Kit Clayton
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 traditionally.”

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 subtle changes.”

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.

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