Q&A: Get To Know New Aussie Talent, Keith Smackdown

Multi-instrumentalist and producer Daniel McKenzie a.k.a Keith Smackdown brings a fresh operation of Electro-Funk beats onto Melbourne’s music scene, exhibiting his colourful tracks for the everyday adrenaline junkie.

His transcendent Dance tunes and psychedelic grooves put listener’s necks at risk of injury, unveiling a euphoric sound experiment with inspiration drawn from MNDSGN, Henry Wu, Harvey Sutherland and Kaytranada.

Listen 'Subject Matter':

And great news, he just released his debut album “Subject Matter”, for our greatest pleasure. This one features collaborations with various Melbourne vocalists such as Emma Volard, GIO, Miss Emilia, Chris Heskett and Madison Deslandes, as well as instrumental talents Felix Meredith, Ash Griffin and Archibald Pommelhorse.

More than a review, we had the chance to ask a few questions to Daniel for the occasion… so check out our full Interview just below to know a bit more about him!

Hey Daniel, welcome on Sidekick! Let’s start with yourself, who is Keith Smackdown?

Keith Smackdown is my beat-making, music-producing alter ego. What started as a random and silly nickname soon became the alias I have used for my solo musical endeavours over the last couple of years. The Keith Smackdown project has allowed me to hone in on my craft and has helped me continuously discover how I can express myself through the powerful art form of music.

Congrats on your new album ‘Subject Matter’, what a masterpiece! What’s the story, the idea behind it?

Big thanks! It was a whole lot of fun to put together. Over the course of quite a few months I had thrown together a decent collection of homemade beats, grooves and rhythmic soundscapes, so a lengthy release had to be on the cards. I was really keen to collaborate with a number of vocalists and instrumentalists that I knew, so I sent a bunch of demos out and was overjoyed with the way they all could bring my tracks to life. Making ‘Subject Matter’ was something I was able to dedicate a lot of time to, as the Covid lockdown gave me more time than I’ve ever had to work on something like this.

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Keith Smackdown Press Photo 2020

Tell us about the origin of your music, what are your influences?

I’ve always been obsessed with any music that gets the neck bopping, the feet tapping and the shoulders shimmying, so my main focus when playing any instrument or piecing together layers for a track is how they can all complement each other for the benefit of the groove. I love funk, house, jazz, soul and disco, and I think I have to shout out Kaytranada, Mndsgn, Henry Wu, Harvey Sutherland and Flamingosis as particular influences for this project. That list could go on forever though.

Are there any upcoming artists that you would love to collaborate with, or artists that you would dream to work with?

There’s a huge bunch of local artists that I would love to team up with sometime in the near future, mainly singers (I don’t really like the sound of my own voice) and brass/woodwind soloists (I can’t play sax or trumpet but they are such unreal sounds). Melbourne is such an awesome network for this sort of thing. There is so much unique talent it feels like an underground musical paradise. In my wildest dreams I would love to have a voice like Gwen McRae feature on a dance track of mine, but I think my head would literally explode if that happened and I have grown quite fond of having a head.

Now, what can we expect for the end of the year, or 2021? Any clues that we could get about upcoming releases or collaborations?

I’ve started working on a collection of covers, using lyrics, melodies and chords from a few classics whilst trying to put the Keith Smackdown spin on them. It’s been a fun but challenging task so far. I’ve also been working on a few more original beats which I hope to use for more collaborations. My goal is to release two more EPs/albums before the end of 2021, although I have goals to do the same with two other bands I’m in – so we’ll see how it goes.

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Last but not least, can you share five records that you can’t get enough of right now?

Right now I’ve been loving Herbie Hancock’s ‘Sunlight’, DJ Harrison’s ‘Stashboxxx’, and Kiefer’s ‘Kickinit Alone’ – which is all very easy listening stuff for me when I’m chillin out. I’ve also got to shout out my man Horatio Luna and his new album ‘Boom Boom’ which provides great vibes for when I’m working out. And finally, any record by Rage Against the Machine, who were my favourite band when I was a teenager but their criticisms of social injustices and political corruption has stayed more relevant than ever this year.

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