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Karn Hall

Auckland, New Zealand

Funk / R&B, House

Karn Hall Soundcloud

Biography

Regarding my djing, perhaps what im most well known for, its something that I love and am very passionate about. I really enjoy my role as a navigator and presenter of sound and am thankful for the success befitting me over the years.

To date, you can catch me playing at a wealth of varied and colourful events around New Zealand.

Everyone seems to write biographies from the third person perspective pretending like someone actually knows them well enough to be able to write something that conveys their message. We all know 95% are written by the subject themselves so I thought an honest approach in writing my own bio would be strangely original and hopefully more interesting. Friends, tell your friends, haters, keep on hating but hate to your friends too! It all works wonders and the Sun will still shine when we are gone.

Lets start at the beginning. I grew up in West Auckland during the 80’s on a staple musical diet comprised mainly of Rock music plus records ranging 80’s Nu Wave and Electronica. Some of the artists I remember playing on my Dad’s turntable include Queen, The Cars, Dire Straits and New Order. From an early age, my air guitar renditions and primal record scratching sessions were part entertainment part pain for my parents and being 6 years old with a weapon Rats-tail you can get away with anything.

As I grew up, influenced by the rock flavours before even hitting double digits in the age stakes I found my own tastes leaning towards Motley Crue, Poison, Slaughter, Aerosmith and Skid Row. Pretty boy rock at its best, great music, make up, hot women and long hair, they were living the dream and so was I, or was I?. It wasnt until I witnessed RUN-DMC’s reworking of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” that my influence became swayed. I remember seeing this video at my Grandma’s house and thinking, who the fuck (sorry Grandma) are these cool black dudes wearing shoes with no laces. I always loved the bit where DJ-RUN scratched the record and as soon as VHS came out, I recorded the music video and played it countless times on days after school rewinding the scratching section over and over. I had a secret crush on Rap music from then on. I was cheating on Rock like a Viagra sponsored Tiger Woods but it was prove a sub-conscious passion that would remain dormant for the years to come.

Because Rap music had not gained serious traction in my part of the world nor serious airplay on any stations or channels I was privy too during that era, my lust fell by the wayside as Rock offered itself over and over again like a Heroin deprived hooker. I continued cultivating the neighbourhood Ratstail until 1988 when a friend stole one of his older brothers tapes and presented it too me like a sacrificial virgin at a Freemason convention. That tape was Public Enemy’s first album, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.

Here I was, a 9 year old kid moved and influenced by the hard hitting beats, lyrical wisdom and creative genius of a group called Public Enemy yet, I had no further outlet to discover like artists and music in that vein. I didnt have a car, the internet was only in Star Trek and music stores seemed like they were on the other side of the world. It didnt help when big brother took his album back while delivering a couple of really decent dead arms. Rock welcomed me back and tightened its embrace for the years to come. It wasnt until High School that I really made the leap from Rock to Rap.

I had become friends with a big crew of cool kids who lived in the city. When looking back, I would say were really influenced by city suburban life which in turn had made their tastes in music ‘next level’ to my own. I was really into Tool around around that time, when I was presented with a few albums on CD including The Beatnuts, Da King & I and Outkast as well as a Freestyle Fellowship/Aceyalone compilation and ‘DJ’ mixtape called ‘Ajax Trax’. Now, these titles could mean bugger all to you but think back to that first cassette, CD or vinyl that really meant something to you and stuck a chord deeper than those before. These albums were beyond cool and I stated making making Hip-Hop pause tapes on a Sega Mega CD console and tape recorder for mates at school in 1993.

I fell into the world of djing around the Christmas period of 1995 at which time a friend had acquired a pair of Technics 1200’s a couple of mixers and some very large PA speakers. Turntables, particularly the Technics brand were certainly a step up when it came to manipulating sound compared to my Sega and I was taken by the concept as it stoked the fire and ignited my memories of DJ-RUN.

After learning how to beat match (combining songs to match tempo) I progressed slowly on the Hip-Hop tip but found myself fully moved and motivated by the newly spawned sub-child of Jungle music, Drum N’ Bass.

Like money to the Jews I was captivated and so were my friends. The tireless and perfect computer driven pattens coupled with Transformer like analog sounds, huge sweeps and bulging basslines were all a few stoner kids needed to make the hours of the day fly by. It became everything, an all consuming passion. Records were like black crack, expensive and addictive and once you used them, you wanted more and would do anything to get them.

The first title I ever purchased on vinyl was an album by the Pharcyde ‘Labcaincalifornia’ which was soon followed by a steady slew of Jungle and Drum N Bass titles. The record stores loved me and I sure loved spending a lot my money with them. I spent hours upon hours shoulder to shoulder with other dudes in stores like Phat Wax, BPM, Marbeck’s, Trutone, Quaff and Real Groovy hunting that next dope record. There was always a sense of anticipation when a guy drew a record out of the bins, kind of like Arthur pulling the sword from the stone. You would sneak a glance out of the corner of your eye thinking to yourself, ‘man, I hope there’s another copy of that one!’ and quite often ‘Bastard!’ would spring to mind.

Having records was one thing but I needed some gear to practice on. Traveling to my mates house was becoming a chore, he was getting tired of a crew of guys invading his room day in day out plus, his parents were pissed after returning home from work to the remnants of their pantry and fridge. I had also started wagging school to get time in on the Turntables so I began the hunt for the gear I needed in order to work smarter not harder.

At the age of 16 my budget was super modest and I only had a few hundred dollars at the time to make things happen. In the years prior to Trademe industry standard equipment cost more than my car so I went humble and acquired a very basic Akai turntable from the Trade & Exchange. The mixer I ended up scoring for about $80 had been part of a school production kit and somehow had found itself presented to me by one of my friends from the city schools. I asked few questions (no lightening bolts thus far), Voltron was formed.

My set-up consisted of a turntable, mixer, CD player in the form of my Sega and a home stereo plus a crate of records, it was jam on! Without two turntables, things at home were limited to mixing records over CD’s but in hindsight this hurdle proved valuable. Another mate of mine had a similar set-up with one turntable but he was left handed so his turntable was on the left. At home, being right-handed, mine was on the right. Most guys we were jamming with seemed to favour a particular hand for djing but over time, swapping from left to right ended up improving my dexterity. At this time, collectively we were practicing alot of scratching techniques based on what we were watching in the early DMC and Skratch Piklz videos so being able to use both hands to employ different techniques was a desirable trait for the competent DJ. As the months went by, time passed, we jammed, I saved up and ended up getting another turntable.

My first DJ gig came as a surprise when a girlfriend of mine asked me how much I would charge to play her 16th birthday. In late 1996 at the age of 17 even $10 would have been amazing to get paid for something I got so much enjoyment out of so I went all in and hit her with $50 for 4 hours plus all my gear. There was a slight pause that seemed to last longer than was comfortable. I hung there in anticipation of the words to follow and watched her lips as they pursed in contemplation of my proposition. Had I over shot the mark, did I blow the budget, her friends were known to get naked when drunk, should I have offered to pay her?. She proceeded to begin jumping up and down, I loved and loathed it in the breath, she was well equipped for her age but I was still hanging. Like a schoolgirl turned pornstar ‘Yes, yes!’ she cried, ‘thats so cool, I thought you were going to say heaps more!’. I wept quietly on the inside that day thinking of the Red Rutherford that could have been mine but it was a gig regardless.

In the years that proceeded I went onto acquire better equipment, more music and a wider variety of sounds. My friends and I clocked up a heap of experience playing gigs that ranged school balls, birthdays, house parties and afterballs plus, I had played about 25 functions at a K-Rd venue here in Auckland over an 18 month period during 1998 – 2000.

I was well hooked by now and my University studies took a backseat as I started earning real world cash money for djing. After moving out of home at 17, making ends meet had certainly become a priority and getting paid good money to do what I enjoyed took precedence.

Sometime around 2000 I ended up scoring a job as a porter picking up glasses and other such mind numbing medial tasks at a very popular K-Rd nightclub. The work was hard, the hours sucked but the atmosphere ruled and DJ’s that played there were off the chain. I had never really liked House music up until that point but had deviated from my stance as a stanch advocate of Hip-Hop and D’N B at times playing a few oldies or retro tunes at functions but that had been about it. House music had never really entered the equation except when I had first started and practiced with a mates old Dan Curtain tunes as well as tracks on the Peacefrog and Missile labels.

Soon I became hooked on the 4/4 rhythm of House music and started to acquire a deep appreciation for the genre. Not only did I enjoy the music but I loved how it often seemed to improve my mood and bring about a positive vibe in the club that was reflected by the patrons. I began to do my homework investing loads of hours at the record stores finding various flavours that took my fancy. This was not as easy as the push into DN’B had been. A crew of 6 guys sharing information and knowledge of artists and labels saw our tastes and independent collections grow rapidly but in a time computers were still expensive and with the internet pretty much still a tool of big business, developing a jam from what was, a new genre for me, was challenging but I was up for it. Soon enough the time came when I felt comfortable that I had amassed enough House tunes to lay down a decent set and after scoring some Saturday sets at a clothing store on Saturdays I felt confidant that I could perform a set of this new jam to a bigger crowd.

The club I worked at was the busiest party club on a Thursday night in Auckland city. I would rock up for work at 8pm, get my job setting up the bar sorted and most of the time end up sitting on my hands from 9pm until 10pm when the first DJ would start his shift. The staff knew I was a DJ and had told me the story about how there had been a bouncer on one of the club doors who had gone onto become a really popular House DJ. Bartenders can be great storytellers and I was motivated to do the same. I hit up my manager regarding the 9-10 timeframe where I had no work to do and the only music that played was a mix CD putting forward a case that the club was busy at 9pm and people often came in and wanted to dance but would stop start as there was no DJ to reference. I would identify this opportunity as the single most important turning point that resulted in my career as professional working DJ.

There was a measurable difference in the club with people arriving earlier, dancing from the outset and in turn drinking more alcohol all of which proving great for business. This made everyone happy and I would get props from the staff for my little sets and comments on how they enjoyed my music etc. After about 6 weeks of playing this slot I was defiantly getting comfortable and I got asked to play a joint birthday party for two of the guys who worked as Bartenders at the club, I of course agreed. The party was held on Friday night and the guys had the club private until 12am at which time it would open to the public. My manager expressed that she was confidant in how I had been playing and asked me if I could DJ until 1am as the sets normally ran, 10-1, 1-4, 4-7 which I thought was totally cool. Midnight rolled around the club was so bumping that the public patrons could not even fit and I could see people arriving at the top of the stairs just dancing away because there was no more room in the club. It was one of those moments in my life that I will never forget as I felt excited, nervous, calm, shaky, happy and overwhelmed all in one. I had played to this many people before but the vibe had never been like this and it was truly something else. It literally felt like you could cut the atmosphere with a knife as all eyes in the room fixed a fresh faced nobody DJ who was rocking a room. At the end of my set the DJ who followed gave me some shit for the last tune I had played but it was water of a Duck’s back at that point. I respected him hard but detected his self-esteem and nervousness at following what had been a blistering set by someone whom he didn’t even know and probably deemed at the time, a little punk. One thing that has never changed is that there are always ‘haters’ out there who feed on ignorance, jealousy and low self-esteem. Regardless, the club was heathing, my friends were happy, the job was done… well… half done. I did have to pick up glasses, empty ashtrays, restock fridges and squeegee urine off the floor in the guys toilets for several more hours but I on Cloud9 and even a Tiger Uppercut from Sagat wouldn’t have dulled my shine that night.

My manager started booking me to play once a month on weekends but hustled me for the first few times at the same rate I was getting a glassie which was $13 an hour. This was cool as with me, I was on fire and was enjoying just playing on a club rig to a bunch of people. It got to the point where I was really starting to shine, the dancefloor was packing out when I played and maintaining itself, the bar was turning over stack of cash and it felt like patrons were starting to come to hear me play. I wanted to play at the club more but had bitten my tounge as not to step on toes or get out of my league and soon she bumped me upto $50 an hour which was a very solid going rate for beginner DJ’s at the time. After work one morning I hit up one of the barstaff as to why he thought the manager wasnt booking me for more sets when it was obvious that I was delivering just as well as some of the established DJ’s who were playing there. He said it was because she couldn’t take me seriously as a DJ when I was still also employed as a glassie at the club. This really was a no brainer equation, it was hard labour working for $13 an hour doing suck work versus DJing music on a beast rig on the best equipment to packed dancefloors filled with hot women while getting brought drinks and getting paid $50 an hour. I threw in the towel (literally) and pushed the DJ angle hard and started getting booked more frequently. I guess you could say the rest is history, here I am doing it to it today.

Thank you for reading my novel. This is as much a reflection of myself for myself as it is for those interested, an insight into what im about and how I got to where I find myself today navigating and combining music for people to enjoy.