When people say Chicago has the history but not the future, they’re probably not tuned in to the fierce undercurrent of hardworking artists that have been diligently plowing away at their craft.
Keith Rafael Perez aka Kid Enigma is a prime example of a young DJ who caught the bug early, got his musical education at clubs he was too young to attend, and in a few years has already amassed an impressive amount of releases. With the happy addition of children and a new family, Kid Enigma has found even more inspiration and discipline to continue the upward trajectory that he’s been on.
I’ve seen you get down at many a dancefloor! Weren’t you a b-boy at some point in your background? I know that you used to spin Hip-hop and would often be a guest DJ at b-boy battles…
I definitely used to be b-boy in high school, but I never did it competitively. I was more interested in the culture of Hip-Hop and I enjoy dancing in general (especially to House and Hip-Hop). I became much more interested in dancing to House music after my first time at Boom Boom Room. The circle would start, and every little piece of stress inside of me would break off onto the floor–it was beautiful.
I did not frequent b-boy battles to breakdance, but I did DJ at battles when asked to do so – usually they were House battles.
I always assumed that your name came from a combination of both your starting out so young, and that perhaps you were more on the quiet side? Thus… Enigma?
Yes, the “kid” portion of my DJ moniker stems from the fact that I started to DJ at the age of 14. By the time I was 15 years old I had rotating residencies, and promoters were familiarizing themselves with me because of my young age and my ability to play comfortably in front of large crowds.
The “Enigma” portion of my DJ nickname, however, derived from the open format of the music I was mixing at the time. As a teenager, I could not choose the musical path I wanted to pursue. The open format circuit offered me endless opportunities and it will always be in demand, but in the end, I realized that it was not for me because I wanted to be involved in an industry with creative freedom. Enigma was also [generally] influenced by “Shades of Dank,” which I heard at Zentra for the first time. After that, there was no question about it – 4/4 ruled my heart.
A few years ago you were quite on the music-making and DJing streak, putting out tons of stuff on your B Natural label and other labels as well. Then all of a sudden I didn’t see you out as much. Was it to take care of your child and family? Or were you quietly hammering away at your music and forging new musical alliances?
Yes, when I co-founded B Natural my business partner and I were putting out a lot of music, which lead to me being signed on to other labels and to build relationships with the 1200 Warriors, DJ Sneak, Mark Farina, Derrick Carter and many more. However, for me, family comes first before “the dream” or any hustle. Creativity thrives in limitations, and so I limit the time I spend writing because I have a wonderful family I love to spend time with. Having a family has simply made my life so much more enjoyable – I love my wife and kids and if it were not for them, I probably would have never found the discipline needed to do what I do or cared about the language used in my music.
Being the change you wish to see in the world starts within yourself. As an artist, I overlooked that portion because I was simply having too much “fun.” My family inspires me, gives me courage, and has helped mold who I am today.
My wife supports me in every way possible. Her unconditional support has allowed me to endlessly experiment with my creativity and the next stage of my musical career. That is how I have been able to quietly hammer away music for the past two years and forge new relationships with other people such as Suol Boy T (Till Von Sein). It has come to the point where I would rather write music every day (at least 15 minutes), but if I can, I will go six hours or until I pass out.
I noticed that you just did a remix for Till Von Sein, how did that come about?
Yes, Till Von Sein charted “Find Me” two years ago, which is how we connected. Moving forward to 2015, I let him know that I wanted to work with him. He threw a beat my way a week later, and asked me to write a song with a certain “subject” in mind. So I did, and he ran with the project. It was awesome to work with him, and I’ll do again and again and again.
I’ll never forget how I would videotape certain DJs during their sets and by synchronicity they would be playing your track “Dangerous” – remember the footage I had of Derrick Carter and Jesse Rose rocking it? I remember hearing it several times this year in many sets. Aside from this track, were there any tracks that you would consider “breakthrough” songs that really put your name out there outside of the usual DJs that showed you love?
I believe that the first track that gave me quite a few looks was “Find Me.” Von Stroke gave me a nod on that one, which led to a lot of attention. “On The Ropes” was a song I wrote partly to speak from a struggle and to give thanks to those who have greatly inspired me. Derrick did his wonderful retouch on that one. “Shoelaces” brought me a lot of feature requests, including “For Club Use” with Ballast which was released on Dirtybird.
“Dangerous” was the last solo track that I did which garnered great feedback including a retouch by Derrick. As he says, “They get the edit”.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Are you interested in DJing more or focusing on producing?
I am playing at Charivari in Detroit this year. I very excited to play in Detroit again, it’s been way too long. I do intend to play out more, but my focus is deep into my original work. I have been enjoying my creative process now more than ever. I have also linked up with a new select few to collaborate with, so I will continue to work. One song, one track, one idea at a time. Stay positive.