Published Aug 18, 2014It's not easy to stay on the cutting edge of music, but over the past couple of decades, Kevin Martin has done just that. He was at the forefront of creative hybridizations as jazzcore, industrial hip-hop and dubstep, boasting full-length collaborations with the likes of Justin Broadrick (Godflesh), Alec Empire, DJ Vadim, Kiki Hitomi and Porter Ricks. His latest album as the Bug, Angels & Devils switches gears from its dancehall-heavy predecessor, 2008's London Zoo, incorporating input from the likes of Death Grips, Liz Harris (Grouper), copeland and Gonjasufi. The album isn't out until August 26 on Ninja Tune, but already Canadian listeners can stream it in full on Exclaim.ca over here.
"The vocalists are a part of my puzzle when I'm putting together a record, trying to construct a narrative flow for an album," Martin tells Exclaim! "The vocalists I'm drawn towards are generally people I feel are fellow misfits. It's almost like rounding up the disenfranchised from various areas, but always being drawn towards and magnetized by people who have got a voice that's instantly recognizable. For me, that's one of the most crucial elements of being a musician or producer is to actually be able to personalize what you do, particularly when you work with electronics. To try and give machinery your voice is a difficult challenge, and the vocalists I generally want to work with are people I feel raise the emotional content of my music to an even more intense degree."
As the title suggests, the album is split into two halves, one favouring a lighter, ambient sound and the other darker, grimier and more bass-heavy. Yet, the album is not about diametric opposition, per se, but rather the commonalities between extremes.
"The album is more about the angels in the devils and the devils in the angels," Martin states. "For me, it's almost a commentary on where opposites attract and extremes meet. It's more kaleidoscopic than black and white. Personally, I veer very rapidly from one extreme to the other, which is either ridiculous optimism and positivity or complete nihilistic misanthropy. Right now, having just had my first child about four months ago, I'm leaning more toward the positive side."
For most artists, a gap of six years between albums is practically unthinkable, but it's all part of the process for Martin, one he enjoys. He simply refuses to release music he that be doesn't believe elevates the tone of the global music conversation.
"I'm the kind of person that needs to be 101 percent committed to the end result," he says. "I think there's something like 147 demos I worked on for this album. Same thing with London Zoo — a lot of material didn't make the final album. It has to be the right story being told."
As for the future, Martin is always on the lookout for new characters to fuel his creativity. He recorded a track with Evy Jane before they signed to Ninja Tune, he's been in talks with D Double of Newham Generals, and he's been pushing for his label to hook him up with Damian Marley or Busta Rhymes.
"The thing about a lot of people in music is they stick to their home turf or they get jaded," Martin expounds. "I love alien turf, and I'm still more excited and impassioned than I've ever been, so it's an ongoing search."
For now, stream Angels & Devils here. You can also see the Bug's upcoming North American dates below.
10/08 New York, NY - Output ^ $
10/10 Boston, MA - Good Life ^
10/11 Detroit, MI - The Works ^
10/24 Guadalajara, Mexico - ENSAMBLE *
10/25 Mexico City, Mexico - Mutek MX *
10/26 Austin, TX - Barcelona ^
10/28 Denver, CO - Cervantes ^
10/29 St. Louis, MO - 2720 Cherokee ^
11/01 San Francisco, CA - The Independent # ^
11/03 Los Angeles, CA - The Echoplex # ^
^ with Manga
* with Flowdan
$ with Actress
# with Wolf Eyes