Kwende Kefentse, aka DJ Memetic, music maverick

kwende.kefentse_1319650777_0More about this cool fella

Can you tell me about what you are doing for the City of Ottawa?
I am working primarily in what could be called music industry development. That constitutes working with the leaders in the music industry in the city and the leaders within City Hall that work in sectors that affect the music industry like economic development for example. This will hopefully result in the industry growing, getting stronger and getting more self-sufficient. The idea is that there would be more jobs and more opportunities in the music industry and more capacity for people who participate in the ecosystem.

How would you describe the music scene in Ottawa right now?
In the grand scheme it’s hard for me to place it. And by grand scheme I mean relative to this place because there have been different eras of the music industry in Ottawa. I don’t know if it is as swinging as it was in Harvey Glatt’s day but I will say that it’s as connected and the posture forward looking more than it has been at any other time that I have been here.

How long have you been working in the music industry?
I have been in the music industry in one way or another for 15 years. I have been working for the City for five or six years. Specifically doing stuff in Ottawa since 2003. I am from Toronto. I came here for school and stuck around doing different things…working for the newspaper Ottawa Xpress when it was around, doing radio and DJing. I was also working for Martin Prosperity Institute in Toronto back in like 2005. I worked with Richard Florida writing and researching on how cultural scenes develop and function in cities. I also did a research projects for the Film Board and other stuff like that.

Eventually, when they had the transit strike I had a difficult time because of where I lived. My life as it was sort of shut down and I was going to move back to Toronto but before that I did this article about the arts cuts in the City Hall and I ended up meeting the culture manager here [City of Ottawa] through that interview. We stayed in touch and right before I was going to move to Toronto she called me and said come to this meeting, and after the meeting she proposed this job and I said ‘I am into that’ and that started things here.

How has it been working for the City?
It’s been dope. I work with dope people. My coordinator Cathy Shepertycki is like top of the line manager. I couldn’t image working for with anyone better than her.

Where does the culture piece fit in within the bigger City Hall vision for the capital?
Ultimately the answer to that lies in the budget. However they budget will tell you where the priorities are. The budget passed recently, not unanimously, and one of the points of contention was the way the city has fallen behind on its commitment to the arts, heritage and culture plan. That says what it says. That doesn’t mean that our work stops [work of the cultural division] we don’t just pack it up and go home there is still a lot of shit to do and we do it.

Tell me about your personal music projects?
Zattar and I have the Timekode (TK) records, we did the Souljazz Orchestra and Bonjay mixes and that was a record that was focused on Ottawa. We are gonna be doing another couple of records one focusing on Montreal and remixing Montreal artists and another on Toronto and remixing Toronto artists. I have a project that I am doing…started some sketches with this vocalist who is a really interesting vocalist. The music is sounding good so far and that’s cool.

backstage w zattar

Memetic & Zattar backstage

TK or just me or some combination of the two will be doing franco-ontarien remix thing. Putting out a short video for the Souljazz. We are going to be doing a crowd funding campaign for these records as well partially because we are not doing any more TK parties until we can find a more suitable location. We will have some cool incentives that we have been working on and that’s exciting. All of this stuff will be released through my record label Memeplex. I have been working on that side of things, getting that started, the publishing company side of it. One of the remixes we did just got picked up by the Canada Dance Festival as the song they will feature in their promotional material. There has been good traction on the labels we have released. We are shoring up the business side of things to make sure we are properly structured for success.

How do you stay inspired?
I have always had that predilection around better busy than bored. I would rather be getting into something, no matter what it is, you know what I am saying, rather than just chilling. That’s just sorta the way my mind works. I keep myself around busy people who are doing interesting things. My girlfriend is super cool. She has her own dance career independent situation going on. The people I collaborate with homies like Colin White, an illustrator, definitely an inspiration there. An independent illustrator, successful at it, continues grinding, developing new projects. Just sorta staying around people who are driven to make their living by realizing the things in their head. That’s a good way to stay fresh. Seeing that enough you are like ‘I have ideas in my head too! Maybe I could get them out there and do whatever I wanna do’.

I have a thing about developing independence. You can’t be independent right off the bat but I am always working to build towards a level of independence personally. I will always be trying to build something for myself that is not a salary that someone gives me. That’s also part of my MO.

Any parting thoughts?
Zattar and I have a crate at the Record Center for people who like the music that we play on the radio show. There is a crate where we order new music and dig throughout the store for the music that we like, that we know is dope and we put it the crate and it makes it easier for people to just find some good music fast, new stuff, used stuff, TK records, Memetic records, other local records we like.

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