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He’s had about a dozen #1 House hits in the last 4 years alone; thirty or forty tracks reaching the top ten. His remix of Lou Rawls’ classic “You’ll Never Find” was so damn good Frankie Knuckles asked to put his name on the project because as he said, “This record is too important not be heard,” and 2 years later it is still the most anticipated house music release in the past decade (the remix comes out this year on Sony, and will be available on vinyl). His remix of Boz Scaggs “Dirty Lowdown” practically changed the face of NuDisco and all but redefined the genre on Traxsource. His record label is releasing a legit Paradise Garage compilation this year, he’s remixed tracks for legends like Louie Vega and Terrence Parker, and has done work for tons of labels including Defected, Classic, and even Atlantic Records. He is presently working on a duo project called PROPER with house music’s most accomplished producer, Eric Kupper. And after living in Los Angeles for only a few years, he is opening his own nightclub. So who are we talking about? With credentials like that, you’d think his name would come to mind immediately.
We’re talking about Kenny Summit, owner/operator of Good For You Records, one of House music’s most active producers and soon to be club owner of Cure And The Cause opening in Los Angeles on March 5th. Music4Lovers had a nice back and forth with Kenny and we touched on everything from what he really thinks of LA nightlife to his deep respect for the local talent in the City Of Angels, which he now calls home.
Interview with Kenny
You’ve been in Los Angeles for about four years now, what it is it about this city that made you interested in opening a venue?
I’ve been a part of almost a half dozen nightclub projects during my time living in NYC; as a partner on one level or another, mostly on the talent booking/resident DJ side of things. I was very fortunate, lucky even, and was able to work with really amazing people, some of the forefathers of the New York City nightclub scene, from Mel Cherin who was a dear friend and somewhat of a mentor to David Sarner and John Blair who were both involved with the original Studio 54. When I left NYC I told myself “No more nightclubs! It’s time to focus on my record label and work on refining my production abilities.” When I first arrived in LA I went out to a few bars and clubs and instantly realized there are few venues being properly run and none dedicated to proper house music. Loads of clubs are putting money into portraying the image that they’re “all about House,” but when you’re charging $18 for a Long Island Iced Tea, you’re in it for the money. On the other hand, there are so many great underground warehouse events going on each and every weekend in L.A., it somehow balances out the lack of quality dance clubs in this city. But yeah, I think that very first night I went out in L.A., I made the decision that one day soon I would open a proper house music venue.
You seem to have a good following with your fans (literally) all over the world. What do you think of the “House Heads” of Los Angeles?
Awesome! Driving cross country with a uHaul filled with my worldly possessions, I had reoccurring thoughts like “what the hell am I doing leaving NYC to go to L.A.?” “I don’t know many people in L.A., what if they don’t dig my music. What if the house scene is nothing like NYC?” -Basically a lot of self-doubt was going on in my head, but once I unpacked and settled in, I quickly made friends and began to explore the vast underground House scene that L.A. is becoming known for. There are TONS of house based events going on each and every night. And now with my new venue the House community can have a home base of sorts.
Why not? I live in Hollywood. Six out of seven nights I’m traveling to one part of the city or another to go to a party. I figured Glendale was as good as any part of town seeing that everyone always has to travel to get to their favorite parties anyway. $8 UBER from Downtown, like ten bucks from Hollywood, and it’s clean, safe and the community is in need of something fun.
You run a successful label and you’ve run successful nightclubs in NY, what are the differences/similarities between the two types of work?
I do everything on my own for Good For You: the cover art, the PR, the promos, the marketing, the A&R, I’m a one man army when it comes to my label. With the nightclub I have partners. When you have partners you have that many more eyes and hands to get shit done. Luckily I have a pretty awesome group that I work with on Cure And The Cause. Lisa Brubaker is the operations guru and has been in the business about as long as I have, plus we’ve worked together on projects in NYC. DJ Fido is a long time L.A. staple and a big part of this city’s nightlife history (his Flammable Liquid events are somewhat legendary) and Linsey Latimer is easily one of the top event planners in Los Angeles. So yeah, we have our bases covered and a four-pronged approach to tackle just about anything that needs dealing with.
You started Good For You Records just before you made the move to Los Angeles. Do you think your label would have been the same if you hadn’t made the move?
Definitely NOT. I lived with one of NYC’s premier nightlife impresario’s, Michael James. One of the most successful promoters and event organizers in Manhattan. Try living in a 2,500 square foot loft, complete with a private elevator and jacuzzi tubs while having one of NYC’s most eligible bachelors as your roommate. As you can imagine, you don’t get much sleep in that scenario. Everyone knew where I lived. It was afterhours “central” and that made it impossible for me to focus and really dive into what I wanted to do with my life, which is making music.
How do you think is this venue going to affect your music production and the label?
So far it’s hindered my production schedule greatly. But once the dust settles and the club opens, I’ll figure out my schedule and get back on track
Everyone seems to be moving to Los Angeles from New York right now and everyone seems to have an opinion about the East Coast vs. the West. What do you find are similarities and differences between the two cities?
Musically it’s all on the same level. Professionalism within the club world, NYC vs. L.A. is night and day. In NYC you have people running venues who’s fathers and their father’s father were in the bar industry. You don’t see that very often in L.A. and that I think that has created a very unstable industry here. It’s just my personal opinion, but I’ve only met three club owners here in L.A. who are talented at what they do. One is John Lyons who owns Avalon and another is Mario Melendez who owned the recently defunct King King (who I hope opens another venue, soon). Bartenders are also different in L.A.. In NYC there are way more lifetime tenders; people who absolutely love to bartend and do it with a passion and pride that shines through when they’re behind the bar. L.A. seems to be almost a halfway point for a lot of bartenders who are here to be actors or here for a while until they figure out where they want to live next, which is fine and good for them, but it’s not really conducive of getting a good experience when you’ve had a long day and you sit down at the pub and the bartender has zero desire to bond with you. Lifer’s tend to be very genuine and care about their customers. I’m not saying they do not exist in L.A., but they’re definitely a dying breed.
Who are your dream DJ’s to have at a party at your new venue?
I already have them! My focus is to shed light on the locals here in L.A. as well as feature talent from the House world who may not be stadium level but are super talented, nonetheless. Opening night I have Eddie B from the Hawt and Jello camp, my buddy Master Kev from NYC and Ricky Kong (another local who is just fantastic). The rest of the lineup for the opening month is just as fucking awesome; My buddy Oscar P who is also an east coast transplant is coming up from San Diego to play with us, Juwan Rates, Jeniluv who throws some amazing parties around LA, Aaron Paar, Slic & Big Cee from the Deep camp, my brother David Harness from SF, Jask, Eddie Amador, my buddy Dougal and Brett, I’m A House Gangster’s the Tripmastaz are playing this coming Sunday for a special friends and family event, Ghosts of Venice, Ricardo from NDYD, Reelsoul is going to be holding down a residency, Colette, Mr C, David Scuba, Jay J, bringing my man Brian Coxx over from NYC, Lars B, the Souliel crew from San Diego, DJ Mes, DJ Dan, LA’s Hush crew, some Grammy winners like Eric Kupper and Stonebridge, Mouton Music from SF is hosting a night, and of course there will be a weekly Disco Does It party (the Good For You Records night). There are SO many great DJ’s in LA and I’m going to do my best to get them all in our DJ booth eventually.
It seems like Cure and the Cause is going to be different than most nightspots here in Los Angeles, is this the case? And if it is, how so?
First off, we’re going to stick with a steady format, something many clubs have zero clue how to do in L.A. because their “talent bookers” don’t know their ass from their elbow. This isn’t about making a shit load of money, its about creating something special. I won’t be caught up in the bullshit competition to book the hot new names in dance music when I’m surrounded by a sea of talent. Let the big clubs who overpaid for decor and charge $400 for a bottle of $18 vodka fight over who’d gonna pay $10k for the next hype-built “House phenom” of the month. Cure And The Cause is about one thing, the music. We want our crowd to know what to expect when they walk into Cure And The Cause on any given night. We’re creating a specific vibe for each night of the week, so you won’t come in one Friday and hear Loco Dice and then the next Friday have Danny Krivit playing. -Two completely different vibes, yet these so called House venues don’t seem to notice or care about continuity. The programming is everything and there will be continuity with the sound. I’m also taking a lot of pride in selecting proper Resident DJ’s who can deliver the right sound on each night. Not to be redundant, but this city is erupting with talent and it’s a waste not to tap into the local resources.
What are your expectations for Cure and the Cause and how do you hope it evolves?
We’re building a home for people who live for those magical moments that you can only find in the middle of a dark dance floor. Our mission is to preserve and highlight quality House music. With the support of the locals and with the help of my partners, we will all be a part of something special that will hopefully last a long long time. How it evolves is really up the the people of the Los Angeles dance music community.
For more info about Cure And The Cause, go to www.CureAndTheCause.com
– Interview By Linda Lay For MI4L