In the last five years, the renowned DJ, producer and songwriter has garnered international respect and acclaim for his self styled 'vibe' music proving that success can be achieved by UK producers. Although he has a commercial edge to his sound he has maintained his integrity and continues to produce quality tracks.
This autumn, K-Gee steps out of the shade with the release of his eagerly awaited debut album. An inventive and genre-defying fusion of hip hop, rock and R&B soldered with K-Gee's trademark pop sensibility, the album will showcase one of Britain's brightest musical talents as an artist in his own right.
K-Gee, alias Karl Gordon, has been lost in music for the majority of his life. One of his earliest memories dates back to the age of five when he awoke in the early hours to the sounds of Studio One drifting upwards from the blues party in the living room below.
This early baptism in the sounds of Jamaican reggae was nurtured by his father - one of London's original dub vendor's with his own record shop, 'Body Music' in Upton Park.
By the turn of the decade K-Gee's musical tastes had evolved to encompass the burgeoning electro and hip hop sounds emanating from the US and Europe. Grandmaster Flash's The Message, Planet Rock's Soul Sonic Force and Kraftwerk's Tour De France proved to be seminal tracks and inspired K-Gee to set his sights on becoming a DJ. It was the early eighties, the birth of the 12" was in full effect and K-Gee began to collect records on import, even pawning his father's records when money was tight (an act he recalls in horror today). The proceeds from his paper-round - a full year's wages bought his first set of decks and K-Gee became a 'birthday party DJ' as he perfected his scratch.
K-Gee was sixteen years old when he was offered the chance to present a show on Pirate Radio. Broadcast weekly from a tower block in Shepherds Bush, 'The Future Funk Show' (which lasted for a year), proved a minor success.
A period studying for 'A' levels in Maths and Accountancy proved short lived and, with no immediate possibility of combining his passion for music with gainful employment, K-Gee returned to the family fold and took a job in his father's record shop.
>>FWD 2 YEARS
K-Gee's vocation as a DJ gained momentum when he was offered a residency at London's Fridge club alongside a little known DJ by the name of Seb Fontaine. Around the same time K-Gee and his friend Bello began rapping over stolen beats and basslines and recording their efforts on to tape. Together they called themselves The Outlaw Posse.
One of these early demo tapes came to the attention of Richie Rich - a successful artist in his own right who would occasionally work at Spin Off, a record shop on the Fulham Palace Rd. Richie had recently signed The Stereo MC's to his new label 'G-Street Records'. He sensed the band's potential and offered the Outlaw Posse a day in the studio. Kicking off with sampled backbeat courtesy of James Brown, the duo utilised a method of elimination to navigate their way around the mixing desk. The sessions proved more successful than they could have imagined.
A debut single Party was followed by the album My Afros On Fire. Both were released to critical acclaim in 1990. The buzz on the band grew following a European Tour with Arrested Development and support slots with The Brand New Heavies. The Oneness Of Two Minds In Unison - the title of the Outlaw Posse's second album, did little to betray the rising frictions within the band. Upon release, the music press waxed lyrical once again whilst the Posse fell apart at the seams. Rampant in fighting and trusty old 'musical differences' split the band before the reviews had been written.
K-Gee returned to his job as a DJ, and took up residencies at The Fridge and The Wag whilst a lucrative sideline in bootleg remixes quenched his creative yearnings. Brandy, Monica, Method Man and numerous others all got the K-Gee treatment on up to 1000 pressings at a time. These illegal yet highly sought after mixes brought K-Gee to the attention of several management companies and shortly afterwards he was officially invited to remix the Mica Paris classic 'I should Have Known Better'. The mix proved a huge success and went on to garner further remixing work for the likes of Queen Latifah and EYC.
Somewhere amidst all the late nights and days in the studio, K-Gee met Melanie Blatt and Shazney Lewis - two aspiring pop stars looking to hone their street/pop sound. The three became firm friends and K-Gee played the girls some of the backing tracks he was working on. One of these tracks would later become known as 'I Know Where It's At' - a song that would change all their lives forever.
Three years after their initial meeting, Mel and Shazney, now known collectively as All Saints, signed a deal with London Records. Nicole and Natalie Appleton completed the band's line up and K-Gee was asked to both co-write and produce the band's debut album. Released in 1997, All Saints, the band's eponymously titled album proceeded to deliver four top ten singles and went on to become one of the biggest selling albums of the decade. K-Gee accompanied the band on their world-wide promotional tours, DJ'ing at their live sets and generally 'hanging out' as the band's unofficial but hugely influential 5th member. K-Gee recalls the time with affection. He says: “We grew up together and defined a style and a sound that seemed to catch the zeitgeist. Everyone was looking for an anti-dote to the Spice Girls and we seemed to find it, life hasn't calmed down since.”
K-Gee's profile as a producer and writer was now attracting work offers from every corner of the globe. Aside from his touring commitments with All Saints, K-Gee scored further production and remix successes with top 40 hits for Glamma Kid and Fierce. He has worked on hotly tipped newcomer Lisa Roxanne's solo album and does ongoing work with Will Smith's record/production company. Fo K-Gee the majority of 1999 was spent toying with the idea of recording a solo album whilst fulfilling his co-writing and production commitments for the second All Saints album. The idea was mooted to several record companies and interest was high, however K-Gee became increasingly frustrated at the lack of flexibility exhibited by the majors. He says: “The questions they asked were always the same. 'Where is the concept? Where is the band?’ They just didn't get it.”
Enter Rob Dickins, the former chairman of Warner Records and his new label Instant Karma. The two immediately formed an affinity, “Rob gave me the freedom to do just get on with it' says K-Gee. “No briefings from A&R men and no silly questions about the music.”
Six months on and K-Gee's debut album is nearing completion. A multi-textured collage of K-Gee's musical influences, the album skips through musical genres with consummate ease. From the hands in the air hip hop anthem I Holler to the dark and claustrophobic Bitch Addiction, the album encapsulates K-Gee's self styled 'vibe music'. Candid and down to earth, K-Gee remains philosophical on how the album will be received. “It's all about the groove,” he says. “This album comes from a DJ's perspective, there are some tongue in cheek moments as well as some heavy grooves but essentially this is the sound of me having fun.”
K-Gee returns to the fray this summer with his long awaited second single, the double A-sided 'Stay True'/'Getting It On' which follows the No. 21 chart success of his debut 'I Don't Really Care'. 'Stay True' and 'Gettin It On' both feature the vocal talents of Michelle Escoffery who recently provided vocals for Artful Dodger's 'Think About Me' single. K-Gee has been a busy lad soldering his trademark pop sensibility with his inventive and genre-defying fusion of hip hop, rock and R&B. His debut album to be released on Instant Karma Records will showcase one of Britain's brightest musical talents as an artist in his own right.
“Bet against this rapper/producer/songwriter becoming the UK's answer to Jermaine Dupri at your peril” Mixmag.