by Chanté LaGon
Georgia, be proud. Your Southern-style grits are hardly Aphrodite's favorite, but the reception you give him is fit for a king.
"Atlanta, I would have to say, is one of my favorite crowds. They're fucking great. ... It's really good fun."
And so is he.
Aphrodite (Gavin King) is not the type to take himself too seriously. He downplays his respect-due status, admits his nerdy tendencies, and is as open as a 24-hour restaurant about his hobbies and private life.
If only the package were that simple. The same man who has played the violin since age 4 and learned to read music when most of us were trying to eat Legos can listen to reggae and classical CDs in the same sitting. Although a string of coincidences led him to hook up with fellow junglist Mickey Finn, the effort and outcome of that association wasn't left to chance record labels Urban Shakedown and Urban Takeover and several incredible dubplates are the proof.
Taking his name from a club night he played at during the "Summer of Love" in 1988, King first eased onto the scene with acid house. Within a year, Urban Shakedown was created with partners Finn and Claudio Guissani. Aphrodite Recordings, the DJ's solo enterprise, and Urban Takeover followed later. The King of beats pretty much founded the jump-up sound, thick with rolling drums and percussion infused with hip-hop flavor.
With the hardware in place, King's next duty would be to release grooveable vibes through music. "Everything I play, I'd like it to be danceable. But saying that, also, in a set, you've got to tell a story."
The nocturnal children at Studio Central on Sept. 11 didn't sleep on his dancetime tale. Familiar characters such as "The Woman Who Rolls" mingled with more recent dubplates, pleasing the crowd without letting it slip into lethargy.
"I know what I want to play, but the good thing about me is that I'm in a position where people are expecting me to play something...which is good," he said. "It gives me a headstart."
King's lead has been steady since he was first introduced to music by his mom, a piano teacher. Although he's not exactly sure how his early experiences influence his music now, it's conceivable that any person who can lead an orchestra as a teenager can produce and spin music to make the masses move as a man. While his mother laid down the dynamic aspects of sound, Dad, the computer scientist, contributed the more technical side so fundamental to "electronica."
"I'm a complete product of my parents," King said.
As the starving artist cliche goes, Aphrodite was "struggling" when he first got started."The reason how I got into making music was because I didn't have any money and I couldn't afford to buy any records. But I had a computer. So what I would do is I'd make records on the computer and spice up my mixtape," he said. "That's how my mixtapes used to be different from other peoples'. They'd have these original tunes on them."
The tapes went off without flaw, but his first record was about as successful as his insurance salesman career. "It totally bombed," King said. The record took about a week to make and sold about 250 copies out the back of a car.
The missing element: Finn. The two hit it off in the studio and produced a second record that performed much better well enough for King to quit his day job of six years.
It's been nonstop since then. Aphrodite has graced crowds all over the globe, from Atlanta to South Africa. Aphrodite Recordings has released more than 30 tracks and the collaborations with Finn have proven results in both sales and on the dancefloor.
A party here, a stalker there (she's the reason his new album's release was pushed back a couple months; it should be in stores now). So many projects, so little rehearsal. "I never practice DJing," he said, and hasn't in a number of years.
It's one of those things you don't expect from a world-renown artist. Kind of like Naomi Campbell rocking bootleg Tommy. It wouldn't and shouldn't happen. The same can be said for a thief that has released sub-quality tracks under Aphrodite's name.
"I'm not bothered about the money side of it. What I am bothered about is that ... people have jumped on my bandwagon," Aphrodite said. "So what they've done is they've put out a lot of stuff, and sold it on the back of my name. But it's not as good as stuff that I would make. So if people buy this stuff and think it's made by me, then that gives me a bad name because they're not very good records. That's why it pisses me off."
Lauryn said it and this thief better not be miseducated: Karma comes back to you. "Something's going to happen to them down the line," Aphrodite said. Appropriately, he has asked that people refrain from buying the fake records.
Aside from that drama, Aphrodite seems happy with what he's doing and who he is. There's very little that can change that. Although he loves computer programming and would probably take that up if music were torn from him, the separation would be near fatal. "Life would be fucking bad if I couldn't have something to do with music."
Sound is seriously this man's birthright.
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