Ever since his first gig at NYC’s Limelight at the age of 16, Kenny Summit has become a household name in New York’s nightlife scene. Summit quickly found himself playing alongside the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Tiesto, and Fatboy Slim, and commanding the music for major fashion and music events everywhere.
He soon brought his talents to the production world, working on various mixes including his 2009 Ultra Records release One Night in St. Tropez. Already a favorite DJ among celebrities, Summit looks to add to his impressive resume in 2012. With a brand new track titled “Keyed Up” (which you can download for free here), a new album on Mile End Records, and the launch of his own record label, the newest phase for this accomplished DJ is just getting started.
How did you get your start as a DJ?
I sent tapes to Limelight, they heard the tapes, I performed there, and it was kind of a big ball after that.
What were some of your early gigs like?
My big break was Ralph Lauren's birthday. The fashion scene got its hooks in me. I started doing a lot of Fashion Week gigs. It’s funny because I don’t play that kind of music. They’re not used to underground house, but it worked out.
What are some of your favorite venues?
Cielo, Kiss and Fly, Greenhouse, Pink Elephant.
How does spinning in New York compare to performing around the world?
There’s nothing like New York. However, people get more excited to hear new music in other places, while in the city they just kind of want to hear the hits.
What inspired you early on?
I was a big basketball nut, so I always had that mentality that you can progress yourself to get better at anything. DJing gives me that opportunity. There’s an instant gratification when you’re playing a gig and the crowd goes nuts.
Which collaborations of yours really stuck out?
I’ve played with everyone. Stevie Wonder was a real highlight. Limelight was fun, having Axl Rose come up and take over the mic was an experience.
What about some dream team-ups?
I’d like to work with a lot of rock artists, like Radiohead. A lot of male vocalists, like Michael MacDonald, which people might not expect from me (laughs).
Do you have any other favorite artists that people might not expect?
I like a lot of R&B. Aretha Franklin, stuff like that. I also love Van Halen. I don’t listen to one single genre of music.
What drives you to constantly make music?
I don’t go to see other DJs. A lot of inspiration comes from just watching MTV and hearing a guitar riff that catches my ear, things like that.
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Lack of security. No benefits. It’s a grind, man. If you stop for two weeks, you fall off. No vacations.
What’s 2012 looking like for Kenny Summit?
Next year I have an album coming out on Mile End records. I’m also launching my own label (Good for You Records) in January, we’re putting out a bunch of releases.
How did that come about?
I’m sick of having other labels not doing the right PR. I decided to do it my way. We’re putting out records by Artifacts, the Sunny Daze band, Justin Schumacher, and the Goddamn Kids. It’s gonna be a return to real music. Lots of live stuff, not too produced.
So that’s where the name comes from?
Exactly, just stuff that’s good (smiles).