Q&A with DJ Kimbarely Legal, who pairs percussion with beats

DJ Kimbarely Legal playing at the Eighth Street Taproom. Photo by Paul Becker.

DJ Kimbarely Legal playing at the Eighth Street Taproom. Photo by Paul Becker. by Jessica Sain-Baird

DJ Kimbarely Legal's sets don't just necessitate records, headphones, and the typical DJ setup—she also depends on percussion. Under her DJ moniker, Kimberly Simonetti hosts a monthly dance party called DJ vs Drums every first Friday of the month at the Eighth Street Taproom (the event is taking a hiatus in December, but will begin again in January). She also hosts a monthly gig at the Replay Lounge from May through November.

Take a look at her DJ setup and listen to her music in the videos below, and read her thoughts on drumming, DJing, and the local music scene from an interview with me and Chance Dibben.

On her DJ philosophy: "I started out and I just wanted to do dance parties. I really just wanted to throw down for my friends. As I've gotten into other kinds of music, and as I've gotten heavier into the drumming, it really just took an influence on my DJing. It was kind of a natural pairing. One of my friends already drummed with some DJs, and so when I got an afrobeat night at the Taproom, that’s kind of when everything came together. Since I am able to play with live instrumentation, it influences how I mix, what kind of music I play."

On her perception of the Lawrence music scene: "I love the camaraderie. That's one of my absolute favorite things. I've been able to meet so many different people. One of the reasons I can do what I do is because we have jazz musicians, and we've got DJs, and we've got rock folks, and we've got just this wide variety of people. You can come in and find your own niche as well. As far as the DJ scene goes, it's been around at least since DJ Konsept—Edwin Morales—and he really built that. He's definitely one of my influences, one of the reasons I started. The DJ scene is really friendly. People are out to support each other. I really love the Lawrence music scene. I've learned a lot here."

On drumming and DJing: "For me, they're two different huge dance cultures. DJing has been around for a while. You've got the electronic dance movement—DJing is dance culture. Drumming is also originally dance culture. It's the percussion, it's the bass, it holds down the rhythm section. So when you put a drummer with a DJ, it just instantly elevates the floor. They can add in those extra little things and interact with the dancers. For me, it's really exciting stuff. I've been learning a lot of the tunes that I spin and practicing on the drums, and learning through that. It really just shapes my sound, and everything’s just percussion-based cause I'm looking for the best grooves in all genres."

On how she met her instrumentalists: "I was taking drum lessons from a guy named Dylan Bassett, and I told him about my night at the Taproom. He said he had drummed with DJs before, and he came on. He's really, really good. He basically takes care of the percussion side—brings on people, decides what to play, what instrumentation, and all that kind of stuff. I feed him the music, we talk about different things we could do together, and basically since we've started the night, we've just built a rapport, figured out what we want to do, how we want to do it. I met these guys through Dylan and the African Drum Ensemble at KU. That’s where a lot of our drummers come from."

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