by Andrew Duke
Kit Clayton has always had a credible track record, even from his first
releases. Through his involvement with the Cytrax, Delay, The Mimic And
The Model, and Orthlorng Musork labels, plus with recordings on a wide
range of imprints including Phthalo, Plug Research, Parallel, Dropbeat,
and Organised Noise, he’s consistently shown that he has the talent to
give ears a pleasant tweak. While many have been following Clayton’s
career from its beginnings, others have yet to hear about this San
Franciscan phenomenon. This looks set to change with Clayton’s latest
releases, the “Nek Purpalet” EP and the Nek Sanalet full length.
They’ve been getting much deserved praise from critics and consumers and
the attention has thrown Clayton—who’d rather let his music do the
talking—to the proverbial media hounds. We’ve been salivating at
Cognition HQ since we first heard Clayton’s output, but, with our aim to
highlight talent over flash, it was easy to focus on Clayton’s music and
not the hype.
Your “Nek Purpalet” and Nek Sanalet are the first two releases on
~Scape, the label operated by Berlin’s Stefan Bekte, better known to
most as the recording artist Pole. How did this come about?
“I was organizing the Chain Reaction tour when he (Betke) came late last
year. We had been talking a lot, and while Stefan was here I gave him a
copy of the ‘The Mimic And The Model #1’ and also a CDR of some stuff.
He didn’t have a label announced at the time, and I told him, ‘play this
for some people you know’ and he said he would. After listening to it,
he approached me with the idea of doing an album for him, so it worked
out pretty well.”
The titles for your EP and album are borrowed from the language of the
Cuna, an indigenous people who live on the San Blas Islands off the
coast of Panama. And some of the ideas behind the album are inspired by
a book from Michael Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity. Tell me how the Cuna
and Taussig’s book relate to Nek Sanalet.
“It’s interesting how I was introduced to them (the Cuna). Somebody
gave me a book after they heard ‘The Mimic And The Model’ stuff and I
told them about my ideas for sound, and mimicry within sound, and
between sound and art and other stuff. The book Mimesis And Alterity is
about these Indians and their viewpoint that there is a double world;
that there is a spirit world that parallels the one in which we live. I
find it to be a nice metaphor for dub production where you take an
original sound and then you process it in some way and perhaps pair it
with the original so both are living in the same space.”
Regardless of the style you’ve been working with, there’s always been a
dub-related continuum to your music. What draws you to this sound and
way of recording?
“At first it just kind of started as a tendency in my productions to use
dub elements. And then I was proposed by Stefan to make a completely
dub release because that’s going to be a driving theme for his label.
In general, I’m interested in making a lot of music that is non
danceable. I don’t think it is exclusively non danceable (the album) in
the way that people typically look at releases. That’s probably due to
the fact that I’m not going out and dancing as much as I used to when I
was younger and that I’m listening to more music just at home. I think
that mood leads me toward working more on sound-focused music, but at
the same time I’m still very interested in making dance music. I’m
trying to come at that with a different approach than I have been. All
studio production to me is dub, whether it sounds like reggae or whether
it sounds like Stockhausen—it’s dub music from a process standpoint if
not by categorization. (Dub) is playing the board as an instrument.
The mixing board and post processing and effects are all ways in which
you can achieve melody and harmony in a way we don’t think of
Two of the eight tracks on Nek Sanalet use vocals. Is this something you
want to explore further?
“Allen (Avanessian) asked me to do something for the Plug Research
compilation (‘Voices In My Lunch Box’) and those tracks were two
alternate tracks that I had been working on with regards to that and
they also fit nicely with the album. The human voice is a good source
for rich tones, not even just singing or anything, but just beatboxing
and strange things that you can do with it. I’d like to experiment with
that more and I’ve actually been listening to a lot of Meredith Monk and
the extended vocal techniques she’s been doing for the past couple of
decades. I’d like to play with it more, but I’ve not really set out to
do that. I still want to explore relationships between sound and its
processed copy and there are infinite ways to do that. I also have the
idea of working with funeral music and dirges; I’m not sure if it’s
actually going to take place, but it’s something I want to work on. I
also want to make music that is very danceable, but not
boring--something that still pushes, but is more conceptual and has
Nek Sanalet is out now on ~Scape. Look for new releases in early 2000
from Kit Clayton on his own The Mimic And The Model imprint and the
British Vertical Form label. Read an interview with Kit Clayton and John Mendez
(DJ Jasper) talking about the Cytrax, Delay, The Mimic And The
Model, and Orthlorng Musork labels here.