Spotlight On: Kai Alce
Photo by Marie Staggat
For over 20 years, Kai Alce has been organically growing Atlanta’s electronic dance music scene throwing some of the city’s hottest dance events and showcasing local talent on his label NDATL. With Detroit roots and spending some years in New York, Kai’s sonic flavor is a blend of all three scenes with a heavy emphasis on soulful house beats. We caught up with The Kaiser to talk about his label, talent in Atlanta, and discuss the popular Atlanta music festival he helped create, House In the Park, celebrating 13 years this upcoming Labor Day weekend.
Robotic Peacock: Tell me about your nickname “The Kaiser.” How did you get that nickname?
Kai Alce: A girlfriend gave me the nickname after Keyser Soze, after watching the movie Usual Suspects and the name just kind of stuck.
This was the 9th year of your annual Deep Detroit party during Movement –tell us about the concept behind the party?
Initially it started out as a Music Institute reunion party. The very first one was supposed to be me, Chez Damier and Alton Miller. Unfortunately Alton couldn’t do it so Andres ended up playing and I just tried to keep the tradition afterwards. Eventually we got to do one with Chez and Alton. We did it at 1515, which was a place that held a lot of the parties once the music institute closed down in ’89 so there was some real history there. I got the blessing from Derrick and Chez to throw the party and it just happened real natural.
Nice! And you release an exclusive 45 every year during the party, right? How did that tradition begin?
Yeah I think the first year we had a remix Andres did for me and the release had come out around the party so I had them for sale at the event but for the second year of the party I had Larry and Theo on the party and I thought as a novelty I would make a 45 to sell during the show. It had a track by me, one by Larry and one by Theo and Kenny (Moodymann) and after we did it, it kind of caught on like fire. Next thing we know people are trying to sell it for like $100 days after came out. After that I was like, “Ok let me just keep this as a tradition,” so every year since I’ve tried to have a release for the party by the DJs that were playing the party.
So tell us about this year’s release
This year’s release has a track by me, Patrice Scott and Galcher Lustwerk – one of them I featured at the festival. It has a bonus track on there – which I’m just letting people figure that out when they get it J
Let’s talk about your record label – NDATL – your tagline is, “Life’s Good After a Session.” Explain to our readers what that means.
Whatever you’re doing – for example, a producer wrapping up a song – life is good. It could be if you’re a painter /artist etc. – whatever that session is that you’re working on, when you get it done or complete that project –you feel good after you accomplish it.
You’ve lived in ATL for about 20 years – how has living there influenced your sound?
When I first got to Atlanta I didn’t really have a history of dance music so once I decided to get out here and make sure there was a house presence in ATL. I had to figure out a way to make it palatable to those that had never heard it before and still maintain what I wanted to get across while finding something everyone could relate to.
So how’s the scene changed since you’ve been there?
It’s grown a lot – it’s had its ups and downs and right now it’s definitely on an upswing – we’ve got a lot of new energy interested in the sound, which is great. It’s been great for me because I was one of the first pioneers down here in ATL so it’s been a good place for me.
Who are some of the up and coming producers in ATL we should be jamming to this summer?
Stefan Ringer – released on PPU and my label NDATL
Byron the Aquarius (Alabama) – just released on Sound Signature /Wild Oats
Another record label in ATL- called CGI Records and they do more metro-techno stuff that’s really good
Fit of Body – does a retro thing making stuff on tapes and cassettes
Those are the cats that are giving me energy and I give them energy.
Tell us about your upcoming big annual dance music festival in Atlanta, House in the Park?
My friend Ramone is the brainchild of House in the Park and we started it together. It started off really small with only about 200 people attending and we’ve literally doubled the amount of people every year. Now we’re in our 13th year and the party attracts thousands of people – we’re at about 10-15k now. The party starts Thursday and goes through Sunday during memorial day weekend.
Any new/forthcoming releases our readers should know about?
12” from Kayenne – vocalist out now
Another 12” from me is forthcoming as well as a 12” from Norm Talley and Vince Halliburton.