By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
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By Emily Weiss
To those outside the Minneapolis house DJ circle, Karl Who?'s moniker may come off as some kind of knock-knock joke. To dance-music revelers around the Twin Cities, however, the DJ's club and rave sets and mix CDs are much anticipated--perhaps because this Madison transplant hasn't obnoxiously pushed himself upon the already oversaturated local market with innumerable gigs and half-ass mixes. After releasing last year's dancefloor-dizzying House Is a Home, he waited until April to release his latest, Even Prime.
Karl Who?'s second mix CD is a groover's dream with its more mature, Latin-tinged flavorings and tracks by such lauded house producers as Mazi, Deaf n' Dumb Crew, and Kenny Dope. We chatted it up with the DJ about Miss Cleo, late night voicemails from DJ Alfredo, and how Even Prime reflects his local success.
CITY PAGES: How is Even Prime different from House Is a Home, and what does the album mean for your career? Any milestones achieved here?
KARL WHO?: Although I can't pick favorites, I would think that Even Prime is a little more listenable than House Is a Home. Especially if house music isn't necessarily your main thing. The tracks I've chosen for EP are more substantial in their production, so they sound good even when you're not out at the club. There are some records out there that are great for really working a live audience, but their crowd-pleasing value is lost on a mix CD. Even Prime is a natural progression for me because the sound is a little more grown-up, but I still managed to get plenty of funk and thump on the disk. It's a milestone for me on so many levels.
CP:What do you think differentiates you from other established house DJs in Minneapolis?
WHO: They play out more than me! Ha. If anything, I suppose I would say that I have been a music fanatic since birth. And lately I've been spending my time listening to tons of old funk records. That's where it all comes from, and I guess I find that I'm more confident as a house DJ when I know I'm not playing a record that samples that cheesy GQ track for the millionth time.
CP: What's unique about the tracks featured here?
WHO: Most of the records are pretty obscure from a mainstream perspective. When I dropped the CDs off at a store that shall go unnamed, the clerk looked at the track listing and commented that he had never heard of any of the artists on the disc. Honestly, I sort of took it as a compliment. Who needs another Now That's What I Call a Hot Dance Mix 2003 CD anyway?
CP: On House Is a Home you and some buddies jokingly questioned Miss Cleo's clairvoyant abilities. No Miss Cleo references this time?
WHO: Last I heard, she was being sued for misrepresentation or something. She's got enough to deal with without me making fun of her again on my CD. Did you see when the local news did an exposé on her and followed her around the grocery store in Florida? Now that's what I call journalism!