Since their recent comeback, promoters Audio Damiana have had a string of well curated underground international bookings ranging from Apollonia's Shonky to minimal house veteran Nicolas Lutz. Their last party was on an abandoned ship on the Nile and included American DJ Kim Ann Foxman. She makes regular appearances at Berlin’s Panorama Bar and holds a residency in Brooklyn’s Good Room. We immediately felt her radiant energy, as did the whole boat as soon as she took to the decks. Little did we know, after this chat this DJ turned out to be one of the most diverse and dynamic acts we’ve heard in the country to date.
SceneNoise’s Hatem El Chiati and Zeyad Gohary had a little chat on the abandoned ship on the Nile with DJ/Producer Kim Ann Foxman just before her set at Audio Damiana. We discussed the aesthetics of music, her thoughts on the industry and what it’s like to be a superhero posing as a fox.
Chiati: Hey Kim, so have you ever heard of our tiny house scene?
Kim: I hadn’t heard much about it until I saw that some of my friends had played here last year, like Mike Servito and Heidi. Then I was like “oh that sounds rad... I wanna go!”
Chiati: When producing music, do you ever feel a creative block?
Kim: Yes I do, but I think there are different ways to get out of it. Sometimes, it’s better not to force it and just give it a rest. If you stop and listen to other music, and just take yourself out of your element, you come back with fresh ears. Other times, I strip everything back and if I get the feeling that an element is just okay and not awesome, I immediately throw it away. I can also just experiment and take things somewhere else than I had originally intended.
Chiati: So how do you draw the line between okay and awesome, or better yet what defines what works and what doesn’t?
Kim: I think by soloing channels and adding things slowly you find out what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, I make something that I’m really into at the time and then later I don’t really feel it as much.
Chiati: Could you place your finger on how you get your inspiration?
Kim: I think a lot of my inspiration comes from a certain era of my life which were my rave days in San Francisco. I started in Hawaii then moved to San Francisco around 1995, which is when I started digging for records and collecting them. I was inspired by a lot of what was happening at the time.
Chiati: Do you think that by sitting on things as you previously mentioned you can sometimes get stuck in the loop, and constantly keep editing small details while never really finishing anything?
Kim: Yes, that can also happen haha. I think a lot of people have that problem too, but that’s why I think it's essential to keep experimenting and break yourself out of the loop if need be by doing little things you enjoy that can snap you out it. Other times though, it can be all about that loop acting as the foundation of the track. Come to think of it, that’s usually the case in electronic music. Another method I enjoy is throwing in a lot of stuff and then starting to erase things as I go. Deleting and subtracting are really important, because people get really glued to their ideas and its important to sacrifice things in order to get reach the “best” possible outcome of your art.
Chiati: Have you heard about Resident Advisor cancelling their poll? How do you think this will affect the scene?
Kim: I’m glad it’s gone, that poll was whack, it had the same people on it and never let any new ones in. It also sways everyone's minds that don’t really know what they like yet, and they just hear a name and think because they’ve heard it then that's what's good but they don’t actually know what they’re talking bout. It’s like a closed club with not enough women or people of color and definitely not enough variety.
No fresh voices are given a chance, and I’m not dissing any DJs because I don’t even know who’s on it and I don’t follow them. I’m a person who roots for the underdog because I find that often when you become very big, you start to stop really digging and just play the stuff everyone wants to hear, and it stops inspiring.
Chiati: How do you think this poll affects the scene?
Kim: It really affects people’s chances to break out, it affects newcomers and it affects the DJs on the list’s income positively and smaller DJs negatively.
Zeyad: You touched on something important earlier. While I was living in New York I felt that women were underrepresented there, yet ironically female DJs are continuously featured in our events here in Egypt. Considering you’ve been booked to play in a Middle Eastern country, how do you feel about that?
Kim: I think it’s good that there’s a lot of support for that, hopefully soon it won’t be about being a woman, but just about being a good DJ. We shouldn’t make such a big deal about it, although it has been unfair for women, so right now we do need to fight for it. It’s great that there’s a big movement, and that people are being really supportive about it. I find that crowds who aren’t used to seeing that very much are really refreshed by it. Foremost, it’s about music content, but also about women not being given the chance to play or get headlining slots, and not being paid the same fees. But honestly the situation has become much better since I started playing about 10 years ago.
Chiati: When you’re producing, do you often feel a clear emotion being expressed or is it more of an abstract release of energy?
Kim: I always play with emotion, and I find that many people don’t incorporate that anymore. So when another DJ or producer does, it impresses me and shows me that they’re not just on auto mode and making music or playing tracks that everyone does. For me, I want to take people on a journey and give them an experience; and a lot of that is based on experiences that I’ve had that have inspired me. I want to share that with people and try to show them a bit of my background, where I grew up, and who I am.
Chiati: So, do you have any idea what you’re going to play tonight?
Kim: Not exactly because I don’t plan it, but I feel it out and I take it from there. I mean I have an idea of what I like to play at the moment, but I never really know what I’m going to start with or anything, so we’ll see what happens.
Chiati: Excited to hear your set, and thanks for chatting with us!
Kim: No problem! I mean who gets to have an interview on a boat in the Nile? That was cool!
Check out Kim's Facebook page here
Photography by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions
Photographer: Bashar Galal