Every city has its musical heroes. Some may have a sound or image, synonymous with a movement, time and place. For others, it might be less about setting trends and more about setting the scene.
As a veteran DJ and producer, creator and owner of Alpha Pup records, and co-founder of the now world infamous Low End Theory nights, Kevin Marques Moo, known as Daddy Kev, has humbly taken part in shaping the underground musical landscape of the city, helping it to grow into one of the most influential, fruitful, and internationally recognized scenes of its kind today.
For this long time resident, Los Angeles’ stance as a unique cultural epicenter has played a big part in how he has chosen to curate his life – not just musically, but also through a passion for good food, as a family man, and as a self confessed comic books lover, amongst other things. Clash took the opportunity spend time with the reverential local music figure to find out more about how the city has influenced him, how it has made his community so prolific, and why there really is no place like home.
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Undoubtedly most of his time in recent years has been spent at Alpha Pup (online) HQ, based in the easy-going, popular neighborhood of Silverlake. Nearly 10 years in, the label has helped extend the reach of some of LA’s most visionary individuals and collectives, with a roaster including some of the city’s finest producers and DJs.
With the new Cosmic Zoo Studios (online) situated just above, co-run with Low End Theory host and seeming effortlessly faultless rapper Nocando (aka James McCall), the Alpha Pup HQ has seen important part of the city’s musical traffic come through its doors.
While Alpha Pup rules the day, by night we find ourselves in the unremarkable area of Lincoln Heights, a far cry from the main strips of the Hollywood meat markets and nightlife. Entering its seventh year, and already a Mecca for beat heads worldwide and music aficionados of all kinds, Low End Theory (online) nights at the Airliner pull in an open-minded crowd, with affordable drinks and food, and multiple courtyard spaces never failing to remind us of California’s relaxed weed laws.
LA is known for being an extensive urban sprawl, with little public transport, so when people do go out of their way it has to be for something meaningful. From putting on the likes of Flying Lotus, Nosaj Thing and Gaslamp Killer at the genesis of their current musical paths, Low End now has guests from various elements of a worldwide scene. Connecting the dots with the city’s most progressive performers and artists, along with the lack of pretension and a music focused volume policy, its apparent that Low End’s notoriety is less as a getaway from the mainstream bustle of the city, but more as a weekly pilgrimage to a worldwide movement in itself.
After a hotbox night of intricately curated sounds, squeezing through packed crowds and corridors, the next natural direction is towards one of the West Coast’s (and arguably the world’s) most reputable record stores. Daddy Kev has been going to the Amoeba store in San Francisco with his parents since he was a kid. When the even larger LA branch opened in the middle of Hollywood, it quickly became, and still is, one of the best places in town to acquire gems of all kinds of media. Not to mention one of the few places where you can bring music of your own making to be bought up and placed for sale in the store’s racks.
If building an appetite for music wasn’t enough, LA also has a reputation for providing a seemingly limitless range of foods. As one of the most diverse places in the country, you can pretty much get anything you want from Koreatown to Little Armenia, Chinatown to Compton. For Kevin, growing up in city such a large Mexican population, the first choice is to hit up some of the city’s finest taco spots. With generations of Mexican culture weaved into the fabric of the city, taquerías are one of the Angeleno’s favorites and are usually easy to find, from street stalls to food trucks, pop-up stands, cafes to deluxe restaurants. El Siete Mares on Sunset Boulevard proves the prime choice cut for the day, with fish tacos coming highly recommended.
One last niche of Daddy Kev’s hometown that we’re invited to share comes from his childhood love for graphic novels. LA has a selection of comic book stores with some heavyweight stock, which have interestingly played their own role in shaping his interpretation of the music community he has helped build. Bands of heroes like crews, labels and concept albums like “multi-issue story arcs”, easily translating into the way artists’ career paths and releases come to fruition. Some, fulfilling an ‘arc’ in one album; others, doing so over years of releases, from one graphic novel fan to another. If you come to LA he can definitely recommend Golden Apple in Hollywood.
Whatever you’re into, LA can sometimes feel like an extensive sun-filled maze of innumerable haunts, hang outs, food, hobbyist and music hotspots, all spread out between box architecture laced with criss-crossing freeways.
For the tastemakers of the city, these seemingly endless corridors are what inspire them to create avenues for people to connect, helping scenes grow, independent to the media centric potency of the city. Indeed, for Kevin, the underground musical community speaks for itself; its creative minds would always have found their own way out there. From the diversity, the contrasts and even layout of the city, it has never lacked for space for inspiration, but there’s no doubt that without individuals like him, the city’s musical resonance would not be the same.
Influencing each other along the way, Daddy Kev’s love for LA may be just one side of the many stories the city has to offer. But it is definitely one for which music heads can all be truly grateful for, worldwide.
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Words and photography: Fabrice Bourgelle (website)