JK47 with MYAGI , ADAM DUKE and PHAT CONDUCTOR at Apothecary (340 Adelaide West), Friday (July 21). $10 (includes CD). www.jk47.ca. Rating: NNNNN
Hanging out with Jet and Kaelo (aka DJ47) on a patio across the street from their Cabbagetown studio, you quickly get a sense of how their chemistry works. Kaelo does most the of the talking and is animated and almost businesslike, while Jet slouches in his chair, occasionally interjecting from behind his sunglasses, saying little but subtly steering the conversation.
"It's a cool combination we have," explains Jet between sips of his pint. "He's so technically inclined with the gear, but I never went to school for it and just learned through trial and error at the same time as I was getting into DJing and partying."
In the studio, Kaelo is more of the technician and arranger, while Jet brings some of the quirkier rhythms and textures and is more likely to be the one touching the turntables when they DJ together.
Listening to Unsigned Heroes, their debut full-length album, you can hear that combination of the DJ-friendly thump and studio-wizard atmospherics bringing the collection of downtempo, tech-house and breaks together. It's equal parts big room and bedroom, a formula they hope will lift them out of their current unsigned heroes status.
"We kind of did it all wrong," admits Kaelo. "Instead of putting out a white label, which people understand is basically an unsigned demo on wax, we did all the artwork and stuff for our first four singles, so people thought we had a label. That meant the real labels didn't pay that much attention and we also had problems getting distributors to carry them, since we weren't on a label."
They aren't completely labelless, though. In recent years Paranoid Jack and Myagi remixes of their track The Letter have been released on actual labels and got decent play overseas. They're starting to wrap their heads around the business end, but as Jet says, "We just want to make music."
In theory, Unsigned Heroes, with its eclectic collection of moods and styles, will serve as a great promo for the variety they're capable of, but as the afternoon wears on it becomes increasingly clear that their sights are set more on the dance floor and the DJ crate than on the living room stereo, making all the mellow downtempo numbers something of a red herring.
However, it still makes for a much better listen than if it were all bump and no groove.