There was never any question that Kode 9’s DJ Kicks mix would be an interesting, time-travelling foray into bass music. The London-based producer, DJ, label boss and author – the closest the UK’s dubstep scene has to a spiritual godfather – has relentlessly been crafting a unique musical identity that has won him the respect of many of his transatlantic peers (he’s opened for Flying Lotus in New York). Fed by his singular and sharp grasp of bass music, Kode 9’s tastes are nothing if not contemporary: eclectic, rich and informed. And this is never more so evident than in his DJ Kicks selection that takes in UK funky, broken beat, grime and even some R&B. Giving his fans a mix they surely didn’t see coming (it is as far removed from the usual dubstep sounds he’s accustomed us to as possible), it nonetheless possesses Kode 9 undertones which his many followers will recognize, from the cosmic surrealism and sunshine darkness of his tracklisting to the dreamy interludes and intricate production skills put to the fore.
Having received the promo some 10 days back, I initially (rather shamefully) gave it a listen on my shitty laptop which, needless to say, didn’t do the mix any favours. I then slot the CD into my car stereo, and have been hooked ever since. Like the most classic albums out there, it grows on you with time and this one doesn’t fail to deliver.
Sadly, we weren’t even able to catch Kode 9 for a phoner, so instead had to settle with shooting off a couple of questions via email. Not ideal, but better than nothing…
(Scroll down to win one of five copies of the mix we have to give away.)
Where are you at this exact moment?
I’m in my studio.
What attracted you to the Dj Kicks project?
They kindly asked me to do the mix.
Was the decision to do the mix a hard one?
No, I was happy to do it. I’ve only done one released mix CD before back in 2005 and it makes a nice change from the thousands of online mixes floating around.
How did you go about selecting the tracks?
The mix is really just a snap shot of my sets from the last 6 months. The only tangent really is the little R&B interlude in the middle as I felt the first half and second half of the mix are quite tense and needed a bit of fresh air in the middle.
Were there any tracks you would have liked to have on the mix but didn’t get clearing for?
I had Jam City’s refix of ‘Ecstasy’ by End Games on there but we couldn’t clear it so it had to go.
How long from initial call from the label (K7!) to final tracklist?
I finalized the tracklist in February. I took me a couple months to put together the line-up I wanted.
How should the everyday listener, one which might not be familiar with your work but more with their mix series, approach the mix?
With an open mind hopefully.
Were you previously a fan of the DJ Kicks series? Which ones did you have?
The one I knew best was the Kemistry and Storm one from the late 90s. I was aware of the series but didn’t own any of the others.
Did you have any doing in the album’s artwork?
Yeah, I suggested a theme based on an earlier photoshoot that I had suggested for Wire magazine last year.
We recently did a piece on Sonic Warfare (for our print magazine firstly, which we also ran with on our website http://thewordmagazine.com/dribbles/bad-vibrations/). What have been the responses to your book? Where did your initial interest in the subject stem from? Will you be taking the subject any further?
Yeah, I’m already planning a sequel. More news on that soon. The response has been decent so far. . .really I expected people to be more hostile and cynical about the project, but I haven’t come across too much bitchyness yet. The initial ideas came from two sources: the Copolla film Apocalypse now and fictions of sonic warfare that Public Enemy, Wu Tang Clan and Underground Resistance framed their music in.
What current projects are you working on? What does the second part of 2010 as well as 2011 hold in store for you?
I’m working on an album with Spaceape that should be out late in the year. Over the summer, I’m doing loads of gigs to promote the K7 mix. I can’t see much past that now except I know I will be starting working on the new book over the summer, and I’m doing a sound installation related to the book in New York next summer with the sound art collective I’m part of called AUDINT.
Can you list three of your favourite releases of 2010 up to now?
What’s in store for Hyperdub over the next few months?
Have you already been to/played in Belgium? If so, where and when?
I have – I’ve played in Leuven at Stuk and in Brussels a few times (can’t remember where exactly).
Win a copy of Kode 9’s DJ Kicks:
The first five readers to answer the following question will each be sent Kode 9’s DJ Kicks mix: Which track was Kode 9 not able to clear for the mix? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.