Drum & bass producer and all round music enthusiast, Klute
Blackdown: Jess Harvell suggested on Pitchfork Media that this year has been worse for d&b than 2004, primarily because there's been less 'leftfield' d&b. do you think 2005 has been better or worse than 2004 and why?
Klute: that’s a very tough one to answer. To be simple and get straight to the point though I'll stick my neck out and half agree with him. Musically and morale-wise I think it’s on a pretty low ebb, but then again that could be a very important stage in the gestation of a new rising. Personally I'm not concerned that things be ‘leftfield’ or not, I just like to see a spread in depths of emotions and as far as I can see the majority of d&b produced this year is very surface orientated.
B: is it essential to have both depth and energy? Is d&b swinging into the abstract 'leftfield' as much a mistake as making noisy, disposable dancefloor fodder?
K: I think d&b is really suffering from people establishing factions and sticking to that one thing and shouting about how their banner is the best.
B: But doesn’t that mean they are able to push forward a coherent musical direction rather than doing 'a bit of this and a bit of that'?
K: I guess that’s the nature of it, but from my perspective I'm seeing a lot of isolation happening. We're all guilty of it, but I think it’s a problem.
B: Are some producers guilty of just aiming to make harder, noisier, angrier music?
K: I'm not sure if that’s exactly the main problem. The really popular stuff tends to be incredibly simple and stupid sounding. There can be magic in any type of sound, and if everyone wasn’t so isolated I think the exposure would open us all up a bit and hopefully dampen down the monotony.
B: I always get the impression you seem to be looking for something, a vibe or a buzz maybe... you tell me. Do you know what you're looking for out of d&b or will you only know it when you find it?
K: I've quite a wide ranging taste in music and I’m constantly listening and buying as much new music as I can. Perhaps one of the faults of that is not being able to concentrate on one thing for long enough to see the whole picture. For me I see a buzz in what’s currently going on with techno/house out in Europe, dubstep and also in film scores.
B: But yet you've concentrated your production quite a lot on d&b, more so than any other genre...
K: I guess that’s my current field of expertise but I do also write a fair amount of "other music." For the last 10 years I certainly have produced a majority of d&b, probably as its been the most exciting for me. Making other music is really a case of me having to give myself a kick to remember to do it. I go through big phases. Right now I’m going through a non-d&b phase. Writing mostly one kind of style becomes very habit forming and for me it’s a matter of breaking that habit.
B: Isn't that where the most important/influential producers succeed: they break through their own habits and production conventions in ways that work?
K: Well, I don’t know about that. Everyone has their own way. Some people just stumble across it. I think if you want to stick around for a while you need to constantly question what you’re doing, why and how its done. That’s my personal method.
B: what tunes have made you excited this year (inc d&b)?
K: Well, there’s an album by a guy called Michael Manning called “Public”. He's apparently 19 and making music with shocking maturity… well I was shocked. I was taken aback by a Kode 9 tune that was called “Blues” at the time but has since been renamed “Kingstown”. Nathan Fake “Dinamo.” And d&b wise a tune or two by Amit, the same with Break ... and me!
B: It's healthy you're excited by your own tunes, do you know producers that are actually not excited by their own music?
K: Yes, I know a lot who aren’t. I know a lot who just churn it out. That can happen when you make one kind of music. I think you sometimes forget why you’re doing it. This is why I like to write albums. It gives me a sense of purpose.
B: How could journalism best help d&b?
K: By being constructively critical, but that in itself is really hard to do, but I have seen it! Some American guy reviewed by album online somewhere and essentially addressed what I personally thought were the shortcomings of it and it really pleased me. More than 90% of good reviews. He'd actually listened to the thing.
B: I'm not trying to force you into defending d&b, but isn’t it the case that the vast majority of d&b artists would have reacted in the opposite way to you after a bad review, often in a very aggressive way?
K: Well, in most cases I'd be defensive as well, but then I also tend to get defensive with some favourable reviews as well. I get annoyed when I get the impression the reviewer hasn’t really bothered to listen.
B: A lot of d&b contains sonic references to 'e'. given that acid house happened over 15 years ago, are these references still valid?
K: i think E has a very different effect on the collective psyche these days. Perhaps its a very different drug these days, maybe its to do with critical mass. Perhaps its just stabbing at memories. It's going to take something else to bring back those feelings.
B: what have i missed? what question is begging to be asked of d&b?
K: is the culling coming?
B: and what is the answer to your question do you think?
K: I dont think its far off
K: its more a case of people losing their fleeting interests
B: producers or fans?
K: Well, thats a question in itself. Where do you draw the line? What is a fan and what is a producer? One of d&b's greatest assets is also one of its greatest downfalls. The fact that its one of the most DIY get onboard stlyes out there. The moment a "fan" makes a tune on Reason he becomes part of the machine. I'm not here to place myself above anyone in that regard. The proof is in perseverence.
Klute's top 10 sounds for 2005
1. Michael manning "Public LP" (ai)
2. Confutatis "Obsession" (ai)
3. Shed "Stronghold" (solo action)
4. Kode 9 "Kingstown (dub)" (Hyperdub)
5. Amit "MK Ultra" (Commercial Suicide)
6. Basil Kirchin "Abstractions of the Industril North" (Trunk)
7. Michael Andrews WMe & You & Everyone We Know" (soundtrack)
8. Cocteau Twins "Box set" (4ad)
9. Skream "Traitor" (Ital)
10. Dkay "Serenade" (Brigand)
For more info on Klute check the Commercial Suicide site