Studio production tricks and techniques are such a crucial part of drum 'n' bass that bringing the music to the stage has proven somewhat challenging. But Kevens (pronounced kee-vens), a drum 'n' bass artist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, hopes to change that. Backed by a full entourage consisting of a drummer, an acoustic and electric bassist, a keyboardist, a guitarist, and eight dancers, vocalist/songwriter Kevens treats his audiences to a visual spectacle that matches the drama of his songs.
"I look at every song as if it's a video," says Kevens. "People don't know how to react, at first. They're used to seeing DJs and listening to records. When they see a stage full of dancers dressed up like zebras and angels and all this fire, they just watch for the first three or four songs. But soon the music and the message gets to them, and then they really get into it."
Kevens has worked with reggae artists, including several members of the Bob Marley clan, but when he was hired to MC at Florida's Zen Festival in 1997, he had an epiphany. While DJ Monk from Rabbit in the Moon was spinning hard-core drum 'n' bass, Kevens noticed trouble on the dance floor between the audience and the police. In an effort to restore peace, he took the microphone and began singing words of inspiration.
"The mood in the room changed completely," says Kevens. "The people really loved it, and they were coming up to me afterwards, some of them saying how it changed their lives. To me, that was a message that I should start in a new direction. It brings me great joy to be able to affect people in a positive way. People are hungry for it, even though they may not realize it."
While the dark and menacing mood of most drum 'n' bass has kept the genre firmly entrenched in the underground, Kevens hopes to break through to the masses by injecting a positive message. "I want to keep the vibe of the underground but take the music to a commercial level," he explains. "I want drum 'n' bass to become as accepted as rock 'n' roll or the blues. Drum 'n' bass came from reggae, but you can merge any type of music with it."
Kevens is taking his lavish stage production to a number of festivals this summer. Several major labels approached him following his appearance at the Winter Music Conference last March, and he's currently working on some new tracks that he hopes to release soon.
For more information, contact Kevens; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; Web www.kevens.com.