Take one look at DJ Kio Kio (given name: Carlo Chiocchio) and you'll understand why OUT Magazine chose him as the hottest spinner in the country. Windy City Times/Identity recently talked with the provocative Ontario native—who'll be at Sound-Bar on October 3—and discussed predicting musical trends, maintaining that body, and having the coolest mom on the planet.
Windy City Times: What was it like growing up in Canada?
DJ Kio Kio: I'm originally from North Bay, Ontario, which is about three hours north of Toronto. There were very cold winters and very warm summers. It was the typical middle-class lifestyle. We enjoyed the outdoors. It's a city of 52,000 so it's very sheltered. It didn't have dance clubs or music along those lines. However, I became open to alternative, R&B, and disco. My mom played tons of disco.
WCT: She sounds cool!
DKK: She would wake us up playing the stereo! She'd play classic disco—and even some underground tunes—while dancing around and making breakfast.
I have a very hip mom. When I came out of the closet and DJ'ed in Miami Beach, I flew her down for her birthday and she came to the after-hours where I spun. She slept all day, got up at 4 a.m., and sat in my booth the whole night.
WCT: What was the first record you ever bought?
DKK: The first record I remember getting was the J. Geils Band's 'Freeze Frame.' It was a 45. The first compilation I ever got was Tina Turner's Private Dancer.
WCT: What do you think are the best and worst musical trends ever?
DKK: I can't say that there are any bad musical trends. Music is such a great form of expression that everyone's entitled to their own flavor. Generally, I like everything [including] classical, dance, and alternative.
WCT: Who are your musical influences?
DKK: Danny Tenaglia is one of the greatest DJs/producers ever. He maintains a certain sound no matter what genre he attacks. I also have a tremendous amount of respect for Little Louie Vega. His Latin/house [material] is amazing. As a DJ, he's incredible to listen to. As a producer, some of his stuff is just remarkable.
WCT: Where have you been outside the United States?
DKK: I just had my first international gig in Singapore; it was remarkable. I played for 1,600 gay guys on a little secluded island with lights and sound [as well as] a rope bridge that seemed to be straight out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. People had to travel single-file. That's been my only international gig so far.
WCT: What's been your favorite city in North America to DJ in?
DKK: So far, my favorite cities have been San Francisco and Miami. The boys in San Francisco are just different, musically speaking. Miami is where I began my DJ career, which I did while doing my residency. Some of the parties were off the hook; people just lived for the music.
WCT: What are the best and worst parts of your job?
DKK: The best part definitely is getting a [positive] reaction from the crowd. I spend hours in a record shop searching for something that triggers a reaction within me and say, 'People have to hear this bass line.' When I get a reaction, that is the enthralling thing.
On the flip side, the worst part is the fact that you can't please everybody. Some people will comment about something. I'm only human and I'm good at blocking things out. However, I'm also a perfectionist and I want everyone to have a good time. If people come to the booth and complain, I get upset. It's like they're not giving the song [I play] a chance.
For me, DJing has been about returning the feeling I got from other DJs. All I want to do is have fun with people and see them walking out with smiles on their faces. That's what DJing is all about.
WCT: Where do you see the future of dance music? House music, for example, seems to be making a big comeback.
DKK: I think everything goes in cycles. When you get new blood on the scene, kids start listening to what we listened to a while ago. I see small trends. For instance, on the international scene, there's definitely an electroclash/'80s sound being added to house music. However, there's so much room now that people can take samples and revamp them. You can take one sound and turn it into a million different things.
WCT: How did you feel when you discovered that OUT had chosen you for its Hot 100 list?
DKK: [Gently laughs] I was shocked and embarrassed. I usually don't take to things like that very well. I'm basically a shy person. When someone says you're going to be named the hottest DJ of the year, it's like 'Ugh.' It's flattering and opens doors, though. OUT is an incredible publication.
WCT: You're pretty fit. How do you squeeze in exercise considering how busy you are?
DKK: I've exercised regularly since I was 14. During lunch breaks in high school, I was the only one doing a full-body workout. I was competing on a fairly high level [in track and field]. Exercising's been ingrained in my system for a long time.
When I finished university and stopped competing, I couldn't keep working out for five hours a day. So, Monday through Friday, my boyfriend and I go to the gym and work out. We work out one body part a day and rest on weekends. After a couple of months, we'll switch up. We'll do a couple of body parts a day and then switch again. We also do cardio 2-3 times a week. We adhere to the schedules very tightly.
WCT: Do you stick to that schedule even when you go to other cities?
DKK: Yes. When I travel, it's usually on Saturdays and Sundays. I just go for the night and come back. However, if I travel a long distance, I definitely stick with the workout. When I went to Singapore, I thought I'd have jet lag. However, I got up at 5:30 in the morning and did my workouts.
If I miss a day, I feel really guilty. That's actually a good thing because it keeps me on my toes.
I want to add that I'm getting certified because I want to do some fitness training on the side. I'm very interested in fitness.
WCT: You're coming to Chicago soon. Do you plan on doing anything here?
DKK: I've only been to Chicago once. (Six years ago, I was there for a Hearts Foundation party.) I'll probably just check out the city; it's beautiful.
WCT: Out of curiosity, what did you major in at York University [in Toronto]?
DKK: I majored in urban geography.
WCT: Wow ... I thought I made a leap. [Both laugh]
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