Finding peace and encouraging solidarity isn’t a trait that’s omnipresent in the world of electronic music as far as we’re concerned, but it certainly does exist in those who are still dreaming, and it’s this allurement that brings us to this weeks guest. His presence on the global techno stage over the years is a result of a relentless and solitary crusade that’s manufactured the creation of his own imprint, Asymmetric, which now plays host to an alternative view on not just the music itself, but the way it’s distributed and the psychology behind its consumption. These varying ideals challenge the foundations of the industry.
Having already concluded that a path least travelled presents itself with countless opportunities to progress that would otherwise be missed, he’s enforced a firm cooperative relationship between reengineering hardware and developing customised software – a redefining creative voyage that isn’t often undertaken. Now, if you were irresolute as to whether or not it’s feasible to harbour conceptual mercenaries, this will dissolve any skepticism.
This weeks broadcast is in the form of Inigo Kennedy.
Drugstore – The Birth [cicuta002]
Inigo Kennedy – Resist [unreleased]
Xhin – Vent (Pfirter Remix) [sa011]
Mike Parker – Fwd (Donato Dozzy Remix) [prg017]
Makaton – Paradise Lost [token013]
Inigo Kennedy – Yellow Leaf (v3) [unreleased]
Walker Kennedy – Untitled 02 [unreleased]
Death Abyss – The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste [mak032]
Exium – Frontline (Inigo Kennedy Remix) [nheoma011]
Inigo Kennedy – Nothing But Sun [unreleased]
Allan Nonamaka – Most Wrong [fvtd003]
Inigo Kennedy – Revenge (Blawan Remix) [token019]
Death Abyss – Love Is A Weakness [mak032]
Inigo Kennedy – Quagmire [token017]
Allan Nonamaka – The Essence [unreleased]
Donor – Em1 (Forward Strategy Group Remix) [pp033]
Stanislav Tolkachev – Negative Space [tua001]
Inigo Kennedy – The Map [token001]
Elektrabel – Hraju09 [poh007]
Lucy – Pentad [sma010]
Inigo Kennedy – Scatter [token019]
Inigo Kennedy – Untitled (2011_08_05) [unreleased]
Steve Bicknell – Why + For Whom (a1) [cos10]
Inigo Kennedy – Aldebaran [unreleased]
Kn: Your label Asymmetric hosted some of your best work. Is it an avenue you think you’ll reinvent, or are there deeper projects that you’d like to intertwine into your own ideals?
IK: In many ways Asymmetric was developed specifically to release work that I was very happy with but that was otherwise considered too risky or not commercially viable for other labels or organisations. I’ve always adopted the position of that being nothing but a compliment even if that might be misguided! This goes back more to the vinyl days when of course there are commercial pressures to take into account; vinyl is not cheap to manufacture or distribute. Asymmetric is a much more personal outlet too. If there’s one thing I want to achieve as a ‘brand’ it’s that Asymmetric is very personal music and quite distinctive.
For various reasons I adopted the digital avenue very early on and evolved Asymmetric the vinyl label to become Asymmetric|MP3. To me it was clear that this was the way things would go and I doubted then, as much as now, that the right business or commercial models would ever exist for the digital medium. For years there seemed to be people flailing around in the dark and, in my opinion, also adopting technology for the sake of it; the actual music suffered a lot. Historically too there were a whole lot of people in the middle that made far more (money) than I ever would from my music. Not necessarily the primary motivation but definitely unfair and unnecessary. Now I release the music for free via Asymmetric|MP3 and that’s something I feel reasonably strongly about. Many people still, although less so now, hold the opinion that this in some way devalues the ‘product’ and I think it’s a pity that that is the way things are. It’s been interesting to see people realise the inevitable over the last five to 10 years though.
Kn: On top of your consistent monthly podcasts, the pseudo-recent release of Trust – Acceptance involved yourself and other artists. A sign of solidarity between those involved no doubt as it’s a free release. What are your thoughts on it being something that should be incorporated more often?
IK: Oh yes! It’s been quite a commitment to produce 90 minute mix every month this year! Now that the latest TS0011 is done and there’s one more to go this year I haven’t yet decided which way things will go in 2012!
There’s an increasing amount of music made available for free and the quality is shooting up too. There are actually quite a lot of compilations and net labels around that have adopted a free distribution model. I’m not really sure if it’s a mark of solidarity or just a commercial reality; it wouldn’t be possible to do projects like that if there was a commercial angle; if there was one it would be basically pointless as everyone involved would take home about enough for half a beer. I think it’s good to encourage an attitude of generosity with people’s creativity. It’s also a way of moving away from constraints and let’s people release music that maybe they are really pleased with or that means a lot.
photo by k4
Kn: Your Asymmetric releases introduced quite a unique techno sound to the world right from the beginning. A sound that would distinctly become ‘Inigo Kennedy’. It was documented early on that you achieved this by rewiring the internals of your synthesizers in order to create unique textures. What fascinated you to get inside these machines to begin with? Do you still practice these techniques?
IK: I’ve certainly spent a fair but of time with a soldering iron in my hand! My early records were basically recorded to cassette through a mixer I built and part of my early sound was more or less down to a brutal filter unit I designed (it’s in the attic these days). I hacked together all sorts of guitar pedals, oscillators and so on back then as well (there are boxes of all sorts of electronic bits and bobs in the attic too). Thanks to my dad I’ve got a very inquisitive attitude to technology that has followed me all the way through life. I suppose it’s contributed to me having a signature sound but I think that that’s also got a lot to do with attitude in general. Rather than fall back onto the staple techno hardware I’ve always sought out more unusual and digital synths; things that you really have to get under the skin of but that to me is where the gold dust lies. The same goes for software, I’ve avoided a lot of the big players and like software that encourages accidents or feels more like sculpting than simply filling in squares and joining dots. There’s no denying I like technology and I’m very happy to feel like in the last few years finally the software revolution has started to allow things to get back to the organic and emotional side of creativity.
Kn: Leading on from your eclectic production techniques, what are your thoughts on “random generation” VST’s and the like?
IK: I’ve developed a fair few of my own things in this area; VST plugins to process midi, Reaktor, Max/MSP and so on. I’m not an advocate of truly random techniques (they’re contrary to how our brains operate so are generally unsatisfactory) but I am very interested in controlled randomness or allowing accidents to happen in subtle ways. I think some of my best music has come about but letting the machines do unplanned or unpredictable things and then, if necessary, taming the result. In a hardware studio to some extent this is easier as it’s more about moving faders and controls. In the software world the concept is perpendicular, there’s less immediate control but there are almost infinite options. I’m a big fan of a modular sequencer called EnergyXT (the original masterpiece v1.4.1) which I still use religiously. It’s an inspiring and very transparent way to work to me; allowing you to connect elements in a very organic way. I don’t like to feel like I’m making music in a linear way and the process of recording a track for me is much more like a one-off performance than a premeditated repeatable thing that has been designed to the smallest detail.
Kn: Do you have any stand out influences as to why you got into electronic music? What do you like/dislike about the current state of EDM?
IK: My road to electronic music was through 80’s synth pop and proper early electro into Depeche Mode, etc. My local library played a big part – the original 80’s “home taping is killing the music industry” era! What a great way to discover all sorts of otherwise unknown music. Several very influential radio DJ’s like John Peel and Colin Faver (a London radio legend) pushed me along as I got into techno and Dave Clarke and Jeff Mills opened my ears to the art of vinyl manipulation in the early 90’s. Without a doubt Aphex Twin is the genius at the top of my inspiration tower. I’m pretty gob-smacked when I occasionally read comparisons between my music and his.
I think the current state of music is actually pretty exciting. It’s been through a bad patch as I mentioned above but there’s some fantastic talent around at the moment and there are people doing genuinely interesting things. There’s a really nice cross-fertilisation of styles happening at the moment – abstract, industrial, techno, experimental.
Kn: In house sound guys… do you see them as an expectation, a big help, or just a waste of time? Tell us about your funniest and worst experience with them?
IK: I suppose I’m fairly agnostic. Sometimes things are excellent and sometimes they’re a shambles. Everyone’s got a job to do in a club environment. There’s a lot going on and a lot of people trying to do a job without knowing anything about each other; that’s not easy. There have been times when an over enthusiastic sound engineer is tweaking the levels down all the time but it’s only ever really a frustration when the equipment simply isn’t up to the task or is set up badly in the first place! To be honest the worst (and sometimes best) experiences come from inebriated random people jumping on the stage, picking up needles, stopping records but that’s all part of the fun!
Usually when there are technical problems it’s when there’s nobody in sight to sort anything out; bad organisation more than anything else. That said, nothing is quite as embarrassing as picking up the wrong needle during a set! All too easy with four decks on the go, especially if they’ve for some reason been connected up in a totally confusing order – which happens surprisingly often in itself!
I’m sure when I get to Sydney in December after 24 hours of flying everything will be awesome at the club there! This time I’ll just have to battle with the unpredictable jet-lag!
Saturday 3rd December 2011, Swarm & Fervent presents Inigo Kennedy @ The Valve Bar, Sydney, Australia
Inigo Kennedy ‘TS0011’ mix available for download now!
Inigo Kennedy ‘Revenge’ [TOKEN019] featuring a remix by Blawan
Exium ‘Roots Of Time (Remixes)’ [NHEOMA011] featuring a remix by Inigo Kennedy
Joint release between Inigo Kennedy and Allan Nonamaka on Fervent
New Asymmetric|MP3 release [ASYMP321]