The boy from Birmingham, England, brings the beats to Las Vegas clubbers—while still letting the music breathe. It isn’t all about the “hands in the air” in electronic music, but the journey to how you get there. Based in New York but making the trek to Vegas for 15 dates this year, Carl Kennedy spins both supporting and headlining slots at Light. The DJ/producer and Wasted Youth radio host and label owner talks about bringing New York house to the Strip.
Didn’t you once spin at the infamous Limelight in New York back in the day?
I did, yeah! When I first came to New York, I managed to get the very end of the Limelight days. I think the last gig I did there was with Loco Dice. That seems forever ago now.
What’s your favorite memory from those days, and what do you think about the venue being turned into an IHOP?
[Laughs.] Is it an IHOP now? Just to play there was great. It was a spectacular venue and then they turned it into another club, then the next time I walked past it about 10 years later it was a mall. I refused to look at it! I couldn’t believe I was actually at a shopping mall! I was a little bit like, “OK, that’s just the way life is.” So now it’s an IHOP? Oh, my God.
You are originally from England but live in New York. How have the two influences shaped your sound?
I’ve traveled so much—I’m based in England, I’m based in New York, based in Sydney a lot—so I’ve played with a lot of people and played different things. I can only speak to how I feel now, and how I feel now is I’ve gone back to really driving what I really want to play.
I like to play house music, and it can be anything from tech house to uplifting progressive house to techno stuff. But I just go with what works in my sets. I search all over the place to find unique records rather than just shopping in the Beatport Top 10, which seems to really be a lot of what you hear, and I don’t want to be that kind of DJ. I want to find those gems that are out there, but you have to look for them.
You mention the Beatport Top 10—more and more people are bringing that up or complaining that’s all that’s mainly played in Vegas. Why should people come hear you over all the other DJs in town?
I like to play big tunes, but I like to take some different ones as well. But it seems in Vegas, the club owners just want it all “hands in the air,” Champagne flowing, and I felt a little bit pressured that you’ve got to kind of—not educate the people—but let things breathe a little as well. And that’s what I’m trying to do in my sets.
Will you bring a Wasted Youth party to Vegas?
I would love to. When we get to that stage, yes. I’m building the label now, and it’s enjoyable but it’s hard work like everyone else trying to do the same thing. I’m trying to build followers and the Wasted Youth brand.
Anything to listen for on the production front?
I’ve got lots of productions coming out. The last few years I seem to only put out one or two tracks, but I’m releasing one every month now. The newest is called “Like an Angel.” I have a track that’s already out called “All Systems Go,” featuring Cara Salimando. That’s what I’m pushing at the moment, and I’ve been playing it the last few months in Vegas as well.
You’ve got a lot of ink. Any music-related pieces?
No music ones, but they’re all from moments in my life, from the dragons on my arms, to my two kids on my arm, to my soccer team and the two women who have been there through the ups and downs and joys and tears in my life, and they just become part of the journey.