Billy Kenny makes a storied return to Canada’s annual “Electric Island” series
It’s undoubtedly hard enough for producers and DJs to achieve a balance between performing and producing music, let alone take on the daunting task of co-owning their own label. Though it may be a seemingly rare occurrence in this day, Billy Kenny has shown admirable skill and talent in conquering this triad of musical prestige.
UK-born and raised, Billy Kenny has hurtled his way into recent headlines with his triple-threat status. With recent events leaving him unable to enter the USA, Kenny has taken this turn of events with an air of optimism and spent the last few months focusing on his European and Asian fans.
Kenny has been invited amongst other class-acts like The Martinez Brothers, Jackmaster, and ANNA to ring in Canada’s 151st birthday and celebrate the proceeding three-day weekend at Toronto’s Electric Island. Taking a twist on the typical commute to an event, attendees will embark on a quaint ferry ride over to their destination on the Toronto Island.
As his first show in the country since his abrupt deportation from the USA, we chatted with Billy to learn more about what he’s been doing to keep himself busy, his definition of weird, and his take on imprint Mija‘s “fk a genre” routine.
With your recently released Billy Kenny & Friends 2 EP, you’ve gifted us with a few new tracks to look forward to this summer. Tell us about the influence(s) behind this release, and what has pushed you to produce a handful of collaborations.
There wasn’t any set goal with any of the individual tracks as I already knew each one would sound different with having a second artist involved. All of the artists are actually friends of mine and I wanted to work with them for some time and the sequel to Billy Kenny & Friends EP was born.
It’s said that when one door closes, another one opens. Since your (hopefully) temporary departure from the United States, what have you been keeping yourself busy with?
Naturally, when things started to blow up in North America, I turned down, or had to turn down a lot of European shows because they wouldn’t work logistically. I went from living in Europe and playing shows there whenever, to living in the States and having to pick and choose when to be in Europe and not being there as much as I could. Now that I’m based here, I’m playing in Europe way more than I ever have and it’s forced me to focus on other territories too. I played my debut shows in Asia a few weeks ago for example, the Resistance Stage at Ultra Korea was a career highlight for me; I’m still buzzing from it!
Give us a rundown on how the #FreeBilly shirts came to be.
After I made the public statement about the deportation, people started commenting with the hashtag and uploading pictures or videos of me at shows with it in the caption. Shortly after, we were seeing people with shirts they’d made themselves baring the hashtag and decided to stick it on a proper tee for everyone, big ups Mija, Fresch, LO’99 and all the other legends wearing them at festivals around the world too haha <3
We have an admirable appreciation for how deep and downwardly weird yours and Mija’s sets can get. What makes you decide to take the “fk a genre” route, and mix-up the style of songs you play?
Mija is awesome, she’s really a beautiful person and her ethos is brilliant. I think her “fk a genre” concept is what initially drew me towards her which later turned into me being a fan. With such an extensive genre background myself, under different alias’ and many different early influences, I’ve always played with the crowd and gone in unexpected directions during my sets. Especially towards the end of them. I believe that the beginning/intro and end/outro of any set people watch live are usually the most memorable parts, so I’ve always tried to do something more “out there” with both. It also shows the audience a little bit about my character and gives them a better understanding of the music I like.
Although our neighbour has been shifty, Canada will always welcome you with open arms. You’ve performed at Toronto’s beloved CODA Nightclub and are now back for a day on the Toronto Island for Electric Island – is there anything particular that sticks out to you/that you think of when visiting the country?
Shifty, haha! Hey, by complete mistake or not, I did break the rules! Man, I love Canada, just as much as I love the US. Toronto was actually the first city I played in Canada back in 2015! I’ve since played around five times and made such a great circle of friends there which I can’t wait to see this Sunday. I’m also staying an extra couple of days too! In answer to your question, maple syrup, good vibes, amazing views and incredible manners, ehhh.
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Photo Credit: KURTHOOP and WESC of DED AGENCY