This week I had the pleasure of chatting to techno pioneer, electronic music producer and (outstanding) DJ, Inigo Kennedy shortly before he headed north of the border to appear at November’s edition of Unseen in the capital city, Edinburgh (02/11). Doubtlessly one of the most creative and talented techno producers around today, he is also the owner of his own record label, Asymmetric, that has been home to some of his most experimental work to date.
Since first breaking onto the techno scene in the mid 90s his career has taken him from North London, where he was born, to an endless list of major cities and far flung countries, appearing in some of the world’s largest and most renowned clubs. Over this time he’s operated under several pseudonyms to carry out extensive musical projects, such as delivering the heavy industrial sounds of ‘Tommi Satori’, to his timeless and far reaching ‘Reducer’ creations. The most recent of these long lasting projects was his TS mix series in 2011 – which involved creating 1 mix every month, for the entire year.
The intention of the TS series was to create a more ‘listener orientated’ mix, as opposed to a ‘club friendly’ production. He goes on to explain, “that [the TS series] was a pretty demanding commitment in the end, although one that I enjoyed a lot as well. It started as an experiment to see how I could use Traktor Scratch (thus TS) having bought it at the start of 2011; not to take on the road but really just for studio use and to enjoy getting to know the mountain of digital promos that come in.”
In total, the 12 mixes created notched up 18 hours worth of listening. Inigo continues, “one long day they would be interesting to hear in sequence I reckon!”. Despite it’s success amongst his fan-base, its massive drain on his time has meant that he has stopped the project at the moment, but continues to regularly release mixes (Token Podcast most recently) with at least a few still to come before 2012 is out.
His own label ‘Asymmetric’ houses some of his more ‘risky’ productions, or at least those not considered as commercially viable by other labels, and are available for free download. Given that his other projects often come and go I’m interested to know if he has a preset shelf life for this label/project. “I’ll keep the project going as long as I enjoy it and I expect that to be quite some time! I’ve struggled to find a gap to put out much this year though, since there have been a lot of releases and remixes coming along.” A predicament, we both agree, that is a pleasant one to be in!
“I really feel it’s important to have that free outlet for my music and to be honest it’s a great feeling just putting music out there with no strings attached” he continues. In the past it has been suggested that releasing music for free somehow devalued the production. I asked him if he thought there had been a noticeable shift in attitude toward free releases over the years. “There is definitely still a connection between cost and a perception of value and it’s a pity really. But, obviously the attitude to digital releases and to some extent free music has changed quite a lot over the past decade or so and generally in a healthy direction I think”.
It’s a subject I get the feeling he has a strong opinion on, and one that I agree with wholeheartedly. “Value should be in the enjoyment of the music or product itself but on the other side of the equation putting a value on something to some extent gives an impression of quality and worth. It’s a bit of a conundrum at the end of the day. It’s surprisingly difficult to give things away!”.
Recent releases, not free (!), from him include ‘Spectre’ and ‘Wonderhorse’ released on Token, which if you haven’t taken a listen to already, are both fantastic tracks and well worth seeking out. If you enjoy what you hear, you can expect more from him on the same label before the end of the year, with other work in the pipeline. “In fact it [the new release due in 2012] went off for mastering today and I’m really looking forward to it! The label really has been going from strength to strength and it’s great to be so involved with it as one of the key artists along with Phase. The recent triple vinyl remix package of his ‘Binary Opposition’ was awesome”.
This mention of fellow DJ/producer Phase leads me to pose the dreaded ‘influential artists’ question, which unsurprisingly yields the immediate answer, “always a tricky one!”. Sorry about that… Generously he follows up, “at the moment the techno scene is really interesting; a lot bolder and more experimental than in a long time. So, the short answer is there are a lot of producers pushing in really interesting directions at the moment and labels like Token, Semantica, Stroboscopic Artefacts, Hospital, 50 Weapons and so many more doing really good things”.
Having played at some of Europe’s largest clubs, as well as some of its most intimate, I’m interested to find out from a DJing perspective if he has a preference for either of these, given that sometimes larger spaces can suffer from a lack of atmosphere. “I enjoy aspects of both and in fact I’d say there can be big spaces that feel intimate (actually Berghain is a bit like that as you are really low down and close to the crowd) and there can be small spaces that feel disconnected”.
However, after some thought he decides that overall, his preference probably lies with the more modest venues, which is good news for those looking to catch him at Studio 24 this weekend! “For me it’s definitely about connecting with people and being immersed in a sound and shared energy. I generally prefer small places as it feels more like people can create that energy and even though that doesn’t happen every time when it does it’s an unbeatable feeling I think”. I couldn’t agree more.
At this point it seems logical to wrap things up by finding out his thoughts ahead of Friday’s Unseen, where he’ll be supported by resident selectors, Neil Templar and Patrick Walker, who always make sure the night starts as it means to continue. Given that his sets are often described as a bit of a musical ‘journey’, or ‘rollercoaster ride’, I am eager to find out if he has anything specific in store for us. “I’ve got a couple of hours to play and I’m planning to use two vinyl and two CD decks. There are a handful of new tracks I’ll be trying out all being well. Last weekend I played in Berlin for ://about blank, which was brilliant!”, he adds enthusiastically. “It was vinyl only so there are new tracks on CD I’m desperate to check out”. That’s as good a reason as any to get yourself along, if you were ever in need of one. It promises to be yet another stormer.
It was great chatting with Inigo. I get the feeling from his responses that he talks as enthusiastically about music (both his own, and others’) and DJing now as he did when he was just breaking onto the scene almost two decades ago. We round off the conversation by talking about his previous trips to Scotland. He seems to only have good memories of these, insisting they are ‘proper good parties, always’. Glad to hear it! The Londoner probably isn’t ready for a relocation in Caledonia just yet, as he adds “I might just leave my Kennedy tartan at home this time though…”.
I think he can be forgiven on this occasion. UKBImages from Inigo Kennedy