By Stephanie Stevens
(HED) PE was so influential during the highest point of the East Coast Romper. Not only was it like Christmas listening to the band’s music every time they released new albums, but they also made memories for me, be it with friends just hanging out, it seemed their music was a major background statement piece for so many years in my life! But what actually meant the world was getting to know and becoming friends with the band members themselves. From Oz fests festivities back in the day to the fun small club tours these guys got the party going and it was always a good time and to be honest I don’t think I missed a show in the New England area ever!
Through the years I have manage to stay in contact with band members be it they are not a part of the band anymore but they are still in my life at some capacity and when I hear that they are back into making music you know I am all up in the business to get the word out and catch up with the guys.
So that leads me to this newest interview, Kenny Da Finga is a man who was the startup of the brilliant (HED) PE with is fun, unique and crafty use of samples, loops mixed into the world of rock/rap that heated up back in the day! So many bands follow the bands lead and so many fans came to admire and fall in love with the music and the people behind the music.
Not only is Ken a man of music but he also has been so passionate about the world of video production, where he has made a career for himself; but in 2020 his life turned back to music! He was re-united again with old members of (HED) PE and began writing and releasing some killer new music. I was given a sneek peak to his newest single REVOLUTION BY A DIFFERENT NAME which then led me to other tracks I fell in love with entitled KING FOR A DAY and MY FORWARD HEART. He has united with other astounding musicians which are lending hands to his new creations and the whole project seems to be coming along very well. So with all this new music happening I needed to catch up with the man himself and found out some details on his background of the start of (HED) pe, his life in music along with video production and what the future entails for the new music
Q: For people who might not know your background tell us how you got into music and How you began with (Hed) PE
A: After taking an electronic music course in college, I purchased a Roland Workstation. About the same time, my friend (and roommate) Wes said he was starting a new band that was going to mix rock with rap. At that time Rage Against The Machine was the only band mixing the 2 genres. Wes wanted samples and loops in the music and asked if I wanted to be part of it. I got my stage name from triggering samples from my Roland keyboard.
Q: How hard was it back in 2006 to “retire” from being an artist making music and focus on doing live events and Video production for other people creating art you use to make?
A: My career in video and live production began 5 years before I was in a band, While in (hed)pe I had production commitments and deadlines which eventually lead to my dismissal from the band. I had 2 post-(hed)pe bands that came close to getting record deals.. but in 2006, my 2nd child was born and I just had to focus on making a living. I missed rehearsing, writing with friends and playing live but I continued to write hip hop beats at home for fun.
Q: Since video production is another passion of yours and a business you have to tell people a little bit about what you do and how they can get in touch if they need anything in the format?
A: Living in Orange County, CA, most of my video and live event work has been for all the corporations that are in the area. But, I have had the opportunity to work as a camera operator on a few concerts in the past… Tom Petty, The Wallflowers, Willie Nelson… to name a few. I’ve also worked freelance on a couple of reality tv shows as a media manager, playback operator and camera operator. Most of the corporations I’ve worked with are still afraid to do anything because of Covid. Since the touring industry is opening up, I’m looking to expand in that area. Best way to contact me for video/live event work is through LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/ken-
Q: Your new single REVOLUTION BY A DIFFERENT NAME came to be in the pandemic shit storm, one good thing to come out of 2020. Other than being quarantined what made you even start to wrestle with the idea of creating again?
A: I occasionally would sit at my home studio and write hip hop beats. One day as I was doing that, my daughter came into the room and said “you should write a guitar song”. That is what actually got me going. I started working on what would be my first release (in April 2020), King For A Day.
Q: What made you come up with the song name and what do you hope the future entails with the release of this track?
A: My vocalist on this track, Andrew Freeman (from Last In Line) wrote the lyrics. The title is from the chorus. I was thinking about all those crazy riots that were happening in 2020 when I wrote the music. I had mentioned that to Andrew and when I heard what he wrote I was like “Yes!”. DJ Product called me when he finished tracking and said “I can totally hear this on a soundtrack”. That would be killer.
Q: With the new single you did something pretty epic in getting a whole HED musician lineup back together. How did that seem to fall into place and what was the best memory you remember from the old days and what new memory other than the track did you make from this current event?
A: Jackson Benge, (hed)pe guitarist 2004-2015, said to me years ago “if you ever want me to lay down some tracks, let me know”. I was the one who introduced him to the band after playing with him in a short lived project in 2002. So once I wrote the demo of the song, I messaged him and he was totally down. Once he laid his tracks, I thought it would be cool to have some other ex-members on the track. I reached out to Mark (Young), DJ Product and Tiny Bubz (Anthony Biuso) and they all said yes. I then asked Andrew if he’d be interested in singing on the track. I met him on the first (hed)pe/nonpoint tour back in 2001. My best memories from the old days were the live shows. My first 3 gigs ever performing in front of an audience were opening for Korn, Deftones and Sublime. Never played a party or dive bar. It was straight to being in front of a sold out crowd, Crazy! As for a new memory.. It was just great collaborating with old friends.
Q: So how many other tracks have you finished and did the lineup that did this single contribute to everything you have done and if not are you looking for different Collaborations for the project you’re putting together if that is where you mind is going?
A: Revolution By A Different name is my 3rd single. I released 2 tracks last year, “King for a Day” and “My Forward Heart”. My vocalist from my last band, Halfton, sang on both. My 2nd track, I brought in producer Bob Varo to not only produce and mix but to collaborate as well. Bob Varo also produced and mixed this new track. I have 1 other track already finished, “Stay”, that I will release soon after Revolution. “Stay” is self-produced, I tracked everything myself except drums and I have a couple of session vocalists on it. I’m currently working on my 5th solo track. I might ask some friends to collaborate
Q: With the music industry changing so drastically since back in the day, what are the things you are looking at on a business side if you do throw yourself into the artistry again that you would have never thought about back in the 2000s era?
A: I’m not looking for a deal… to be famous… whatever. I’m just having fun writing and recording again. It’s crazy that kids are getting singed off of YouTube and TikTok. These kids don’t know the struggle we had to deal with!
Q: If you could sit down and write a song with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and what kind of genre do you think the final product would be if you could do anything?
A: This might sound cliché.. but I would love to get together with the OG lineup of (hed)pe one more time. I think of the early days before it became a business… and it was just 7 guys in a room being creative, feeding off each other’s energy, having fun and writing some cool tracks. Miss that.
Q: If your current day self could give advice to your 25-year-old self, what would you tell him and do you think he would take the advice you give him?
A: I would tell myself to forget about those video gigs.. to focus more on the music. The video work was there after the OG lineup of hed disbanded. I used to hop on the tour bus and go out with them if I was in between projects. It would’ve been cool to play those tours.
Q: What else if any that I missed can you let fans of your or new music lovers know about the future of your music and yourself and how can people stay in touch with your music side?
A: I’m going to keep on writing. Before summer is over I’m hoping to have 2 more tracks released. Hopefully I’ll have more collaborators on future tracks. People can follow me at facebook.com/kennydafinga for updates!