To say that Kevin Foakes (aka Strictly Kev, DJ Food, Openmind and many more aliases not mentioned here) is a creative force to be reckoned with is an understatement. Under his Openmind moniker, Kevin’s design work has been the cornerstone of Ninja Tune’s visual identity, creating record covers most of the label’s roster. That would be enough for one artist, but Mr. Foakes not only designs for the label, but he’s the driving force behind DJ Food, and releases material under his other monikers on a regular basis.
We had the opportunity to interview Strictly Kev, and here’s the result.
1. Strictly Kev, Openmind, DJ Food, Flexus. How do your aliases and your art intersect?
Strictly was a given name (by Matt from Coldcut) many years ago that I liked and kept, DJ Food I’ve assumed too and taken control of over the years. The thing about Food is that it was never meant to mean one person, hence the Strictly Kev name as a personal identity, but now Food is just me so go figure. Openmind has always been my design alter ego, even before I was involved with Ninja Tune, it originally started as four people putting on parties and then I kept it when we went our separate ways. Flexus (not Flexus intro as many people confuse it) was something I was going to do as a mixture of cut up and collage, I may still do something with it one day but it exists outside of just music and would involve a series of objects. I had it all mapped out over a decade ago but never got around to it.
2. Your work as Openmind is the cornerstone of the Ninja Tune visual identity. Does your work as a visual artist influence your work as a DJ and music producer?
Not really because most of the time I’m designing for other people and I’m trying to create a visual to fit their music. The few times I have designed for myself it’s been quite difficult actually, how do you visualise yourself? A completely blank canvas and no brief is a dream for most designers but I find it almost too huge to condense down to something I’m happy with.
3. What is the core idea behind DJ Food? Was it something that was planned, or did it happen organically?
It’s probably the most unplanned, organically grown thing that’s ever been given the name of ‘a group’. It started out of necessity, got added to by circumstance and then evolved due to public demand. There was never any plan, there still isn’t to some extent.
4. What’s the future for DJ Food?
An album this year, collecting 2 EPs I made in 2009 plus a third I’m working on now and a few other bits. I’m not decided on the title but I’ve got 2 months to finish it. Then I’ll probably tour that.
5. What about live performances? Do you have anything planned for the near future?
That’s another thing I’m trying to figure out, my normal club DJ sets are quite different to the music I make at home. I want to do a set of DJ Food music, both past and present, but make it club friendly. And I want it to have visuals.
6. What would you like your musical legacy to be?
No idea, just being remembered for doing something good is hard enough, you hope to inspire people in the same way others inspired you. You want something you’ve done, whether musically or visually to mean something to people, for them to look or listen to it and be overwhelmed by its beauty enough to take it with them.
7. What’s your top 10 right now?
Jon Brooks-Music For Thomas Carnacki (Cafe Kaput)
Wagon Christ – Chunkothy video by Celyn Brazier (Ninja Tune)
SoundSci – The Illness (Crate Escape)
DJ Food vs 2econd Class Citizen – unfinished untitled collaboration
Edan – Echo Party DVD
Shades of Rhythm – Sweet Sensation (Lone remix) (Cheap Thrills)
Simon Garfield – Just My Type (Phaidon)
Lone – Echolocations EP (R&S)
DJ Format – Mr DJ / Dope Pusher
Shakara – Robbie Morrison/Henry Flint (2000ad)