THE MIDAS TOUCH King Midas Sound

One of dubstep’s most
prolific groups commissions one of the year’s best remix projects.

 

BY RON HART

 

Two years ago, dubstep’s first power trio, King Midas Sound,
released their imaginative Hyperdub debut, Waiting
for You
. The acclaimed 2009 LP offered a unique blend of Lover’s Rock
reggae, atmospheric garage beat scene and hypnotic electronic soul poetry that
played upon the talents of members Kevin “The Bug” Martin, Kiki
Hitomi and Roger Robinson with an equal sense of footing within the mix. For
the group’s anticipated follow-up, in lieu of creating a record of entirely new
material, KMS recruited a host of their most prolific compatriots to rework the
songs from Waiting For You to radical
and imaginative effects. It’s truly a wild and diversified bunch on hand for Without You (also released on the Hyperdub
label) and reads like the content page of the greatest issue of XLR8R ever published, including Green
Gartside of Scritti Politti, Gang Gang Dance, Flying Lotus, Joel Ford of Ford
& Lopitan fame, Nite Jewel, Hype Williams, Kode 9, Ras G and Deep Chord
among others. Each artist invited to remix brings their own unique variation on
the King Midas sound, so to speak.

 

And while it is, in theory, a remix album, hearing the way
Gartside puts the Scritti spin on “Come and Behold”, or Nite Jewel’s
sorrowful synth on “Lost” in contrast to Fly Lo’s cosmic dancehall
variation on the instrumental track or Ras G’s visceral stoner dub reloading of
“Cool Out” gives Without You a
life entirely unto its own.

 

BLURT recently conducted an email interview with the
members of KMS about the new album, their current sonic kicks
and whether or not they believe dubstep has jumped the shark.

 

King Midas Sound will be on tour in the United States
come spring of 2012. Keep your eyes peeled.

 

***


BLURT:
What was the reason behind doing a remix album as opposed to an album of
new material after the two year lull between records?

KEVIN “THE
BUG” MARTIN: It was a mixture of aesthetic choice and realistic
practicality. We had met a lot of allies since making Waiting For You, that we felt we def shared an affinity with, and
it was clear that we wouldn’t be finishing a new album till 2012 at the
earliest, and we felt for a reworks record to stay fresh, it needed some temporal
link to the original. So if we had left it much longer it might not have
remained valid. And I also liked the idea, again, of relating this album to the
music I love most, which is reggae, and re-envisioning the album in a Jamaican
style, in the same way we had reconstructed Lovers Rock in our image for the
original release…

ROGER ROBINSON: We were also looking for a practical way to curate all these
new great bands and artists we met whilst touring and a rework album was the
most practical option.

Do you guys have any new material in the
hopper as we speak? What kind of direction are you guys going with your new stuff, if so?

MARTIN: The sound
is constantly evolving and had been heavily effected by our live experiences,
as we have been learning on our feet what works in the live arena…The second
part of the King Midas documentary, which we recently released, gives a pretty
good indication of the sound we are moving towards, which is basically an
attempt to connect lyrical intimacy with a monolithic wall of sound, where
waves of mid range fuzz and 50,000 watts of low end pressure collide haha.. And
thus far, we have finished the next single ‘Aroo’ which u can hear a segment
of, within the doc, and we are about half way through the recordings of the next
album…

ROBINSON: New songs are being written all the time but not all of them will
make the next album.

 

KIKI HITOMI: We already
recorded a single track ‘Aroo’, you can hear the track on our documentary video
part 2. This song is about a girl turned in to a wolf howling for the man he is
dead or she lost. It is based on the Japanese Manga story Phoenix by Osamu Tezuka. It is about a Korean soldier lost war and his head was
replaced  with that of a wolf by enemy. After that he could communicate with spirits of
wolves and fall in love with the princes of wolf spirits. However when he lost
his wolf head and turned in to normal human, he also lost his ability to
contact with spirits. She waited 1000 years and both reborn as human, to die
together and turned into the universe in the end. I would like to make music video based on this story. We are also making three
ambient drones/tone poems that will be on the B-side for ‘Aroo’. They will be
three short films based on 3 colours directed and filmed by Spanish artist,
XXIIRII, and collaborating with an amazing dancer Alberto Velasco.

 

 

#1 – Alberto Velasco from XXIIRII on Vimeo.

 

How did you decide who to reach out to
for the remixes on Without You?

MARTIN: I guess I am the one to blame for the choice of collaborators…As i
mentioned earlier, we wanted to reach out to new friends or kindred spirits, as
i didn’t want it to be an empty rent a big name endeavor, and i didn’t want the
album to totally lose sight of the original aesthetic or overall sound of King
Midas Sound, as so many remix albums ultimately sound cynical, cold and
unrelated to the artist’s original intentions. We wanted to put together an
album that had ghosts of our sound, but which would contain mutant interpretations.

ROBINSON: Yeah, Kevin’s done so many great compilations and records that he had
all the experience and led on it.

In regards to the Green Gartside version
of “Come and Behold”, how did you come about reaching out to Green,
and who in the group is the Scritti Politti fan?

MARTIN: Again it
was me. I had read a feature on him in The
Wire
magazine, and I asked Lisa Blanning if they had a contact I could have
for him, as I had always been a huge admirer of Green’s work lyrically, tonally
and philosophically. Luckily I sent him the original album, and he loved it,
and we moved forward from there. His whole vocal approach, using his voice as a
beautifully fragile, androgynous tone generator, was very much in keeping with
what Roger and I had discussed, when we first decided to form King Midas Sound.

How did you first hear of Ras G?
MARTIN: I had been tipped off to Ras G by Jamie (Kuedo) years ago, when J was
sharing the same studio complex with me, then Kiki and i saw him play an
astonishing show in Shoreditch where he came across like some hot wired Lee
Perry for the DSP generation. So ill; and actually I had met him very briefly
before that when we had played a show together in Amsterdam, but he was
tripping so heavily on a mountain of magic mushrooms that he had entered
another zone, and wasn’t really able to communicate so much…hahahahaha…

HITOMI: Me and Kevin went
to see Ras G’s gig in London.
We knew his music from the net, but when we saw his set first time and he blew
us away totally. It was best show we had seen last year 2010. It was groovy,
heavy and mad chaos. He was manipulating MPC player so fast like a ninja. So
then we asked him to do rework. I love his chaotic laser guns and sirens dub.

 

How did you link up with Flying Lotus? Who else
from his Brainfeeder camp do you admire?
MARTIN: I saw his first
ever show at in London, and have gone to virtually every show he has played in
~London since…I think he is outstandingly talented, and it’s a pity that so
many people have bitten his style so hard, as it makes it so difficult for him
now…But I’m sure he will reinvent himself, as you can tell he has music
pumping through his blood…I cant remember how we met exactly. I do remember
it was Morgan Zarate that played me his music first, saying “I know your
gonna love this”, just as 1983′ was released. I also remember i was so
into his sound that i asked him to play the launch party for my London Zoo album which ended up a
complete disaster for many reasons, most of which i still feel guilty about. And
yeah, I like a lot of the Brainfeeder artists like Matthewdavid, Samiyam and
Martyn. They are obviously a label with a strong vision and release high
quality music. They are large…lol.

ROBINSON: I really like Austin Peralta, Teebs and Thundercat.

What are your thoughts on the whole hype
fit behind dubstep and do you feel its reaching its exhaustion point? Why or
why not?

MARTIN: You know by
now, I must admit, I’m pretty much past caring, although, it’s been astonishing
to see it grow from 20 producers watching each other spin tunes at Plastic
People to the monster that had been created by now. But as I’ve said before,
any scene that can include such variation as Burial, Shackleton, James Blake,
Cloaks, Skream, Loefah, Coki etc… is always gonna throw up some interesting
tracks. It’s now become like any scene, where 5 percent is revelatory and the
rest is filler.

ROBINSON: I think great music never goes out of fashion no matter what you call
it.

Kevin, where do you stand with your
Techno Animal project from the early 00s with Justin Broadrick of Godflesh/Jesu fame and has there been any talk of
revisiting it any time soon?

MARTIN: Definitely
not. I am working occasionally with Justin again, but we would never reform
Techno Animal, that sort of decision is against my nature. But having said that
I hope at some stage we both have a fresh idea that would enable us to work on
a full project again…J is my soul brother for sure, and I love where he’s
gone with the Pale Sketcher project.

Kevin, are there any plans for a new
proper album by The Bug any time soon?

MARTIN: I’m deep into new Bug material right now. I’ve been working a lot with
Flowdan, Daddy Freddy and Death Grips, plus there will be a few more surprises.
The new material will stretch the parameters of the old sound. More aggressive
in one direction, and more danceable in the other. It will be recognizably Bug,
but more twisted…haha.

 

I was perusing your Blogger site and I’m
loving it. Who is generally the one who posts regularly and do you guys have an m.o. when it comes to posting or is it just a feel thing? And who is the big Nick Drake fan? Do you feel Nick’s music is ripe for a remix project?

MARTIN: No m.o., strictly
love…And yeah, I was the one who posted the Nick Drake homage. He’s
incredible. Everything can be remixed, but the question remains, how much merit
is contained in the end product…To step out from Nick Drake’s shadow is a big
ask.

HITOMI: All three of us
post on the blog. If you see any Japanese word in the end of the post, that is
my post. It is really good for the three of us to let each other know what we
are into now and share the inspiration for our new material.

ROBINSON: I think Kevin post the most then Kiki and them me last with posts my
posts are any without K-Bug on the end and no Japanese writing.

I love Kiki’s Dummy Magazine mixtape you guys posted in October. What inspired the set list and can we expect more mix tapes on the site in the future?
HITOMI:  King Midas
Sound has many inputs from different types of music as we don’t fit in any
genre! We cannot explain what we are especially in our live set and where we
are heading to now. Basically I wanted express what King Midas Sound is about
by the Dummy Mix Tape. If you love the mix tape, come and see our show. You
will experience the same essence from each track I mixed together. If you see
our show, you totally understand what I mean and it al makes sense. And Yes, I
will make another mix tape soon for Japanese promoter and art collective crews,
‘Goodweather’ from Nagoya.

This time, I will probably make a mix tape more based on my favorite vocalists across
a wide genre. Exciting!

MARTIN: We are starting up
our own comprehensive website very soon, and all previous mixes plus new upcoming
ones will be posted there. I reckon Kiki and Hype Williams both smashed it both
their recent mixes. Kiiiiilllleeerrrr….


King Midas Sound seems to be quite attuned to a lot of new music going on. Who are you all listening to these days?

MARTIN: The Weeknd, Emptyset, Frankie P, Levon Vincent, Stylo G, Gonja Sufi’s
new shizzle, Anything on the Pressure Sounds label, Bangs & Works 2 on
Planet Mu (plus any new footwork I can get to here), Nadja, Death Grips, Tim
Hecker etc., etc.

HITOMI: I am listening now
to WU LYF, Wiley, Dr Octagon,  Modeselektor  and a lot of 70’s- early 90’s reggae.

ROBINSON: Shabazz Palaces,
Joker, Bonnie Prince Billy, ASAP Rocky, Oneohtrix Point Never.

 

 


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