. The set contains eight reconstructions of songs like “Spirit” (morphed into a driving krautrock rager by Pink Skull) and “II” (made all pulsing and dreamy by A Sunny Day in Glasgow), as well as two unreleased songs – “Even” and “Days Untried.” Give it a listen below, and download it at Bandcamp.