Breaking the Scene Barrier
For anyone who wants to lump Miguel Depedro, better known as Kid 606, in a particular scene, here's some advice: Better leave it to him to decide where he fits in.
"I just hate the idea that I'm supposed to make a certain kind of music," he says over the phone from his home in Oakland, California. "You make a certain kind of music and everyone thinks you're that way."
But whether he likes it or not, Kid 606 has become the experimental electronic poster boy. He's bedazzled fans and critics with his hard-pounding, genre-bending mixes since the release of his 1998 debut album, Don't Sweat the Technics. Since then, his work has zigzagged all over the musical spectrum. "No one is exactly telling me that I have to do a certain thing," he says. "I basically have a choice to release music or not release it. That freedom is really strange." His vast catalog of sound has been put out by more than eight labels, including Mike Patton's Ipecac Records (Down with the Scene and Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You), Mille Plateaux (P.S. I Love You and P.S. You Love Me) and his own Tigerbeat6.
Tigerbeat6, the label he started four years ago, has quickly come to the American electronic-music forefront. Besides the Kid's 20-plus singles, EPs and full-lengths, Tigerbeat6 has been responsible for flooding our ears with a tidal wave of turbulent mash-ups and sound collages by the likes of DJ/Rupture, Numbers, Dwayne Sodahberk, Soft Pink Truth and more.
With labelmates Eats Tapes and Knifehandchop, he's embarking on the second Paws Across America tour, a showcase of Tigerbeat6 artists that'll touch down at the Rhythm Room on Friday. "It doesn't make sense for me to tour with a band. It's like 'Here are a few hundred bucks,' and I play to a bunch of alienated idiots," he says. "There comes a point where you're sick of preaching to the nonconverted."
But conversion comes easy to a first-time listener of Kid's rampant beats, static glitches and thick layers of keyboards. Hard techno fans love the pulsating bass; noise purists love the searing pitches; dancehall crashers dig the riddims; indie rockers love the melodies. Despite his vast following within the many subgenres of rock, electronic and experimental music, he's quick to dismiss an allegiance to any one of them. "Even though you're against scenes and that mentality, you're going to get stuck in one," he says. "That happened to me just like it happens to anyone. And eventually you have to separate yourself from that."
Fans of his harder and noisier past material may feel alienated from his newest record, Resilience, a disc full of the ambient and minimal techno that he dabbled with on P.S. I Love You. But the EP's relaxed, feel-good vibe could attract a new crop. Of course, recent converts are likely to be surprised by what they hear at the show.
"My new record is totally not representative of what I do live," he says. "It's different than what I've done in the past. People don't want to see what I did five years ago."
Made over the span of five years, Resilience finds Kid 606 at his pinnacle -- hanging in the atmosphere above the mountain of noise, jungle, hip-hop, indie rock and metal that he's already conquered.
"Some old friends of mine are saying, 'Your new record fits in perfectly with Four Tet.' Yet I would say Brian Eno because that's probably what I was looking for," though he is quick to catch himself before he labels himself a member of Eno's many descendants in the "ambient" scene.
The opening track on Resilience is called "Done with the Scene," yet another signal that he has graduated from Cool Kid Academy. He might as well have called the tune "Sick of It All." "You come home and someone is saying, 'Hey, let's go out.' I don't care who's playing. I don't want to see it. I just went to 35 bars and I'm like, 'I just did that.' No thanks."
Of course, he wouldn't mind if you went down to the Rhythm Room to see him.
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