There are plenty of DJs who are masters at giving people exactly what they want. After all, it's kinda their job. But on a Thursday night inside Mesa's tiny barroom dance floor with dim light and swanky ambiance, Kedd Cook hopes to give the crowd a little bit of what they need. On this night, that means introducing a diehard OC dance crowd to New York DJ Nutritious, a rising star on the East Coast house scene who just opened for downtempo demigod Mark Farina at Playhouse in Hollywood. It's the kind of rare import most smaller clubs and indie promoters would kill for, not only for his notoriety, but also for his chops as a DJ. And the man born Ian Michael Alexander knows that choosing quality, intellectually adept EDM only makes him and his weekly residency stand out more.
Working with a lot of tastemaker DJs playing vinyl and rare tracks from either old funk soul to deep house, Alexander has the ability to peg artists who can throw down on deep house to old-school funk and downtempo grooves. This sets the perfect vibe for the Modern Disco Ambassadors, the event-production company he started with promoter/partner William Brenden Thomas, bringing rare and different forms of electronic music you don't normally hear at the big clubs. Alexander works on the creative side of things while Thomas flexes his business savvy to bring real house music to Orange County.
"Sometimes, you have a promoter who only wants to make money and an artist who wants to be creative, but we both are very understanding of each other and know what it takes to make it work," says Alexander. "We still keep it fun while at the same time pushing the envelope with new music that's very different in this area."
Life after being named Best DJ by OC Weekly in 2010 has been good for the Newport Beach native, who grew up in a family for whom, he says, money was tight. The 26-year-old has been throwing underground warehouse parties since 2007 and been the resident DJ at La Cave's infamous hipster and DJ night on Wednesdays since teaming up with Thomas in 2009. He is also the house DJ on Thursdays at Mesa Lounge and now Fridays at Detroit Bar.
A career built around glossy excess and decadent big-budget parties is all pretty exhilarating for a young lad. Even after playing Insomniac's Electric Daisy Carnival Wide Awake Cart last year and every major club in OC, his success hasn't reached full-swing. He and Thomas have been focusing on bringing the sounds they love from Brazil, Ibiza and other parts of Europe to their hometown.
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Alexander locks himself in the studio, on a mission to record as much of his music as possible. The more-than-two-year process of putting together an EP shows his commitment to his craft. "I want to try to find my own sound and produce something that I will like for the rest of my life," Alexander says. Yet he hopes he will be finished with four to five tracks in the next couple of months. With the connections he has made over the years, it's only a matter of time before Kedd Cook's debut EP gets picked up by a major dance-music label.
"Everyone goes through phases, and as long as you keep an open mind and are always on to the next thing, then that's where you will be happy," he says. "I'm going to find something constantly that will blow my mind and draw me in that direction."
Kedd Cook performs with Richy Ahmed and Wobs at Focus Tuesdays at Tapas, 4253 Mar-tingale Way, Newport Beach, (949) 756-8194; www.Focus-OC.com. Tues., 9:30 p.m. $7.50. 18+. For more info on Kedd Cook, visit www.facebook.com/keddcookmusic.