If there are forces of fate at work in the world, Reggie Johnson, AKA Keeno18, knows all about them. The newcomer has one hell of a story to tell about his entry into the world of dance music. Back in Tampa, Florida, Johnson was on track for football stardom—four years on his high school varsity squad earned him a scholarship to play ball at the University of South Dakota, but after two years he lost his motivation and fell out of touch with the game. Along the way, fate drew Johnson to check out a Craigslist post advertising over 2000 dance records for sale from a well-known Detroit DJ, and Johnson quickly worked out a deal to take over the collection. While Johnson won't disclose the identity of the original owner, he tells us that the acquisition became his education in house and techno—and his motivation to start DJing and producing.
While attending Georgia State University in Atlanta, Johnson got in touch with Jimmy Edgar, the ex-Detroiter who founded the Ultramajic imprint. Edgar picked up Johnson's debut release, Channel 18, an EP of six deep, four-to-the-floor tracks that make inventive use of samples with slick and shuffling rhythms. Stream the first track "AJH" below, and read our interview with Johnson about the release and his transition from jock to jockey.
THUMP: Can you tell your history as a football player — did you have to give up football for DJing, or are you able to juggle both?
Keeno18: Football for me was huge part of my family and I was a bigger kid growing up, so it only seemed natural to play ball. It was decided in like elementary school that I was going to be a football player. I ended up getting a full ride scholarship to play in college ball in South Dakota. My second year in college I began to feel unmotivated so I walked away from my scholarship and transferred to Georgia State University. I made the team and began practicing but still didn't feel right. Not long after, Jimmy Edgar and I began contact on SoundCloud.
I heard you took over a massive record collection not too long ago from a well-known electro DJ in Detroit. Whose collection did it belong to, and how did you end up with it?
Yes I did. But I will not disclose his name out of respect of his privacy and the fact that he had a very mysterious nature. I think he would probably want it this way. But what I can say is that he went by a couple of different names and worked with well-known Detroit [artists]. He also insisted he helped coin the term "mash-up." He was known as a very technically skilled DJ and mixed vinyl with no headphones.
What was that experience like, and how did you listen to and process so much music so quickly? Do you remember the first record you listened to when you took over the collection?
It was cool to have a dope collection all at once. I actually got offered $3000 and a trip to California for the records and I declined only because I really thought these records were tight and I came up on something unique and special. These records seem to have had popped out of nowhere. A gift from the universe. I am still sorting and ripping the music, I act like I own a mini record shop.
I believe one of the first ones [I listened to] was DJ Assault's Sex on the Beach. The purple label on the record really resonated with me. I had seen the record on YouTube before so when I was scanning through them I spotted the record, threw that one on, and drifted off.
How did coming up on all of those records inspire you to start DJing?
There came a point in my life where I felt like I needed to slow down, sit and listen. I felt like the records gravitated towards me during a time when I needed them most. I view myself as a holographic focal point of energy, so I've always felt the need to transfer my energy into something that comes from me. I've always been impressed with the powers that the pioneers of house and techno display when they create music. This really inspired me to progress in the art and produce and DJ music that people can vibe to.