Q+A | Boddika
It’s no secret that dance music in UK is a quickly changing thing, and perhaps nowhere is this better represented than in the output of the NonPlus record label and the two men behind it, Damon Kirkham, AKA Jon Convex, andAlex Green, AKA Boddika. Formerly members of the the long-running duo Instra:Mental, formed in 2000, they remained underground for most of this time producing a peculiar form of experimental Drum and Bass that kept them steady attention in UK even if it was not of the star-making variety. Things began to change in 2009 with the precipitous creative drop-off of contemporary Dubstep coupled with the founding of their eclectic NonPlus label and the simultaneous slide of the duo and their friends ASC and dBridge into a kind of peculiar, half-tempo, technologically advanced “Autonomic” D’n’B that quickly earned them critical attention. While the other members of this cadre took notice of the critical lauds and continued to explore music along similar sonic lines, Instra:Mental as ever refused to conform and set an independent course for their label, one day releasing German experimental House from Kassem Mosse and Lowtec, another day experimental strangeness from Actress or Lol, another day Dubstep from Skream in a wandering path that closely matched their shifting focus of their own productions. It was largely their label’s path and their own eventual firm movement towards a kind of futuristically skewed vision of hardware-only Electro that fed the UK’s newfound fascination with the genre, and with their help this eventually went worldwide through labels like Semantica, Clone, and more.
The increasing workload of production, gigging, and remixes took its toll on the duo, and following the spring 2011 release of their first solo album, Revolution 653, they abruptly decided to concentrate on their new solo projects despite their musical directions remaining similar. Green had actually debuted the Boddika project in 2010 on a 10-inch released by [NakedLunch], but in 2011 he began in earnest and dropped a quick succession of dirty, raw electro cuts on NonPlus and Loefah’s Swamp 81 that were influential in contributing to the UK’s interest in the revived sound. He also began frequently collaborating with Hotflush figure Joy O., whose music had begun to look to dirtier directions for inspiration, and the first results of this project belatedly saw release on Swamp 81 in January after a long period spent blowing up dancefloors in dubplate format. Green has also been recording more experimental material under the pseudonym Grey Goo or as a duo with Paul Laidlaw as Transportation 4AD on Laidlaw’s Darkestral Recordings, and chances are that audiences should expect Green’s ears to remain restless as he continues to release tracks at a breathless pace. Following the recent debut of a new vinyl label intended to showcase collaborative releases with Joy O., halcyon was happy to track down the enthusiastically overworked Englishman ahead of his first NYC appearance since his duo’s divergence…
h: It’s been quite awhile since you’ve been in New York… I think the last time was when Dub War was still going. Aside from the new releases, what have you been up to lately?
AG: Ive been writing as much music as possible around a really busy schedule of shows, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
h: It’s not something that’s really been discussed, but I understand that Instra:Mental is essentially a done deal since the album was released, in spite of excellent reception across the board. Any comments about this?
AG: Well, we’ve never said officially that Instra:Mental is finished, and I can say now that there is another Instra:mental 12 lined up for the coming months, on a label run by a friend of mine, and we’ve also spoke about writing more music together when my (our) schedules allow us to take some time out and focus back into what Instra:mental was all about.
h: Since NonPlus was started while you and Damon were still working together a lot, it seems reasonable to ask about the label’s future now that you’re working separately. There’s defnintely been a slowdown since last year’s high point. What are your future plans here?
h: We will continue to run Nonplus together, and the only reason that the releases have slowed up over the past couple of months is quite simply that I (we) have not heard anything that we’ve been that excited about for a little while. I don’t feel any pressure to release music on Nonplus, it happens when it happens, and it happens because I’ve found some amazing music that I want to release. The next release will be from ‘Endian’, two tracks called ‘Birdhouse’ and ‘dbplt01′, which have been getting support from FourTet, Giles Peterson, Loefah, Joy Orbison and lots more. Look out for future releases by myself, Skudge, Joy Orbison, Scuba and possibly A Made Up Sound. Also there’s talk of a compilation album in the pipeline, which will involve new tracks from every Nonplus artist.
h: It’s interesting to me that after the mixture of styles of music you were doing up until last year that you finally settled pretty uncompromisingly on this fractured, futurist electro, and it’s actually resulted in a general revival of the genre. How did you arrive at this and how do you feel about the music that has come out of this recent movement?
AG: It wasn’t anything that was planned; it all came down to beat patterns I was writing at the time. I’ve always enjoyed electro drum patterns and always thought there was more scope to play with them, and incorporate them into a more contemporary music scene, like the one I was involved in.
h: You’ve been quite busy with new releases lately since all of the new stuff with Joy O has been surfacing and it seems to be turning into a regular thing now that you’re onto your second release already. But you’ve also been releasing plenty of solo material and remixes and gigging continuously. Certainly it must be tough to balance all of this, so how do you find the time?
AG: I’m not quite sure to be honest, I mean, right now I’m itching to get in the studio but don’t have the time because i have so many shows. All I can say is, when i do go in to write, I focus and just get as much done as possible, regardless of whether I finish a track. As long as I get loops and ideas down and they are the basis for the next batch of music that I will finish, all work is good work.
h: With the diversity you now have in the UK scene as well as the apparently unstoppable flow of excellent, deep techno and house records coming out for the past few years, it’s definitely an exciting time for dance music. To you what have been the most notable new labels, artists, or ideas?
AG: Swamp 81.
h: We’re happy to see you back in New York, so could you give us an idea of what you have planned for this weekend’s performance?
AG: Thinking ima be drawing for some Katy Perry, Lady GaGa and some classic Ricky Martin.
Big things. Peace.
h: <laughing> As long as they’re your remixes I’m cool with that! Looking forward, thanks.