Dallas Observer Mixtape with Mike Kannon: Karenn, Jack Master & More

Mike Kannon is radio personality by day and techno warrior by night.
Mike Kannon is radio personality by day and techno warrior by night.
Adam Garrett

Mike Kannon is best known for his role as morning show personality on the top 40-centered radio station 103.7 FM, but the recent Dallas transplant also happens to have a deep relationship with underground techno. For this week's mixtape, Kannon goes hard in the paint with a mix of techno largely associated with the Berlin club scene. For a city that still has a tenuous relationship with proper techno, Kannon is yet another example of top-notch techno talent hiding in plain sight. Kannon more than touches on the kind of techno that at the right volumes is actually heavier than a lot of metal out there, a perfect balance of pushing the envelope and still being dance-floor friendly. 

Dallas Observer: How did you get started deejaying?

Kannon: Living in North Carolina, I made a new friend who had just moved from Chicago. He played house music on belt-driven Newmark turntables and a RadioShack mixer. Fellow DJs know if you can match a beat on those babies you can do anything! I was immediately fascinated by the art and my love for it has only grown stronger ever since.

What is your relationship with Dallas DJ culture?

Being a relative newbie, moving here from Philadelphia a few years ago, I’ve been fortunate to make some fantastic friends who are incredibly talented and dedicated to their craft. I am so impressed with the humility demonstrated by artists in the scene here, and really want to express my gratitude to them for being so welcoming.

How was this mix made and was there a concept behind it?

I play using CDJs as a controller for Traktor, through an Allen and Heath Xone 92 mixer. My overall sound is on the groovier side of techno, but I have serious passion for the harder side as well, and wanted to put out a mix for Dallas reflecting the more aggressive, darker side of what I play.

The kind of techno you explore in this mix is a far cry from your day job. How did you come to have a relationship with underground techno?

I actually started deejaying and radio hosting at an early age. I was 15 when I started doing both, and still have a passion for both. Living on the East Coast, we were afforded the opportunity to take trips to a number of big cities in a relatively short amount of time. D.C., Philly and of course New York were at the top of the list. I loved the house music I was playing and listening to, but the moment I heard proper techno I was hooked.

When did you get introduced to techno?

It was at a warehouse in New York and the DJ was Frankie Bones. Overcome with excitement, I started visiting his record store, Sonic Groove, where I bought my first batch of true techno. It was a hodgepodge of tracks that included several of Frankie’s “Ghetto Technics” anthems, as well as Jeff Mills, and the records that made the most impact on the direction I would head in as a DJ myself, Adam Beyer’s early Drumcode releases.

What is your take on the current atmosphere of techno in Dallas?

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So much talent, and it’s continuing to expand. … I’m immensely proud to see artists like Maceo Plex and James Kelly finding success, not just here but internationally. Admittedly, it took me a minute to find the true techno scene in Dallas. It’s made up of very close-knit groups of friends who grew up playing techno and throwing parties in Dallas — and techno parties, by design, aren’t generally in-your-face.

Where do you like to dig or research for tracks?

If there’s a DJ, label or producer I stumble on, I go right down the rabbit hole and can be gone for hours, sometimes days at a time. I love finding obscure producers and labels from all over the world, as well as the more well-known labels like Drumcode, Mord, Token, et cetera. I am also lucky to have great friends that love techno, and we trade ideas and new discoveries regularly.

What other genres of music do you enjoy outside of the four-on-the-floor realm?

I have always loved hip-hop, rock, and  — dare I say it? — I’m a sucker for a great pop song. Mostly because I appreciate the production, which is where modern pop truly lives. There is an art to creating a melody so catchy you just cannot get it out of your head. Simplicity is harder than it seems.

What has been the most profound music experience you have had in the past year? How has that experience affected you as artist?

I was lucky enough to go to Fabric in London recently, only two weeks before the doors were shut. Room 2 was an absolute techno cauldron. The energy was palpable, driven by a non-typically relentless, pounding set by Allen Fitzpatrick. The vibe in that room was so incredible the roof could have come off, and it definitely steered me back toward the harder side of techno. P.S. #SaveFabric.

Tracklist:
1. Karenn - Pace Yourself 
2. Luca Angelli - Phoenix
3. Jaceo - Fermi 
4. M.I.T.A. - Soulmate
5. Jack Master (Slam remix) - Bang The Box
6. Ansome - Snake Eyes  
7. Lag (Bas Mooy remix) - Kontrolla
8. Ilario Alicante - Encounter
9. Charles Fenckler - Frozen Room
10. [0] Phase - Flyby/Falling
11. XHEI - Airport
12. Simo Lorenz (Luis Flores remix) - Megaland EX2
13. Lewis Fautzi - Eerie
14. Scalameriya (Bas Mooy remix) - Haka 
15. Ansome - Dragon’s Dynamite


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