It is by design that King Britt’s monthly show for Red Bull Radio is named Transmissions. A constant in his life, King’s musical and spiritual journey channels resonating messages, bound to intention, immersion, flux, and most importantly intuition.
Given this, the decisions which have progressed King through his accomplishments are a result of intuition. With this transmission, he either creates/accept projects, or declines opportunities-even when lucrative. He firmly believes that creativity is unsound when one’s heart isn’t in it; a conviction that demonstrates his commitment to genuine artistic expression. In conducting his life, King Britt has inadvertently dodged being labeled, and has enjoyed a non-linear journey full of positive life-changing moments.
From a tender age, music was King’s life. His father co-owned a barber shop that exposed King to funk and soul. His mother, who would take him to concerts, would occasionally bring King to visit her friend Sun Ra, Afrofuturism pioneer, in his Philadelphia home. Sun Ra became one of Kings’s greatest musical influences.
About a decade later, King’s personal musical legacy would begin as a 12” vinyl dance music buyer for Tower Records (1987-1991). During that time, King became the first DJ (1990-2004) at the now famed Silk City in his native Philadelphia. His journey...
In the late eighties, King and future techno genius Josh Wink began collaborating on music production; a world that King introduced his friend Wink to. In 1990, the legendary label Strictly Rhythm released “Tribal Confusion,” the duo’s first commercial success. Recognizing their potential, King and Wink founded Ovum Recordings, which introduced budding phenom poet Ursula Rucker to a global audience. Within this label, King produced the albums
When the Funk Hits the Fan, and Re-Members Only (featuring Grover Washington Jr., De La Soul, Kathy Sledge, and others). Ovum laid the foundation for King’s music production, though he ultimately left to pursue his growing sonic interests that included a broad range of genres, emerging and preeminent artists, and distinctive record labels. With this astute decision, King’s solo work and remixes became integral to the changing landscape of dance music. Josh One “Contemplation” (King Britt Funke Mix) has become an Ibiza anthem along with Gus Gus “David” (King Britt Scuba Mix) and H-Foundation “Tonight” (King Britt Scuba Mix).
In 2006 director Michael Mann approached King to underscore several scenes for Miami Vice; King enthusiastically accepted. This opportunity led to composing/licensing music for Rolex, HBO’s True Blood, Ava Duvernay’s Queen Sugar, and others.
Adventures In Lo-Fi (BBE, 2002) featuring Madlib, Ivana Santilli, Dice Raw
King Britt presents: Sister Gertrude Morgan (Rope A Dope Records, Preservation Hall Recordings, 2005)
“I Decided” Solange, King Britt FiveSix Mix (Sony, 2008)
After... Fhloston Paradigm (KingBrittArchives, 2017) featuring Nosaj Thing, Moor Mother, Ryat
Honing his skills as the first resident DJ at Silk City (Philadelphia), King along with DJ Dozia, established Back2Basics; a new and innovative music collaboration which merged a live band with a DJ performance. This format serendipitously proved a perfect fit for King to became the original DJ of the Grammy Award winning Digable Planets. After a world-wide tour, King decided to leave Digable at the height of their success to focus on his DJing (house, techno, hip-hop, soul), and production aspirations. Since then, King has continued to DJ globally, spinning in every continent except Antartica. Over the decades, King has played at thousands of clubs and festivals including AfroPunk (NYC), Berghain (Berlin), Liquid (Tokyo), Capital (Johannesburg), Rex (Paris), Fabric (London), Output (Brooklyn), and SummerStage (NYC).
The progression from DJ to musician has been an organic process for King. Given his curiosity and penchant for innovative technology, he regularly immerses himself in understanding the latest sonic tech. This engagement has led to his understanding and appreciation of the nuances of music, a self-taught informal music education.
Dissimilar to DJing, performing on stage for King embraces the art of improvisation of his live original work, much like jazz. This difference between DJ and performer is crucial. As a performer, King solely utilizes various original instrumentation which is distinct and evolving with each subsequent performance.
Fhloston Paradigm: Le Guess Who? (2017,Utrecht), National Sawdust (2017, Brooklyn), Envelop (2017, San Francisco)
Sun Ra Tributes-A Beautiful Noise: Fringe Arts (Philadelphia, 2014), Constellation (Chicago, 2014)
To Subserve and Unprotect: De School (2016, Amsterdam), CTM (2017, Berlin)
Saturn Never Sleeps: Moogfest (2010, Asheville)
The role of music event curator is a natural one for King. Given his respect for creative endeavors, his comprehensive experience, his global connections, and determination, King is a perfect conduit to combine music, culture, and performing arts.
He has curated collaborations at prestigious venues including the MoMA PS1 (2014, Queens), Fringe Arts (2015, Philadelphia), and ICA (2009, Philadelphia). His current curatorial projects include the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2018) and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (2018, Bentonville).
AWARDS/ COLLABORATIONS/ RESIDENCIES
King’s career is one of engagement, learning, and evolution. The creative output from his culmination of his work is the source of his recognition from various institutions, including academia. Honors that humble this former 12” vinyl buyer for Tower Records.
He is a recipient of the prestigious Pew Fellowship (2007), and residencies at the Village for Arts and Humanities (2014, Philadelphia), Worm (2015, Rotterdam) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2018, Philadelphia). In accordance with his non-linear journey, these honors have established King in the fields of education and community engagement.
His upcoming collaborations include a live performance with the world renowned avant garde classical orchestra Alarm Will Sound (May, 2018) and a multimedia project with visual futurist artist/muralist Joshua Mays, and Mural Arts Project.