Interview: Kode9 (Exclusive to Haarp Media!)

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It’s impossible to talk about UK bass music in any great depth without bringing up producer, DJ, label owner, bass music pioneer and all-round good guy Kode9.

Kode9 owns label Hyperdub, widely regarded by bass music lovers worldwide as equal to labels like Warp and Cocoon, and has illuminated such artists as Burial, DJ Rashad and Zomby.

As a producer and DJ, he has led the world through 2-step, garage, dubstep, juke and other bass sounds, and his sets on RinseFM and BBC 1 with the vocal backings of mystic man Space Ape are the stuff legends are made of.

Starstruck Haarp Media guy Kristian Hatton interviewed the man himself, and discovered where Kode 9 has been, and now where he’s at…

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1. What is the best way to describe your overall sound in these days and times, and how does it differ from your older sound as a producer?

I don’t know if you know that dish called bubble’n’squeak, where all the kitchen leftovers and mixed together and fried. That’s what I do now, bubble’n’squeak. Tastes great, but will probably kill you in the long run.

2. What in your words is juke music, and do you think the UK sound can influence its direction much?

Juke is a form of fast, party-centric ghetto house or US club music that evolved in Chicago from the 1990s onwards. Footwork was a style of combative dance that emerged out of that scene and has gradually developed its own, more fractured sound. Key producers are RP Boo, Traxman, Rashad and Spinn among many others.

The UK has inflected some of those producers with a bit more of a jungle sound as the tempos are pretty similar. There is a two-way flow of ideas but whether that leads to anything interesting coming from the UK is an open question right now. The jury is out.

3. What direction do you see electronic music going in the future?

I’ve recently been doing some sound installations using wearable vibration pads called Subpacs. I would love play at a rave where everyone is wearing these, not instead of having sub woofers, but as well as. I would like to see the gap between hearing sound, and feeling sound continue to narrow in this way.

4. You have been described as a DJ’s DJ. Do you see yourself as such?

Not really. But I can be quite demanding of crowds sometimes.

5. Your record label Hyperdub has released nearly 80 records. What has been the record label’s aim and how do you see this as differing from what other labels do?

It’s released around 90 singles actually (all my stuff is released with the HYP catalog number while all the other stuff is HDB) and over 20 albums. The original aim was just to release my own music, but that idea got scrapped after a year in 2005, when I released the first Burial stuff.

I think over the lifespan of the labels (10 years in 2014), we’ve developed down a few parallel tracks, so there isn’t really one sound, but rather four or five.

6. So what was it like being in London at the time the dubstep sound started taking off?

(It was) pretty funny. I saw it move from dark, dub or dancehall influenced garage from back in 1999 through to the early Fwd» nights which really were just attended by a handful of DJs and producers through to huge parties at DMZ, and then national and international exposure. It’s not often you get to witness that kind of evolution so closely.

7. What was your reaction when guys like Skrillex came on the scene and changed how dubstep was fundamentally seen?

(It) wasn’t my thing really, but in retrospect that mutation of dubstep was a blunted metal battering ram to bludgeon Americans into drugs and dance music. On that level, it was a force for good.

But by the time that sound happened, I’d kind of lost a lot of love for dubstep as a whole anyway, and by 2009 I was more influenced by the styles of house that were around in London at that moment (UK funky).

8. Are your live performances more spontaneous or rehearsed? What can we expect?

I usually know how I’m starting and how I’m ending, and the bit in the middle happens in the heat of the moment.

9. Are you excited about coming to Melbourne? Is there anything that draws you here in terms of culture, sounds or artists?

Well, the last time I was there was in 2006 when I was lecturing at Red Bull Music Academy, so I’m really looking forward to coming back after all this time.

10. What other hobbies do you have apart from music? Any other creative pursuits, reading, video.

I collect lucky and unlucky cats.

You can catch Kode9 as well as other top international electronic acts at Let Them Eat Cake 2014. For more information, visit LTEC’s website.

I’d love to give a big shout-out to Walter Juan and the Cake team for letting a little local blog play host to a huge interview. Thanks so much!

Written by Kristian Hatton.

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