Non-academic & melanchonic techno from UK
Inigo Kennedy is a pioneering and respected techno and electronic music producer and DJ who is well known for the creativity, originality and technical skill he brings to his work.
Since releasing his first track 25 years ago, owner of innovative and genre-defying label Asymmetric, Kennedy consistently pushes the boundaries of the electronic music realm.
Responsible for a large and diverse back catalogue of releases on a wide variety of highly respected labels and projects around the world, Kennedy’s discography stretches well into triple figures on vinyl, CD, digital and cassette, whilst his DJ schedule has taken him to every corner of the globe.
With such forceful presence over the last two decades, this inimitable powerhouse of underground musical creativity and innovation looks set to forge further forwards, his sound as ever a beacon to those seeking authenticity and true electronic mastery.
Hi Inigo, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. You’ve been around spreading the good word of techno for decades now, remaining at the top of your game throughout. How do you see yourself evolving professionally / musically from your earliest beginnings up until now?
I think I’ve stayed quite true to myself since I started making music and to me, that is a key part of that longevity too. I’ve always worked hard with a regular job alongside music so there is less pressure and I’m less inclined to follow the trend or scene so much. I think for that reason I’m able to make music that is more timeless in a lot of ways. I hope that can continue.
What kinds of music were you listening to while you were growing up. In other words, what styles and/or artists have helped sculpt your creative image.
I was lucky to have access to a really good library when I was growing up so I could explore a lot of different music that way as well as through the great radio shows we had in London like John Peel on Radio One, Colin Faver and Colin Dale on Kiss FM and some of the pirate stations too. Once I got into music as a teenager in the mid-1980’s there was so much to absorb and discover and I would spend a lot of time trawling through record fairs too. My path was not unusual though, crossing from synth-pop to early electro, indie, shoegaze, electronica and techno. Some key influences for me along the way were Howard Jones, Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Depeche Mode, Paul Hardcastle (’19’ blew everything out of the water), the cassette ‘Techno! The New Dance ‘Sound of Detroit’ (electronic and tracks unlike anything else but human-sounding and alive at the same time) and then Jeff Mills (‘Waveform Transmission 1’) and Dave Clarke (Essential Mix sets in mid ‘90s), Surgeon (getting hold of his first two EP’s from under the counter at Fat Cat Records changed my perspective on what techno could be) and so on.
You are known for having an extreme love for vinyl. What was your first vinyl purchase and what did it mean to you?
I’m lucky that my first purchase was not too embarrassing. It was a 12″ of ‘Axel F’ by Harlold Faltermeyer so that puts it at 1984 or so. His soundtracks to Beverly Hills Cop and Fletch were quite an influence on me. The same could be said for work by Jan Hammer. It’s a pity that ‘Axel F’ has been bastardised so much now by being reused over and over again.
You’ve got more than 20 years in the industry under your belt, with the passing years you must have seen many changes in the clubbing scene. What do you miss from the past and what do you value in the current scene?
It’s easy to say that I miss the raw energy, edginess and naivety from the early ‘90s, more of a sense of revolution, but some of that is as much to do with my age too. It was not always that easy or reliable to travel and play gigs then though so it’s not all rose-tinted spectacles to look back at that time. The logistics are easier now and the standard of equipment is much better so ultimately it is easier to give a good performance.
Your tracks are built on atmospheres, sensations and structures. They have a tendency to trigger strong emotions in the crowd. Do you feel you can connect with an audience more in this way?
Absolutely. I always seek out people in front of me that are taken to another place. Of course, there are a lot of reasons for that but the music and the atmosphere are a key part. I like to feel like there is something to remember and not only to be lost in music for a temporary moment.
You founded ‘Asymmetric’ in January 1999. What is the idea behind it and what is special about your own productions you choose to release there?
Asymmetric from the beginning was about being able to release my own music without any filter or fitting to the agenda of another label. To an extent that freedom is made wider by adopting the digital approach and I did that very quite early on when the netlabel scene was nascent.
How are you positioning the label since the relaunch, and how is your approach going to differ from how you operated the label the first time out?
Much the same to be honest. It’s very much about releasing my own music and a lot of the time I think it is music that would not easily fit with another label. I’m concentrating again for now on a digital approach although I might look into a vinyl release at some point. In many ways it is easier to work with platforms like Bandcamp and digital music has matured so much as a viable product.
Could you tell us something about your latest release ‘Abacus Frames’ on Asymmetric. Can you point out a single track that has become especially important for you throughout the process of making the EP?
I don’t think there is one track in particular; they all have some special meaning to me or they wouldn’t be on the release. It is worth mentioning ‘Pulse Train’ though as that is the product of having set up a small hardware-based studio for the first time in many years. I’m using some of my old hardware that has come out of storage and this track especially uses the Waldorf Microwave XT along with a Roland TR-8S that I have added to the set-up. I’ve played the track out at clubs a few times now also and it works really well; I think a lot of that is to do with it basically being a jam that I recorded and edited so it has a lot of life to it. The title track also is to me pretty much the archetype of Asymmetric so that one is important too.
You played your music all around the world: from Europe to South America and Asia. What was the weirdest, strangest experience you faced during the gig so far?
Heh, I wish I could remember all the moments from these crazy and very lucky experiences… Being pulled off the decks by the police in Croatia was fun… Someone telling me it was like I was sticking needles into their brain in Melbourne was a memorable piece of feedback… Playing a hastily made remix of the Prodigy track ‘Charly’ in Czech Republic only to get an email via XL and Liam Howlett the next week having heard it… Being asked if I had any U2 when playing at The Kitchen in Dublin… Another DJ ripping the arm off one of the Technics a few minutes before I was due to play…
Every corner of the electronic music scene has been profoundly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Now more than ever it’s important to be proactive, and work in an agile way, to support each other to ensure we have an industry to come back to. What do you think are the major challenges that artists face today?
The challenge is to be heard. That is not necessarily an effect of the pandemic but just the way things are with the music scene in general. There is a culture or expectation or entitlement which is a little toxic but I believe that outstanding music and positive attitudes should win. That’s a hopeful belief but I’ll stick to it.
Making music and being around in such an environment for more than 20 years, we must ask -what is it that you love about music?
It’s my escape. I think the fact that most music I like is not lyrical adds to that. There is just something about music, loud music especially, that shuts off everything else and takes me somewhere else and gives me energy.
Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us, we greatly appreciate your courtesy.
Thank you for taking the time to ask some good questions!