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King Britt, photo courtesy of the artist.

Fellows Friday: Q&A with Electronic Musician King Britt

Our “Fellows Friday” series focuses on the artistic lives of our Pew Fellows: their aspirations, influences, and creative challenges.

In conjunction with the Center’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts in 2017, we spoke to electronic musician and DJ King Britt (2007) whose work explores the musical possibilities that arise at the intersection of club, experimental, and electronic music. Britt’s recent releases include Cosmosis Volume 1 and Volume 2 (2015/16), The Phoenix (2014), The Intricate Beauty (2008), and King Britt Presents: Sister Gertrude Morgan (2005). He has worked with many of Philadelphia’s legends of soul and R&B, including Grover Washington, Jr., Kathy Sledge, Gamble and Huff, and James Poyser. This month, Britt will perform at the electronic music festival, Moogfest, in Durham, NC. In June, Britt will release his new record After… under his Fhloston Paradigm moniker, featuring collaborations with Moor Mother, Natasha Kmeto, and Nosaj Thing, among others.

It has been ten years since you received the Pew Fellowship in 2007. How has your work evolved over the last decade?

Every day I am growing into myself as an artist. When I received the Pew Fellowship, I was still really starting to fall into place as an artist. It was then that I shifted my vision a bit to think about how to bridge the club world with the academic world. This led me to curating “MOONDANCE: A Night in the AfroFuture” at MoMA PS1 in 2014, and FringeArts’ music series “Late Night” with Kate Watson-Wallace (Pew Fellow, 2007) as part of the 2015 Fringe Festival. My creative practice grew as I gravitated heavily toward my compositions and as I started looking at myself as a composer of electronic music, rather than just a producer/DJ. Additionally, my live show presentations have become that much stronger. For example, I recently collaborated with Jamaaladeen Tacuma (Pew Fellow, 2011) on a live performance for Morocco’s Festival Gnaoua et Musiques du Monde.

What are you working on right now? Is there an upcoming project you’re particularly excited about?

I am finishing the second album in my Fhloston Paradigm project, After…, which has taken me unexpectedly into the experimental electronic realm. I’m honored to have The Wire give the last album, The Electric Fields, an amazing review. After… will be one of post-club regeneration; the continuation of my sci-fi futurist compositions. The new album is a record consisting of polyrhythmic primal energy through unexpected process.

Whose opinion about your work do you respect most?

I really never get caught up in that stuff. Knowing my peers respect and support what I do is enough for me really.

If you could collaborate with anyone alive today, who would it be?

This is an extremely difficult question because I have been lucky to work with many heroes. The only artist that truly still excites me is Grace Jones. I would love to produce an album with her.

What are the primary vehicles you use to support your practice—what makes it possible?

My focus on my path is number one. Through meditation I really tap into the place in myself where I channel everything I need. From there all falls into place. Intention is key. There are still continuous struggles but this is what it's all about—duality.

In reflecting back to the beginning of your career, what is the most useful advice you ever received?

One of my best friends Dozia said, "Always be up and coming, never be on top." Really wise words because you will always grow by pushing higher. On top, the only way is down.