Dallas Observer Mixtape with Kaycee Unisca

Unisca looks for his keys.
Unisca looks for his keys. Andrew Kyle
Born out of the bubbling Dallas rave scene in the '90s, Kaycee Unisca  has made the journey from enthusiastic foot shaker on the dance floor to DJ making the feet shake. Like most deejays, he has gone through a few genre phases, but house music has been a constant thread throughout. Unisca is a key player in the collective and has a regular DJ show on ActiveSessions.fm.

For this week's mixtape, Unisca brings a mix he calls "Where's My Keys?" for a bubbly and oftentimes bouncy mix of house music that leans heavily on tech with splashes of swinging funk.

How did you get started deejaying? What drew you in?
I started going to parties in 1994. My very first one was an Earth Party, and after that I was hooked. Dancing with the crowd is what drew me in, and then after a while, I became curious as to how the DJ was making all these people react at the same time to the sounds that were coming out of the speakers. After that, I learned to count beats and started playing trance music. After hibernating with my turntables day and night, I finally got it and can tell you that there is no other feeling in the world like you feel when you match your first beat.

What is your connection to house music?
To me, house music is the beginning and the end. Progressive house, tech house, minimal house, electro house are all loves of mine, plus many more. There is so many genres of house that can connect with any mood or any crowd. House is where it all started, and if it ever ends — which I doubt it will — it will be with house.

How was this mix made, and what was the concept behind it?
"Where's My Keys" was recorded at my house one day when I could not find my keys anywhere, so I was stuck at home. I was so frustrated, I just jumped on the decks for some music therapy, and this mix was the result. I felt so much better after I finished, and I went into the kitchen for a drink, picked up a piece of paper and there were my keys. Since then, the same thing happened (I lose my keys all the time), and I was stuck at home unable to find my keys, and I started mixing and, believe it or not, when I was done, I found my keys.

Do you still play vinyl? Do you have a preference?
Vinyl is a huge part of my life, and it is safe to say that I am a true vinyl junkie. I have, without a doubt, put in my blood, sweat and tears lugging my records around to various gigs, as well as protecting them over the years. Sometimes I miss standing outside of Core Records or Oak Lawn Records waiting for the orders to come in, so I am the first one to get my hands on them. Times have changed, as well as technology, and I am not so stingy with my music. I have learned since the switch was made to mp3 that it's not really about the track but how it's played. Back in the day, I used to get a big kick out of dropping a track that made people come to the booth to see what it is, only to be disappointed to see that it was a white label. Now someone else could very well have the same track as I do but play it very differently. I was definitely one of the last of the Dallas veterans to play on CDJs.

Where do you like to dig for tracks in general (online or brick-and-mortar)?
Both. Anywhere I see vinyl, I am going to dig through them without a doubt. You never know what gems you may find. Searching for tracks online is an everyday thing for me because I love to go down through the rabbit hole of researching and finding awesome tracks done by awesome artists. My music collection is very wide and covers just about every kind of genre, so I can honestly say that I could DJ for any occasion except Christmas. I do not have any Christmas music.

What is the Collective all about, and how did that get started?
The Collective is about helping other artists out. Kind of like Wu-Tang. They are made up of a bunch of artists that help each other out to progress in their career. The Collective radio on ActiveSessions.fm has over 5,000 listeners in 49 countries. It blew up so fast that it is still hard to accept the fact that many people listen to my voice and the tracks I choose faithfully. I also have a variety of local artists as well as international artists on the show, and it has been a delight to work with every one of them.

How did you get involved with ActiveSessions?
Eighteen or some years ago, I did a plug on 89.3 KNON, and I met MxMind. He gave me many opportunities throughout the years to play at various venues, and we have been friends ever since. MxMind started ActiveSessions.fm and allowed me to be a part in this venture, and since then, I have gotten to play alongside some great headliners, like Sandra Collins and Derrick Carter. There is so much talent that makes up the ActiveSessions.fm crew, and I am very honored to be a part of a great group of artists.

What other music has been catching your ear as of late? What music do you enjoy outside of dance music?
I am punk rock to the core, loving the Misfits, The Clash, Social Distortion, The Dead Milkmen. I also love metal, like of course Pantera, Slayer, Ministry, Type O Negative, The Genitorturers and many more. Grunge and alternative play a big part in my life, as well as '80s retro. My music love goes way out and covers all types.

Did you have a musical background before becoming a DJ?
Oh, yes. I have been musically active my entire life. I taught myself how to play guitar when I was 12, I dabble on the piano and since the middle of last year, I have started to produce my own electronic tracks.

What was your most significant musical experience of the past year?
Being on the lineup with Sandra Collins was such a great thing to me because listening to her many, many years ago helped pave my way into electronic music.

Do you have any particular producers or DJs that have had a significant impact on you?
Mark J took me under his wing years ago and taught me how to use my ears. Still to this day, he talks to me like I am his little brother, and he is actually pretty hard on me, which makes me angry at times. However, I know it is for my own good. Rabbit in the Moon has also been like a spiritual journey almost.

Any new-school producers or DJs that catch your ear?
Maceo Plex has really gotten my attention lately, as well as NTrain. NTrain has actually been somewhat of a mentor like Mark J has been. Knowledge is power, and those guys have it.

What gigs do you have coming up?
I play random gigs in various pubs and bars all over the Metroplex; however, the next big show is The Pixel Invasion thrown by the Austin Dance Syndicate down in Austin.

Track List
"A Pleasure & A Half" — Acrylite
"Activate" — ThreeSixty
"All Good" — ThreeSixty and Dirty Harris and Dr. Kaotica
"All You Need (Lee Van Dowski Remix)" — Miss Kittin
"Alors On Danse" — Oscar L
"Alright 2014 (Lucas & Steve Nothing But Funk Remix)" — Red Carpet
"Ambiently Speaking" — Circuit Bent
"Back One" — Dario Nunz and DJ Nano
"Balloon" FAT and Alex Side
"Bamboo Fire (Worthy Remix)" — Jet Project
"Beach Of Bones" — Luigi Rocca/Hugo
"Black Mamba" — John Acquaviva and Olivier Giacomotto
"Booze & Strings" — Dousk
"Breakwater (Dataworx Remix)" — Funkagenda
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Wanz Dover
Contact: Wanz Dover