July 12, 2021

Exclusive interview With Kebi

Kebi is a Canadian-born house producer and DJ based in Tulum, Mexico. We sat down with Kebi to hear more about his, upcoming releases, creative process, upbringing and more.

NS: You seem to be a very worldly person - born in Canada, went to school in NYC, lived in Aspen for some time, and now you’re based in Tulum. Is there a place where you feel your roots are deepest?

Kebi: Ya know it’s funny. I was born in London, Ontario and after living in a few different places (including Belgium for a year) I moved to Connecticut by the age of 5. I absolutely loved my childhood growing up in Connecticut, yet still always felt super Canadian! Every summer we would go spend time with family in the woods of Northern Ontario, swimming in lakes, playing games, chilling around a fire, and just enjoying the simplicity of life in nature. I think that’s where most of my inspiration and authenticity in life comes from.

In terms of music, I’d say New York City is where my roots lie deepest. The jazzy subway culture to the hip hop influences of the Rucker Park glory days.

NS: Growing up, who were some of your favorite bands and artists?

Kebi: Wow. All over the place. To bring it way back, the Backstreet Boys were dope. I still have dreams of one day being in a boy band. I’ll never forget the Take Off Your Pants & Jacket album by Blink-182, my brothers and I absolutely loved that album. I remember there was also a lengthy chapter in my youth where I’d spend hours every day looking for every single mixtape and track that Lil’ Wayne put out. His lyricism and word art blew my mind on an artistic level that was beyond anything I’d ever heard. To name a few others that come to mind; Sum 41, John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Taking Back Sunday, Shwayze, and CCR (that’s what was always playing in my Dad’s car). Once I was old enough to get my own computer, I became obsessed with digging for rare and unheard music. Lots of underground hip hop and R&B that I can’t remember.

NS: Are other people in your family musically talented?

Kebi: Yeah! My older brother plays the guitar and sings really well. My younger brother is also extremely musically talented in so many ways. He is in a reggae funk soul band called Tales of Joy that I totally suggest checking out if you’re into dem feel-good irie vibrations! Growing up my mom made all of us take piano lessons as well as another instrument of our own choice, so it was a very musical household to say the least haha lots of jamming in the basement and in-house concerts on Christmas Eve.

NS: Talk a bit about your creative process in general. Gear, techniques, times you like to work, what gets you inspired, etc.

Kebi: Gear wise I keep things pretty simple, mostly working with simply my laptop and a pair of good headphones, maybe a little midi controller and a microphone. Whenever possible I also really enjoy working with live instruments and collaborating with other musicians in some aspect or another. Electronic music is in my blood, but nothing can replace the feels of some live instrumentation!
In terms of work flow and the daily process, I tend to work with a cup of coffee, a spliff, and preferably no distractions other than the birdies singing. At this point it’s pretty ritualistic. An essential for me is a good energetic space among nature. Natural lighting, plants, maybe some incense and a fruit smoothie.

NS: When was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue music as a career?

Kebi: I remember it exactly. My older brother Mike was attending college in Montreal and sent me a video of the Bloody Beetroots performing Warp at a halloween concert. It was madness and the energy absolutely blew my mind. That’s when I knew I was gonna dedicate my life to being a DJ.

NS: Judging by your IG feed, you’re a seasoned traveler. How many countries have you visited and which is your favorite? Do you have any cool/intriguing stories from your travels…?

Kebi: How many? Hmmmm, maybe like 15? Picking a favorite is hard because I absolutely love them all for so many different reasons! I think traveling is a great way to discover and unlock deeper parts of our soul. It has been an immense tool for me in growing my perspective and testing my own limits in life. A few of my favorites gotta include the Sahara Desert, Havasupai Falls, Cuba, The Maldives, and India.

NS: Spirituality plays a strong role in your life. Talk a bit about how music ties in with your spiritual beliefs. How do your practices influence your music?

Kebi: Yeah I mean it’s hard to put into words, but spirituality is really the driving force of my life and who I truly am. Everything else, including the music, is a byproduct of that. With that being said, I have the absolute utmost gratitude for music and the way it allows my higher self to relate to this human experience. This whole life is frequency, and the way that music allows us to feel and flow and connect and love is truly magical.

NS: Dream collab for Kebi?

Kebi: At this moment in time, probably Angelo Ferreri, Moodena, or Saison. Their work has been incredibly inspiring over the past few years. I also feel that Justin Timberlake, Justin Beiber, Pharrell and I could really cook up some fire in the studio : )

NS: You are located in Tulum, Mexico - has the tropical environment changed your sound? What have you learned since moving there?

Kebi: It’s funny, while living in the mountains of Colorado my primary electronic influence and source of inspiration were the sounds primarily coming out of Tulum, so I found myself mostly playing jungle vibes and afro house. But since relocating to Tulum, my sound has actually developed back into a more New York jazzy disco type of feel. Not what I expected, but just going with the creative flow! I will say though that Tulum has solidified my deep love and appreciation for latin percussion and sexy downtempo rhythms. Me gusta.

NS: What are some of your big bucket-list items as an artist/DJ that you haven’t checked off yet?

Kebi: One day in the near future I’d love to start touring internationally which I have never done before. I think that could be a really cool experience for some growth and perspective before eventually settling back into the sustainable quiet lifestyle that I enjoy most haha which leads to my next ultimate bucket-list item; an outdoor music studio and collaboration space that is completely one with nature, near a freshwater lake somewhere off the grid; energetically sustainable and run off intuition, allowing space for universal growth, authentic expression, and genuine connection of all sorts : )

NS: Tell us a little bit about the process of making your latest single “Livin’”.

Kebi: Summer was approaching, I wanted to make something with a carefree summer vibe. One of my favorite movies of all time is Dazed & Confused and I was surprised that I never heard anyone sample any quotes from it. Pretty sure I was smoking a joint one afternoon and my roommate said the classic “alright, alright, alright” line and yeah that’s when the idea “sparked”. Pun intended haha

What’s next for Kebi?

Kebi: There is no next. There is only now. And right now I am : )

Keep Up With Kebi:

Website | Instagram