Here to bring the party for the Johnnie Walker Black Circuit Lounge, California based DJ Von Kiss has been riding the dubstep sound wave all around the world from the UK to Mexico to Japan. She now arrives in Malaysia ready to shake up the scene and show us all a good time. JUICE had a chat to her about everything from how to properly ‘dance dubstep’, to her friendship and future collab plans with the so-hot-right-now producer, Diplo.
What kind of stuff can we expect from your set tomorrow, what’s your sound?
I make sure that whatever I play is going to reflect my style, with consideration of who’s there. I like to keep the dancefloor packed, I like to keep the energy up, I want everyone to have a good time. I want everyone to leave that party knowing that when I was on the decks playing that it was memorable and that they were having the best time at the party at that moment. Definitely bringing in some of the good tech house, really banging fun party stuff, and I have to drop at least 3 dubstep tracks. I try to do it in a way where it is an element of surprise and people are going to appreciate it. I don’t know how the response to dubstep is here in Malaysia but I’m hoping they’re gonna love it. Dubstep is growing for sure but not everybody really, actually appreciates it.
So you don’t think it’s quite reached mainstream status at the moment?
It has in the States, but the first place was in the UK. I was just there and every party I went to they had dubstep playing, even if it was a commercial party. But like I said I’ve never been here. Until I see the reaction of who’s at the party we’re not going to know.
What’s your favourite crowd to work with?
I did a dubstep tour in Mexico and the response was amazing. Whenever I play at a party where it’s strictly dubstep, the crowd gets insane. I can just go crazy, without feeling should I play this? Is this too loud? Is this too much? The crazier, the louder, the better it is. I like it where there’s no limitation, where I don’t feel censored. Other than that, it’s fun to play for gays. The gay crowd, especially guys, man, you can play almost anything to them and they’ll love it. Shirts off, hands in the air, drinks everywhere. It’s definitely a party.
What do you think the ‘correct’ way to dance to dubstep is? Here we see a lot of slow motion, headbanging. Whereas in the UK, there’s a much more developed style. What do you think?
Europe too, and France. I know in France there’s a crew that did a whole set to a dubstep track, the way they danced was insane. There’s definitely that scene where the way people dance is very advanced. Other places, like in the US, there are people that do that crazy pit throw, mosh pit stuff. Which is cool. In Mexico it was like that. I went to a party where there was this girl, while I was DJing, she was the first one to start getting crazy. And there were all drinks lined up on a ledge. I ended up watching her because she was just going crazy. And all of a sudden she goes up to the drinks and she’s all whack! And she knocked everybody’s drinks off there for real! And I was all, oh my god!
Did she get away with that?!
Oh yeah! Everyone was into it. She started pushing people, it was crazy. But when I dance to it, you’ll see me moving to it. Because some of the beats, some of the bass, it’s so good you can’t help but go AHHHH! There’s a big head nod movement with dubstep; your head is just moving along. I have a bit of footwork, some hand movements and arm movements I do if when somebody else is playing. As long as people want to move to it, that’s the most important thing. If you’re just standing there, there’s a problem.
Hypothetically, if the sound cuts during your set tomorrow, what would you do to keep people entertained?
Oh man, get naked?
Have you ever had a moment when you played a track, whether it’s dubstep, whatever, and the floor just cleared? What do you do in that situation?
Not to the point where it dissipated. People know I’m going to play some dubstep, so I have a crowd there to support it. If I drop a dubstep track, even if 15 people leave the floor, the 5, 10, whoever came for dubstep will go to the front and be so excited that I don’t care that other people left. I know that they have been waiting for this, so I need to get it out, put a smile on faces. With other genres, other tracks that didn’t work, the dancefloor tends to cool off a little, but you always just have your folder of tracks you know are gonna bring it right back. Whether it’a a current, crazy, top charting track, or something classic that has worked every time, you have to be prepared.
Fair enough. So take a risk, but have backup.
Or they can all go for a 15 minute bathroom break.
Where does your name Von Kiss come from, what inspired it?
At first I was DJ Kiss. Kiss is cute. It’s not too girly, it’s short, easy, and I can use my kiss mark logo. That was cool until I found out there was another DJ Kiss. She’s in New York. She’s a black female, similar in age, but plays more hip hop, old school hip hop. Which is cool, but the problem was somebody was gonna book DJ Kiss, and grabbed her picture instead of mine. They had her picture when I was DJing at this event. That created an issue, I needed to change my name. I got married three years ago to a woman whose last name is Von Pris. A friend of ours would call us the Von Kisses. They would call her Von P, and I’m DJ Kiss. So she created this combination, Von Kiss, that was pretty cool. I’ve never heard anybody else with that name. I still get to keep the Kiss, so why not? To this day there’s nobody else Von Kiss. Hopefully it stays that way.
This is your first time in KL, is it your first time in Asia?
I was in Tokyo in August, DJing for Rye Rye.
Before that I went to Bali. Driving here from the airport into the city reminded me a lot of Bali, it’s very green. Until you see all these buildings, then you’re definitely not in Bali.
In your bio it states you’re going to be working with Congorock, Diplo, some other cool people, what’s the deal with that?
I met Diplo 2 years ago, he is really cool. I became friends with him. But he is so busy, he’s insane. I admire him as a producer, because he isn’t just locked down to one sound. He’s produced tracks for Lil Wayne, and Chris Brown. Him and Switch; Major Lazer, they were just working on No Doubt’s album, so it’s just different styles. I am eager to get in the studio with him, but his studio time is so limited. But when that opportunity comes, when the timing is right, we’re going to make some crazy stuff together.
So plans for an EP?
Definitely once I finish up these tracks. I don’t know if they’ll go on the EP, 1 I think will. It’s still just grasping the production side. I’ve been doing it for almost two years, and it’s been amazing. It’s frustrating though because possibilities are endless. There are so many different ways you can go. I have a friend that I’ve been working in the studio with, I do my own stuff, and then we get together. He’s amazing, he’s very tech house, acid house, bouncy fun. The music that we make together is real fun. I’m excited to finish up an EP with him.
After KL where are you heading, what’s next for you?
I was supposed to go back to Mexico, doing a dubstep tour from the 1 to the 12 December, but it hasn’t been locked down. It might get pushed back, maybe to January, but then I just found out I might be going to India, that will be cool.
Wonder if there’s a dubstep scene in India…
I’m very aware of where I’m playing. I test the waters. I have tracks that can get people’s feet wet with it, to see how they respond to it. I’m prepared to switch if I need to.
DJ Von Kiss will play at the exclusive Johnnie Walker Black Circuit Lounge tonight, if you’re lucky enough to attend. Otherwise check out her Soundcloud at soundcloud.com/vonkiss.