Photo: John Younge (Inigo Kennedy)
Inigo Kennedy’s discography has something in common with how his music actually sounds: it’s very easy to get lost in it for hours on end. Having been, for obvious reasons perhaps, less prolific than before in 2020, the British producer and DJ has since this summer started to regularly release new music again. All of his records, including the 10-track LP Eyes Closed In The Sun, came out on his own Asymmetric label – the first of their kind since 2012. Also Kennedy’s mix for our Groove podcast prove that he is ready for the floor again – bringing together 40 tracks both old and new in just about an hour, it showcases the DJ’s curious knack for working with diverse elements while maintaining his unique signature sound.
First off, how have you been doing this past year and a half and how do you feel about playing your first gigs, after all that time in the near future?
I’ve been doing OK, thank you. It has not been an easy time though; a roller-coaster just as for everyone. Thankfully I’ve been in a relatively OK situation, along with my family, although I certainly suffered quite a lot with anxiety early on in the pandemic and juggling working, homeschooling, mental health and life as very much not normal has been challenging. I’m happy to have managed to make quite a lot of music over the last 18 months; I was quite surprised when the plan to relaunch Asymmetric crystallised and I was working through the recent musical archives. I’m also really thankful to have had a roof over my head and some outside space. It’s exciting to see the start of some gigs again although I still have to get used to the travel and the additional logistics; that and the mess of Brexit just to add to the fun. We are still a long way from normal of course and I’m sure the next six months, especially over winter in Europe, will bring challenges. I’ve hugely missed the energy of music in the right environment; dark, loud and that shared experience.
This summer, you have released a new EP on Asymmetric, a platform for your own productions that however had been inactive since 2012. You have mentioned that you were “wanting to reestablish the name and sound because I think it’s truest to me.” Would you say that on your own label, you can be more uncompromising, musically?
I agree with that, yes. It’s a more direct decision making process. It has been great to work with Token for example and to filter tracks through someone else’s ears too but I also really value being able to build releases directly, take my time to work out what works together and maybe use tracks that I wouldn’t even send anyone in the first place. So I can be a bit riskier and it also lets me be quicker and I find that quite cathartic too; a release might have a track that I produced just a week or two beforehand but I think it immediately has something to say and it works with the other tracks. So for many reasons, it is more uncompromising. If you listen to the back catalogue of Asymmetric, 12 vinyl releases and 21 digital, around 150 tracks, there is a huge variety there and that speaks for itself and is something I am very keen to continue. I think people connect to music in so many ways and I love the fact that I will get feedback on releases with so much variation in what people consider as their favourite and quite often that it would not be the ‘obvious’ track too. That says a lot.
Next up was Eyes Closed In The Sun, a ten-track digital album released also on Asymmetric in September. You’ve released roughly a hundred singles and EPs with your various projects, however, the album format has always been strictly tied to the name Inigo Kennedy. Would you say that you approach the writing of an album differently from producing an EP?
It’s probably well on the way to 200 releases these days which is quite a body of work even if it still only represents the tip of an iceberg. It’s hard to say I would differentiate the writing of an album project but I do approach things differently in terms of selecting tracks and ordering them when it comes to an album. An album needs to be something more than the sum of its parts even if those parts span an amount of time. With Eyes Closed In The Sun the tracks are almost all produced in the same year and in fact I think only the title track itself was a little older than that; it was a track that I knew needed to be part of an album and it naturally became the title track for that reason.
You’ve mentioned not “getting inspiration in a way [you were] used to” while working on the material that ended up on the album because you wrote it in a time when you were not active as a DJ. What impact did that have on the end result?
Ultimately I don’t think that it had much impact on the end result as I have, especially with Asymmetric, always allowed myself quite a diverse range when it comes to the tracks. I definitely miss the energy of the club environment and taking that energy into music-making. There have also been times when I have played a track of mine out on a big system and it has come to life, almost unexpectedly, and I know that I will release it one way or another. I really don’t know that I would have made a different album though; a project like that inherently has a broader horizon. In a lot of ways simply relates to how I am intrinsically. It was a reflective time and I think you can hear that in the tracks and the influences that were brought to many of them, be it Autechre or The Cure or others, hugely influential on me over the years and, equally, having an essence that appeals to my personality so I’m going to make music like that.
Out today is already the next release, Abacus Frames. A thread running through the piece’s titles – the title track and “Laterna Magica” especially – seems to be that of technology. Were there any particular themes that informed this record?
Technology as a theme has always influenced me, since I was really young, but in general titles come after the music and almost always I leave it to see what pops into my mind when listening to the tracks; a quite subconscious track naming process.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
A blend of old and new in a way that is imperceptible. The idea of timeless music is a good one and I also love throwing curveballs at myself when mixing as much as at the listener. So the mix ended up with some happy accidents and interesting turns and there are tracks from across several decades to be found. The mix is only an hour but squeezes around 40 tracks in and bounces around some different facets of electronic music in the way I intended it to.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
I’d love to keep the momentum with the label now that I have restarted it and there will for sure be more releases on Asymmetric in the coming months and beyond. I hope that will establish a wider audience too. I’m super happy to get some gigs on the schedule and I really hope that next year there are proper signs of being able to more freely move around. I returned to a hardware focused way of working in the past year also, setting up a separate studio corner with some of my old hardware and a couple of new bits of kit like Polyend Tracker and Roland TR-8S, and I’ve been giving some thought to the idea of building a live show too but I have yet to see how that might evolve and if it would be successful creatively. I would also be happy with a 75 kg Snatch and a 100 kg Clean and Jerk in the near future; I do a fair bit of Olympic weightlifting in my spare time which keeps me sane and challenges me in a different way especially as I’m not far from hitting my 50th birthday. I suppose I’d also like to get back to some dressmaking too. So many things to do and so little time but that has always been the feeling I have!
Stream: Inigo Kennedy – Groove Podcast 316
01. Alessandro Adriani – Things About To Disappear [salp008]
02. 30drop – Audrey III [asd035]
03. Albert Chiovenda – Night Flyer [analtd003ca]
04. Grg – Rainy Mondays [asg/pr011v]
05. Giri – Suda Giri [awry-ba013]
06. Albert Salvatierra – Walking Through The Mysterious World [skrpt055]
07. Alex Randal – Gravity [editselect80d]
08. Advanced Transistor – Silicio [ksq076]
09. Linn Elisabet – Reminders [prrukd19008]
10. Altstadt Echo – Nothing Clever [modcathss02]
11. Lou Karsh – Opaque Acid [fe013]
12. Matrixxman – Hong Kong (Day) [px003]
13. Anthony Tring – Dead Hope [awry-ba010]
14. Makaton – Rise And Kill [voi019]
15. Mattia Trani – Riptide [oes016]
16. Arad – Barometric Shuffle [voi020]
17. Poly Chain – Render Slave [stdev001]
18. Aphex Twin – Windowlicker (Acid Edit) [warpcd102]
19. Anetha – Miyuki Patrizia [blcs006]
20. Oliver Dodd – Section 8 [du-dfstn10]
21. British Murder Boys – Dead Sun [ltech002]
22. Anthony Rother – Omnitronic [omd014]
23. Oscar Mulero – Evolutionary Decay [wubc2]
24. Casual Violence – Machine Are We [afterltd001]
25. Mslwte – When She Bends Over [sin033]
26. 400PPM – Metabolic Grift [avnlp004]
27. Francois X – Crisp [polegroup35cd]
28. Newa – One [semantica102]
29. Blawan – Trampelfad [tesc004]
30. Absorbed – 215 [besure001]
31. Ø [Phase] – Suspended Animation (Stroke B) [token85]
32. Benjamin Damage – Binary [rs1809]
33. DJ Hell – Like That! (The Old Skool Mix) [magnet014]
34. Oliver Way – Dust Storm (Si Begg Remix) [epm70]
35. Autechre – Kalpol Introl (Live 1994) [none]
36. B.C. – Stronghold [itp005]
37. Caustic Window – We Are The Music Makers (Hardcore Mix) [cat009cd]
38. Inigo Kennedy – Drift [asymp3006d]