If you ever get the chance to sit down with McKenzie Eddy and it starts to feel like you’re wasting her time, it's because you probably are. This isn’t her projection, she will be present in every way, but when you get to know her, how talented she is, you’ll feel like she should be doing anything but talking to you. This isn’t her projection either, she's humble in every way, but it will make you realize that maybe you’re wasting your time too and that to sit and talk about the creative is delaying you from actually going out and doing something yourself. What she hopes, is that you will, and that her space King Dusko on King Street will be a place that helps you do it.
Prior to opening King Dusko a little under a year ago, McKenzie lived in New York City for six years, working as an assistant to Damon Dash, the then-president of Roc-A-Fella Records. Before long they started their own indie label, and as it grew McKenzie was able to head a creative agency with a music and art division, while also touring with her own material.
HG: What was your relationship to hip-hop before working with Damon Dash?
ME: I grew up listening to it, and it had a pretty big influence on me as a musician and an artist. I listened to a lot of Jay-Z. Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Common, Lauryn Hill. A lot of soul stuff, too, Erykah Badu.
HG: I always liked the more cerebral rappers. Talib Kweli.
ME: He’s awesome.
HG: Lupe Fiasco.
ME: Him, too.
HG: Have you met them?
ME: Most of them, yeah. We did a project called Blakroc with The Black Keys and a bunch of different rappers, so I met most of those guys, RZA and Mos Def. Just awesome people. Originally we wanted to get Jim Jones (The Diplomats), and he didn’t make it that day, but we had been hanging out with Mos Def, so we called and got him in the room. Then we started adding more and more people to the bill.
HG: When did you start playing music?
ME: Around 14. I was in a band in high school called JP3, Just Past Three, because there were four us. We were very witty people. Then at college orientation, I was in orientation line and met this guy named Liam...
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HG: ... What is it about that? Everyone seems to have a college orientation story like that.
ME: I know, totally weird. We became really good friends and he introduced me to another guy, Sean O’Connell, who I ended up working with for years, and we formed a band called Stealing from Bandits. When I moved to New York we didn’t talk for a couple years, but about two years after I moved, Sean called and asked if I’d sing on one of his records. He moved to New York and we did a ton of stuff together. He was a big reason why I ended up working with the rapper Curren$y. So I never really stopped working on music stuff.
HG: Why the move to Charleston?
ME: I came down here and knew I wanted to open a space. It wasn’t like I made a big decision one day, but I was going back and forth between here and New York once every five weeks and decided I didn’t want to do it anymore… It’s hard to make a plan. You have a vision, try your best to execute it, and you have no idea what’s going to happen—you just have to let it happen. To try to control all the aspects and elements around you doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t work. You’re just going to be frustrated all the time.
HG: I compare Charleston to New York some times. There are some parallels there. There are boroughs—you have James Island, West Ashley, downtown. You go down to Folly.
ME: That’s true.
HG: And in the same way that people think New York is tough because it is so big, Charleston is kind of a reversal of that—it’s so small and such a bubble that you really have to be the best to get real attention. Because the scene is small, there aren’t as many shows.
ME: Totally true. There’s not a lot of room—that’s the thing. Like with local versus New York restaurants—in New York, you can walk into a restaurant, and it’ll be shitty. There are so many people and tourists that someone may come in and they’ll never come back. Here, you better have a good restaurant or you’re not going to stay open—the town’s not big enough. Which is cool. For me, artistically and with my business, you still have to be great. In New York if you want to be great, you have to be the greatest among millions of people. Here, you have to be great among a small amount of people, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
HG: What would you say the culture is at King Dusko?
ME: There’s a lot of young artists coming here, and I like that, because they can contribute to the space just by buying a coffee, or a tea, or a beer, and feel like they have a community where they can come and work and be around each other. I want people to know that this is space where I like to help people execute the things that they think and dream about.
HG: So much of that is about access.
ME: Yeah, just come here, talk to me. Ask: Who is a good video guy? Who plays piano well? If I don’t know, someone else who kicks it in here might.
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McKenzie has plans to keep Dusko evolving. Look forward to the addition of chicken pot pies and mince pies to the menu, a revamping of the backyard, and possibly an outdoor bar. If you would like to hear McKenzie play around Charleston, you can catch her Wednesdays at The Rarebit and Sundays at Warehouse. She will also be doing a side project with singer-songwriter Angie Aparo this spring.