Even after a decade, François K's Deep Space party is still one of NYC's most forward thinking club nights around. Last month, in conjunction with the globe-trotting Dub Champions Festival, they helped showcase one of the most intriguing displays of future bass and dub music in recent memory. If you've followed Kevorkian's career you'll know that dub music has long been part of his core as an artist, and he still continues to flex his affinity for the sound.
Kevorkian was already making waves as an in-house producer and remixer in the mid 1970s, when his introduction to dub took his studio work to the next level. "I was in the studio all the time and started incorporating a lot of these sort of techniques and approaches to what I was doing as far as mixing—getting blown away by stuff like TW Funkmasters or many of the records by Jamaican musicians that had more of a disco vibe to it. I started incorporating a lot of that into my work and became known for it." François told me.
Mad Professor at Deep Space as part of the Dub Champions Festival
Many revered dub and reggae parties have disappeared across the United States (and especially NYC), with smaller-knit festivals like Dub Champions and nights like his own Deep Space and Brooklyn's Dub Stuy holding the torch as the utmost forums for dub vibes.
"If you play stuff that has a little more electronic flavor—they'll be touched by it—because many of the purist reggae nights in New York have all kind of withered away"
While Francois agrees that many of the biggest dub showcases are in the UK, France, or Germany—one can't deny that his party Deep Space is keeping the love for dub alive each and every Monday night at the West Village's intimate rave cave Cielo. "We wanted to provide a niche for something that is sensing or intuitively feeling what should be done. I hired event producer Erica Ruben along with our own staff, and wanted to be able to work in conjunction with someone like Cielo who had a friendly vibe, fantastic room and acoustics, and who gave us carte blanche to do whatever we wanted," said Kevorkian. While Cielo often finds itself as a haunt for big-room beats and a bottle (and model) centric crowd on most other nights, find yourself there on a Monday evening and you'll feel anything but exclusive. The Deep Space tagline probably says it best: "No dress code, just an open mind."
"Whenever you're up to something that shocks people you know you've got something good."
Francois and his team have never been afraid to feature something different in their programming. It ranges from newer, progressive artists to older industry icons. For Dub Champions, they featured a performance from innovator Mad Scientist and in coming weeks, avant-garde acts like David J and Thomas Dolby will grace their system. K told me about the time he brought UK dubstep progenitor Mala to Deep Space, an event that resulted in patrons swearing off the party and UK dubstep sounds, only to be followed by the return of Digital Mystikz (Mala + Coki) in 2014 as world-renowned figures, performing to a jam-packed crowd of dubstep lovers. "I try to always remain excited about stuff—and to me six or seven years ago that [dubstep] was really what was going on that was making a big difference, the sound coming out of the UK was so tremendous and powerful. Whenever you're up to something that shocks people you know you've got something good."
"The worst thing that can happen is indifference"
François and Mala at Deep Space
I asked Francois about the formula to Deep Space's success and how he goes around always presenting the most thought provoking sounds and acts, at the start of which was UK dubstep. "The worst thing that can happen in indifference…I didn't really think about it like a marketing plan but more was like 'wow this is great and I want to play more of it.' We were some of the first people to offer opportunities to these [dubstep] people to play and it kind of worked itself into a situation where there was no turning back….people slowly got to accept it so it felt great." Francois even identified with EDM mega-star Skrillex who he believes shares his technique for getting people out of their comfort zone, and accepting of unusual sounds: "I would say he [Skrillex]—even though he is questioned by dubstep purists— he did something really important which was to trigger the US crowd to those sounds, and make them accept them, he kind of took on his own level."
As a sixty-year old among a sea of tween DJ stars, Francois continues to offer the industry something different. On one side he takes cues from the current landscape—just this week Deep Space featured a set from Jamie XX testing out new material—while on the other hand, he's never been hesitant to push sounds or trends that are certainly past their prime. For him, it's all about presenting gems of the past, while also remaining aware of the future, in a way that's anything from pretentious.
"There's always been a segment of the population that portrays themselves as being the cream of the crop of intelligents—don't think about it too much, it's all about fun in the end." he told me.
David is an Associate Editor at THUMP in Brooklyn. @DLGarber