Khalil Shares Start in Producing, London's Livin' Proof Parties, and Recent Dancehall Mix
New York-based Khalil is known for his popular mixes and founding the Livin’ Proof and Back to Life parties. Over the years, the parties put on shows with major acts of all genres, from Schoolboy Q, to NTS shows, to A$AP Rocky. We had the pleasure of interviewing Khalil following his performance at “Party For a Good Cause” here in Bangkok just ahead of Livin’ Proof’s 11th anniversary. Read on to find out more about start in producing, London's Livin' Proof parties, and recent dancehall mix.
What sparked your interest in DJ-ing and producing?
Being around other friends who DJ'ed was the start of it, I was really into music, and watching them was an exciting way to be more involved in music. From then it was collecting records, building a collection to be proud of and also just playing with the music and seeing what you can do with it. Mixing different styles, trying to do scratches you'd hear on mixtapes, learning skills and performing in clubs. It's addictive and a lot of fun! In terms of producing, Pauli's the one for that, he's worked on so many great records and produced tons of dope beats, I'm having fun with it, making some remixes, but I'm still very much learning production.
Tell us more about how your London's Livin' Proof and New York's Back to Life parties came to be - and what is it that sets them apart?
Livin' Proof began back in 2007 in a small basement club in Central London. before it was Livin' Proof it was a chilled Sunday session for a bunch of DJs to hang out after the record store we worked at, Deal Real off Carnaby St, closed down. After we did a one off Saturday party, we made it monthly and quickly rose through the ranks of London's nightlife, gaining cult status as the best Hip Hop party in the capital. Since then we've put on shows with many artists including A$AP Rocky, Giggs, Schoolboy Q, Danny Brown, Mobb Deep, played Boiler Room shows, NTS shows, Toured, played Festivals and worked with many great brands. We celebrated 10 years of Livin' Proof last year and now do shows at two of East Londons best venues, Village Underground & Oval Space.
I moved to New York from London in 2015, and along with Pauli, another Brooklyn based Londoner, and Alex, who runs the successful Move Forward Music promotions company. We started Back To Life with the goal for us to bring a bit of that London vibe to NYC, playing the music we grew up around - from Grime & UK Garage, to Hip Hop & RnB, House, Broken Beat and everything in between. It was amazing, our first party had record numbers at the venue, and it went from strength to strength from there. We've had so many incredible guests play the party including the likes of Sampha, Just Blaze, Idris Elba, Donae'o, DJ EZ, Kojey Radical, NAO, Little Simz, and so many more. New York has a special energy about it, and when you get it right, it's amazing. So many things can just happen, and we've been really fortunate to have a lot of great things happen around the party.
It's actually funny, Alex pointed out that at Livin' Proof we play mostly American Hip Hop in London, and at Back To Life we play loads of UK music in New York. So that's one difference lol, but the idea for both parties is to create a special vibe, build a community for like-minded people try to connect different worlds and people through good music.
What inspired your recent dancehall mix?
I just felt like I wanted to make a few party mixtapes, and i recently played a set in Bedstuy where they don't want you to play Hip Hop and I had a lot of fun playing Dancehall, the vibe was crazy! Plus this time of year there's Notting Hill Carnival, which i missed again, and then the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn, so it all came together and felt like the right thing to do. I've actually made 2 versions of the mixtape. The first one is really vibey, something to put on to get you in the mood before a night out, and the second version is like an alternative ending. Mostly the same tracks, but mixed much faster, with Pauli hosting and Jungle at the end to give it a UK vibe.
Having put together a lot of mixes in the past, do you have a favorite you'd like to share?
Not sure if I have a favourite, but out of the last couple of years, I was really proud of the Back To Life 1 year anniversary mix we did for iD Online, my section isn't the best, but it was really special to have all the DJs record mixes for it. Big thank you again to Just Blaze, Kindness, Jasmine Solano and Moma for being a part of it and Donae'o & Shystie for the dubplates! Apart from that, really enjoyed making the 'Holland Park' and 'Central Avenue' mixes last year. All of these are on my Soundcloud & Mixcloud.
With so much music being released these days, how do you decide which ones to include into your sets?
There's too much! I get sent promo's still, so that's a good source of new music for me, I try to keep finding new and old music I like and find ways of incorporating in into sets. Sometimes the best thing to do is just go out and hear music, share music with friends and try to stay true to what I like without just following trends all the time.
What do you have in store for the rest of 2018 that you're able to share?
There are a few exciting projects with Back To Life at the moment, so hopefully, we'll be able to pull them off! We plan to release music and have a potential clothing collaborations in the works, but that's as much as I want to say about that because I really don't want to jinx it.
Apart from that we celebrate our 3rd anniversary in Brooklyn in October, and we're looking to finally bring the party over to London as well as taking it other cities in the US, and potentially Europe too. Livin' Proof turns 11 years old in Nov, and for the first time in a year all 4 of us will be at the party, so I’m very excited about that, we should have some special guests for that one too, so watch this space.
Connect with Khalil below: