American made 

Florida DJ AK1200 takes the Brits to task

"For the longest time, the big-name DJs haven't had to work for their crowds, they've just had to play for their crowds," Dave "AK1200" Minner says from his home in Orlando, Fla. We've been talking about British progressive house/trance DJs, but with the impending release of SHOOTTOKILL -- the 30-year-old's first full-length offering of original drum 'n' bass -- the statement seems prophetic.

"I bet there are 10 locals almost anywhere who can smoke without messing up once," AK continues. "So now, you're only as good as the work you give. Too many people have taken from this community without giving back, and now everyone is having to give back tracks, albums, because otherwise they would just fade away like a boring, stone-faced trance DJ."

AK's 12-year history follows the development of breakbeat -- from 'ardkore rave music's sunny rise from out of acid house, through the darker polymorphic, hyper-kinetic polyrhythms of drum 'n' bass -- and his immediate agenda doesn't include fading away, gracefully or otherwise. While the British have been knelling a stagnation of d'n'b for some time, recent years have seen a swell of stateside enthusiasm, spurred in particular by Breakbeat Science and the annual "Planet of the Drums" tour AK co-headlines alongside DJs Dara and Dieselboy.

Now, with SHOOTTOKILL -- coming in early September on Lakeshore imprint :\run recordings -- AK's giving back by going back, producing an album that draws on his own history as opposed to any current sub-genre. It's an album designed not for an upfront drum 'n' bass listener, but as an accessible introduction to this modern music.

"I Americanize the music," AK told CL in 1999. "I take elements of my own background and incorporate them into drum 'n' bass to make it appeal to those who are not so familiar with the music. The music I write is girl-friendly, house-friendly, breakbeat-friendly."

The above quote is as appropriate today as it was three years ago. With SHOOTTOKILL, little may change in terms of people's perceptions of AK. He's still a party DJ, playing hard-rollers mixed up, scratched up and cut up. And while SHOOTTOKILL isn't targeted to the dance floor, it's also not out to challenge people's idea of what drum 'n' bass is. AK does hope, however, that the 18 months spent ensuring the quality of SHOOTTOKILL will help gain American d'n'b more respect.

Despite America's claim to the funk/hip-hop breakbeat, the early foundation of drum 'n' bass, "is British music," says AK1200's Planet of the Drums tourmate Dieselboy. "But that need to play in England has pretty much vanished. We have a strong enough scene here."

AK agrees that there is little need to court the U.K., and he believes the British turning their backs on American d'n'b DJs and producers actually resulted in a stronger stateside scene. "There are a lot of people -- like Sinthetix, JuJu, Hive -- doing good tunes every time that all the people in England are trying to get on them," AK says. "Because when there's a good tune, there's a good tune. It doesn't matter where it's from. It just took them a while to accept that. I think, so far, there's not much of a contribution by America to changing the sound or advancing the sound of drum 'n' bass. But what I do think is that the American people have had a lot to prove, so they're putting everything they have into their tunes, while a lot of the U.K. people aren't."

With SHOOTTOKILL, AK is most interested in showing how far he's come.

"At the end of the day, I tried to make an album where, even if drum 'n' bass wasn't the kind of music you liked, you would still be able to appreciate the melody of the album," AK says. "There are so many things you should be offering people other than just playing other people's music."

AK1200 spins at Blu Fri., July 5.

Technical Itch, MC J Messinian and others also perform. 10 p.m. $20. 960 Spring St. 404-257-2515.


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