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Conversations with KID606: Cambridge Junction: October 2002

I thought I knew my way around Cambridge better than this? It’s been dark for about 8 hours. I’ve walked across enough railway lines to qualify me for a position alongside Fred Dibnah on a TV series about industry in the West Midlands, or at least for a token sound bite on a Godspeed field-recording. I’ve gotten lost in murky carpark overflows, labyrinthine cooperatives, a chocolate market (?), upside-down in unexpected sidings, and down congested bypasses twice as many times as there have been hours of darkness. All tenuously leading me, in the most circuitous way, to the goal of my quest: an interview with Miguel Depredo, Kid606. Having witnessed the most surreal live show in my experience (606 splaying crunching gabba-noise-like bullets into a rampant, colossal crowd of 11 dancing mentalists, for a bracing 3 hour stint; including the curfew and the time taken for the stewards to break onto the stage and pull out all his equiptment plugs) I press forward to talk to the man of the moment (a very ‘charged man of the moment’), about the death of 606, the pressures of playing live, running such an inspirational record label, DIY consciousness, and that ‘atrocious’ hometown Post Punk scene.

Chris Tipton: Playing such an unrelenting set of thundering jungle and break-conscious gabba provoked extreme, wild dancing in the audience. How do you felt it went for you and is this a typical live performance of late?

Kid606: Oh yeah! It was great; I mean I really love it when people really get into the music, and lose all logic. Tonight was pretty intense acting as a transparent DJ bringing out the fucking jams. I’m not strong enough to go crazy every night; it would kill me.

C: For you is the most important aspect of performance its inherent unpredictability? Is it true you used to perform with a guitar onstage?

606: Yeh! Totally, I used to play Whitehouse covers for my whole set. Impulsiveness is the key, within reason. I remember in Newcastle for September 11th I just got tanked and went crazy. Some shows are going to be like that, but there’s no predicting what I’ll do and the worst thing would be to fake some spectacle every night. In Italy I stage-dived and almost broke my legs, but last night I played sitting down for the entire time.

C: How much of your live performance is shaped by the reaction that you receive from the audience?

606: I only play the music that gets a response live. I don’t fucking go like, OK everyone’s down and everyone’s screaming JUNGLEJUNGLE-GOGOGO!… so I’ll start busting some track from PS I LOVE YOU. I’m not stupid and I’m not awkwardly confrontational, this just results in destroying any atmosphere you think you’ve got instantly. I’m not a complete whore to the audience, but I care about what they want too.

C: You could see that tonight in how you continued to perform for the crowd through the curfew, even though the stewards turned on all the lights, locked up the bar and started to switch plugs off and turn off your equipment.

606: Did that really happen, I don’t remember. I really don’t… no. I’ll read about it in the paper.

C: I’m always amazed at your ability to drink solidly throughout your whole performance, whether its 30 minutes or 3 hours, how on earth do you cope?

606: I never drink at all when I’m at home, never. I leave all the alcohol-fuelled action for the shows.

C: I recently heard that you were planning on killing off the kid606 persona after one more album, how much truth is there in that?

606: Oh no whatever? God, I could never stick to anything like that. I have a lot of new electronic music projects that I’ve made and released under different names; nobody knows it’s me and its gone by unnoticed, and I don’t care. I mean if you don’t try to bank on your identity and make it your main selling point, people really aren’t going to be interested. I love the right I have to make and release music for music’s sake, that can escape the fucking kid606 endless hype machine. I hate the way that when kid606 puts out a record that it has to be better than the last and it has to get all this attention for being fucking crazy and exciting. I love that I can make a record that doesn’t have to try to be bigger or a progression of the last one.

C: Are you planning on releasing anything in the future?

606: I’m the kind of person that if I don’t finish things, I’ll never pick it up later, it just remains incomplete. I got all hyped on making a new album and worked on it and worked on it and then realised I didn’t want to release it. At present I’m finishing an album for Ipecac.

C: You release material on a whole host of labels from Carpark to Mille Plateaux to 555; do you make a conscious decision to choose labels to suit your current style of music or is it more ‘go with your heart’ choice? Responding to the new album being on Ipecac, will it prove a return to the hardcore noise ways on “Down with the Scene”?

606: I’m pretty much on every label. I’ve never been obligated to anyone to sell or put out a certain amount of records, which means I have the freedom to do whatever I want and release it through the most suitable label. I’d have never released “PS I LOVE YOU” on Ipecac, it was all way too ambient, but my more recent tracks have a definite heavy loaded, brutality to them and so I’ve chosen Ipecac. I mean Ipecac means a hell of a lot to me, it’s such a great label and they treat you so good, there’s such incredible bands too, like Dalek. They’re the ones that harass me most for new music, they wanted an album to come out early this year, and it’s like woah! How am I going to get this out!

C: How come there are no Kid606 releases other than a few split 7″ series out on Tigerbeat 6?

606: I haven’t done a whole album since Tigerbeat started, other than “PS I LOVE YOU” and I would never have put them out on my own label. I just would rather not have to work on my own record and have to tell people to buy my new music directly, it’s easier to hand it over and let an industry work out all the details. Maybe in the future, but I want Tigerbeat 6 to be for the musicians, not kid606’s label. It’s a distribution thing too, I mean Tigerbeat will never be a local label everywhere and so it takes ages for the releases to reach the world outside the US. Through Southern I think the new Ipecac album will be released the same day in the US and UK, I want to release the album on vinyl aswell, so maybe I’ll do that through Tigerbeat. All the labels over here, like Planet m, can’t get any distribution in America. An album by Mike P might sell about 50 copies in the states, it seems so crazy. For the UK Tigerbeat sell a lot of copies, but for some reason stores don’t order enough and then we’re not represented.

C: Last week you played at both Slimelight and Fabric, as an Artist do you feel free to play anywhere and enjoy the variety of clubs and venues there is to offer, or do you often feel restricted to a known network?

606: I think it’s wrong to say no to a gig, if it’s good money and somewhere interesting. Generally people approach me and I consider the offer, but when Fabric asked me I thought it was so fucked up and totally insane I jumped at the chance. I didn’t do a fucking pumping house set for that and an Industrial set for Slimelight. Those shows are great and totally fun, but I’m still going to do a Tigerbeat 6 show, with DJ Rupture and Dwayne Sodaberk. You need to have a good show, and I hate preaching to the converted. I enjoyed playing to a mass of drunken 14 year olds in a horrendous pack of sweaty fashion victims and also to a few weird goth kids, Its nice to play to new people, and to get my fans to go to new events too. I got a great response from the audience at both shows, and that made the most difference to me.

C: Coming from San Diego, how much has the post punk/hardcore scene present there affected your music and outlook towards running a DIY label?

606: So much of it is sooooo atrocious. You know I’m involved in a lot of ways. I helped produce Go Go Go Airheart’s first record, and remixed the Locust, but I fucking despise fashion scenes. The majority of the acts and fans are just fucking rich kids into the skinny junky look and spock rock. It doesn’t appeal to me much y’know but I still love the Locust. What I hate most is the millions of yuppies that follow them to every show. Anyone who hangs out at straightedge punk vegan clubs five nights a week has nothing to do or say. Just think of the population density. There’s probably more people in San Diego than in the whole of the UK.

C: So to what extent do you view Tigerbeat 6 as a DIY label?

606: Yeh, It’s completely DIY. It’s always been run by me and a minimum of other people, and it’s always been self-funded and fair, and will continue to always be that way. I’d never get involved with anything too major and corporate.

C: It appears to me that Tigerbeat is becoming more diverse and is building bridges with other scenes, like seen in your last release; the Erase Errata / Numbers split.

606: We’ve always been a diverse label and this year alone we’ve put out over 40 releases. When you compare us to Warp, they seem ridiculous, completely unproductive and only put stuff out as being typically Warp. They’re very obvious, they see that everyone likes Antipop and so they sign them. They wouldn’t touch anything if it wasn’t already established. They have their own issues and they’re nothing like Tigerbeat’s, we want to get passion over to people. We never want to repeat ourselves, we get so many good demos that sound like Gold Chains, Cex and Errase Errata, but we’re not going to release them because we’ve done it all before. When I release a new record I can guarantee that within two weeks I’ll be holding a fuck-load of demos that sound exactly the same, 606-by-numbers. That’s what most labels want, you know Warp on their early records used to advertise “Do you make music like us, are you proud of this fucking shit, then we’ll sign you”. The best labels are the labels you can buy every record put out by and never get bored. Not because you like everything, but because they’re all so different. We’re not asking people to love every Tigerbeat release, if someone likes 50%, then to me they’re a die-hard fan. It’s not a commitment thing with us. We get crazy emails saying Cex is the worst thing ever, I like everything on yr label except Gold Chains, Cex is a brilliant musician and kid606 is a fucking hack, Dat Politics are crummy muscians, Lesser is a joke. But I love that, cos’ that means we don’t have an audience that just like us blindly, and say I love that release because its on blahblahblah and everything on blahblahblah is great. We definitely don’t want everyone buying everything, cos that’ll fucking kill us, that’s what happened to Warp. They had a period when everyone started to buy every release and they died as an objective label. I don’t want people to buy a Tigerbeat 6 record without checking it out and listening to it, because then you get people buying records thinking they’re all going to sound like kid606, and that is a horrible idea.

C: How much anti-HipHop feeling exists in the world of electronica, even though there appears to be a lot of common ground between the two genres?

606: The first time I played live alongside Gold Chains was for an Ipecac night. He emceed over some of my tracks and I played over his, and afterwards these people came up and said “Hey 606, I’m your biggest fan, I got Don’t Sweat the Technics, and you were excellent tonight, but what were you thinking by including that wack-ass MC. Cex has changed his style radically from IDM artist to Old School revivalist and he is surrounded by criticism at every turn, but then again everything surrounds Cex. You could not put anything past him, he’s working on spoken word at the moment, I’m as mystified as everyone, I can’t think about it too hard or it would break my brain apart.

C: So you’d release whatever Cex comes up with next regardless of your own personal thoughts on its quality?

606: I would never censor any Tigerbeat artist, and wouldn’t stop the release if I thought it was shit, because as a label we support the artist and not a certain sound. We support Cex, not the crazy idea he has dreamt up this week. Lesser knows that he can do whatever he wants to do. I mean we wouldn’t tell Erase Errata to cut it up a lot, and Numbers you should buy a laptop. There’s no enforced direction, if we pick an artist then they can do whatever they choose. Tigerbeat loves its artists and its artists love Tigerbeat too, it’s the perfect situation.