Popular disc jockey Kurt Riley has an uncanny ability to never make a bad selection. He can play music from his turntables for days on end Ã¢â‚¬â€ which is where the nickname Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Party AnimalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ comes fromÃ¢â‚¬â€ and has been fixated with music all his life. Though he only started working with the ones and twos professionally since 1993, he has been apart of a formidable roster of sound systems, and has worked with a myriad of artistes, and we wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even begin to mention his busy schedule these days as he spins music at the hottest parties in Jamaica and even overseas.
His first gig was at Big R Disco in Vineyard Town, which was owned by Herbert Ross. After a short stint there, he then moved to Changes Disco ran by Dennis Ã¢â‚¬ËœDCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Chambers. He then hopped over to Renegade Disco, where he was the main DJ for GodfatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Night Club. Sounds familiar? Well it should, as the club later changed its name to The Asylum.
But we not only know Kurt Riley from his presences at parties, but heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a fixture on one of JamaicaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most popular radio stations, FAME FM.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“In 1998 I got a call from Ms Rosamond Brown to be a guest DJ on Fame Boat Party. She must have liked my performance because she called him for the other two.Ã¢â‚¬Â He then got a call from her later, asking him if he would be interested in being a relief DJ for Fame; he said, yes, and the rest is history.
It is no wonder that the Party Animal is such a mixing wiz, when he grew up with a father like Winston Riley, a prominent Jamaican song writer and producer, who is also the owner of the Techniques Records, a record store which was originally located on Chancery Lane, Down Town, but was later moved to Orange Street.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Watching him work with all the top artistes, you didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t figure out what you wanted to do, it just happened and it just gradually worked its way throughÃ¢â‚¬Â Kurt says, remembering his fatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s days in the studio. Somewhere between interacting with all that music, spending time in the record store and following his dad everywhere music could be found, KurtÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s love for music was set in stone.
But when did he decide to become a disc jockey? Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was listening to Donovan Dakers mix on the radio, I remember it was Pink Cadillac by Natalie Cole, and I had never heard anything like that before.Ã¢â‚¬Â Donovan, who knew Kurt from his dadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s store, where he used to buy records then snuck him into the studio to mix.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t remember the song but I remember I nearly dead, mi tremble like leaf,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says with a hearty chuckle.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was still a teenager and he had invited Rory from Stone Love that very same night I mixed for the first time. It was the first time I ever played on radio, and it was like it was destined to happen. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know why IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a DJ, it comes naturally. Nobody taught me how to mix.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He admits though that seeing those guys in the studio with his dad helped him to understand beats and tempo, and what was really going on behind the music thanks to pioneers like Steely and Clevie, Sly and Robbie, Beres Hammond, Freddie McGreggor, Donovan Germain, and his own dad Ã¢â‚¬â€who produced hits like Buju BantonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Gold Spoon, SanchezÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Lonely WonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Leave Me Alone, Come Back to Me, by Tiger, and Tenor SawÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ring the Alarm. So involved was Kurt with music that he himself helped to produce Tenor Saw and Buju BantonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s remix of Ring the Alarm Quick!
After Ring the Alarm Quick came his first fully produced and co-written song, Buju BantonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Stamina Daddy in 1990. Then in 2006, he and his brother Andre, made the Ruler Riddim, and he did a cover version for Now and Forever with VoiceMail. He also released his Golden Gate Riddim last year, which, though it got more feedback and airplay outside of Jamaica, was still widely popular.
If you ask him who is favourite artistes to produce are, an impressive cadre of heavyweight entertains will will carry some heavy names in the Jamaican music business, such as Freddie Mcgregor, Bounty Killer, Beres Hammond, TOK, Alaine, Konshens and Bajan Biggie Irie, Torch, Morgans Heritage, Voice Mail, AJ Brown, Nicky B and even upcoming artiste Chevaughn who sang the hook on the summerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s constant repeat, Ding DongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Holiday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh and how could I forget,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says, continuing Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Omari, Tessanne Chin, and Fanton Mojah. They are all terrific song writersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ great vocalists, they speak the music. So do musicians Paul Kacit a drummer, Kirk Bennet also a drummer, George from Fire House and Fire House Band, Berch from Big Yard, and Riff Raff who is a part of Notice Productions.Ã¢â‚¬Â
As for his favourite artistes to mix for, Beenie man and Buju Banton win this round Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Beenie Man, cause I go on tour with him and mix for him, and the influence that he has on the audiences of the world, (takes a breath) its amazing. Buju Banton, is more of a very good friend, like family, he worked his way up the ladder very smartly.Ã¢â‚¬Â
When we asked him what he is currently working on he seems almost dazed and confused. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am very busyÃ¢â‚¬Â he says as he starts to list out his projects. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m producing the song Lonely on Gramps MorganÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s new album, working on a new dancehall riddim called European Swing as well as a loverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rock riddim called Eternity which has the likes of VoiceMail, Beres Hammond and MorganÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Heritage.Ã¢â‚¬Â And you can look out for his party Animal Instinct A.I. this Christmas.