Kenny Larkin Biography
Kenny Larkin is one of the chief innovators of Detroit's so called 'second wave' of techno producers from Detroit. He began his music career in 1990. After serving two years in the U.S. Air Force repairing computers, Larkin returned to Detroit to pursue stand up comedy. During his pursuit, he, along with other Detroit club goers, witnessed the birth of a new genre of music at local clubs. What came to be called "Detroit Techno," thumped in clubs like; The City Club, The Majestic Theatre, The Shelter, and the legendary Music Institute.
The latter considered home base for the bumping, sultry, emotive, yet almost romantic style of club music that rose out of urban plight, desperation, and decay. Larkin mostly frequented The Shelter, were he soon hooked up with Richie Hawtin, who was one of the club's resident dj's, and the two became good friends. While driving around the city at night, they stumbled onto a local Detroit radio mix show. The dj creating the mind-blowing mixes that changed both of their lives was none other Derrick May, or "Mayday," his call-name on the radio. May along with others, inspired both Larkin, and Hawtin to pursue this new form of music. When Hawtin formed +8 with John Acquaviva, Larkin released his first two singles. But, it wasn't until 1992, when he founded his own label, Art of Dance, that he came into his signature sound. Under his "Dark Comedy" moniker, Larkin created 'War of the Worlds,' which went on to become a seminal dance floor techno classic for Derrick May's Transmat Records, of which Larkin licensed the project to. After contributing the exquisitely beautiful and sublime tracks 'Serena X' (under the name Yennek) for the compilation Panic in Detroit and 'Tedra' on the hugely innovative Virtual Sex (Buzz) compilation, Kenny was pushed to the forefront of techno's soulful elite. In 1994, Larkin shrewdly carved out his own classic sound when he signed to Warp Records, and released his first album, entitled Azimuth. The album was hailed by European and U.S. press as one of the most original techno albums to date. A few quotes: "Azimuth is one of the most imaginative and original techno albums yet." MUSIC WEEK "Delightful, pure Detroit-style techno. Melodic, emotive and, like so much great U.S. techno, almost jazz-like in places. Larkin is a man with his finger on the fast forward button of music's future." SELECT "A masterpiece. This LP of intelligent Detroit techno is an upcoming classic." STREETSOUNDS Street Sound magazine later voted Azimuth as one of the top 50 Techno CD's of all time. Larkin's music career seemed very bright, but tragedy struck when on November 17, 1994, he almost lost his life after being shot in his suburban Detroit home by two unknown assailants. Luckily, the bullet missed vital organs, but it sliced through his lower abdomen. After 12 hours of surgery, Larkin was in critical condition, but pulled through. Hospitalized only for 6 days, Larkin began touring just two weeks after he was discharged from the hospital to support his new album, Metaphor, which was released on R&S Records in February of 1995. The release earned him more accolades as a leader in electronic music. "This is electronic soul music, full of human feeling and warmth" MixMag "A juxtaposition of polished classic Detroit and quirky jazz-inspired innovation". At times very minimal and ambient, other times well informed by house, Kenny's warm dance beats hit in just the right places at just the right time." I-D Metaphor was nominated for best electronic album of the year in Keyboard Magazine. In his hometown, Metro Times voted Larkin 'Best Techno Artist of The Year' at it's yearly music awards. Since the release of Azimuth, Larkin has traveled over 2 million miles around the globe, dj'ing and playing live at the biggest Festivals in Europe, some which had him doing his electronic performance in front of as many as 25,000 fans. In addition to his own productions, Larkin lent his melodic sensibilities to various artists. He has done remix work for Carl Craig, Inner City, Charm Farm, L.A. Synthesis, and most notably, Sade. Although a bootleg, the remix of 'Surrender' sold 10,000 in 3 weeks. Apparently, Sade wasn't amused. Her attorney contacted Larkin and demanded they stop selling the single, or face litigation. Larkin agreed, and stopped distributing the single. Larkin's remix for Charm Farm entitled, 'Superstar', shot up the charts in France, helping establish the band in Europe in the dance scene. In 1997, Larkin released his first LP under his 'Dark Comedy' moniker. More striped down and minimal than his first two LP offerings, the project showed a darker side to his persona. 'The Bar', which was released as a single, was a favorite among techno's elite dj's, because of it's frenetic beats, and purposely rough, off edits. After the release of this album, Larkin took a break from recording to keep up with his hectic dj schedule. Unfortunately, months turned to years. And he found himself losing motivation to releasing techno music. He explained when interviewed, "there's so much crap out being called techno, that I've lost the desire to be associated with it anymore." For the next few years, Larkin was content with dj'ing, until 2001. That's when he decided to go back to his first love, stand up comedy. As a result of that decision, Larkin gave up the 'state of the art' studio he built in the suburbs of Detroit, and moved to LA to pursue comedy full time. Although definitely not a seasoned professional yet, Larkin is performing his comedy in the biggest clubs in LA, the Laugh Factory being his preferred spot, which is paying off. He regularly showcases his act here, and is very close to securing a prized 'regular' spot at this this top club. In 2002, after getting his comedy career off the ground, Larkin's desire to record music returned. With the new change of scenery and inspiration, Larkin began to record two albums at the same time. These would be his first projects in almost 8 years. The first completed album, Narcissist, was picked up by Peacefrog. Released in April, 2004, Larkin did what he always tried to do, which is go against the established perception of what techno should be. His signature sound still remains after such a long hiatus. Larkin has put focus more on mood, and melodies, instead of harsh, abrasive, non-melodic material that has defined techno for the last few years. The second album Larkin completed late 2004, was under his Dark Comedy alias. This album took a huge departure from what others have come to expect from him. Instead of the stripped down production of his '7 Days' outing, he decided to go in a totally different direction. "I felt it was imperative that I take my music in a totally different direction. There was nothing else I could do with 'techno' to take my sound to the next level. For inspiration I decided to pay homage to my musical upbringing. I listened to a lot of blues, jazz, and funk. Once I turned to my past, it took me a split second to decide what type of album I wanted to do, and what direction I wanted to go with my Dark Comedy name. I'm all about pushing myself, and trying different things with this group. In the end, it was very easy for me to record this album, because I stuck very close to my musical roots. My slant in this production is it has an electronic edge to it. It's my version of an electronic blues/funk/jazz album. For the first time, I'm using my voice to weave stories about my life. What I've been through," Larkin states. Upon hearing the album, record companies big and small lined up to sign it. Among the interested parties, Dan Keeling, A&R at Parlaphone/EMI UK, who discovered and signed Coldplay. Larkin decided to sign the album to a smaller label, in order to get as much attention as possible for this totally different genre-bending album. Poussez, a French label headed by Alain Ho (DJ Yellow) from Yellow Productions/France, convinced Larkin that they could provide what Larkin was looking for. Larkin signed the album, entitled: Dark Comedy;Music Saves My Soul. The first 12 inch was released in end of Nov.2004. The album was released June 2005 to much critical success.