German drum & bass producer Kabuki on his new Meditations album, his recent juke and reggae influenced mixes, working with Onallee and his contribution to V Recordings’ forthcoming Planet VIP album…
Hi Jan, we last spoke in 2012 about your mix for Liquid V’s Club Sessions 4 compilation, give us a quick summary of what you’ve been up to since then…
While working on Warrior Soul I went through a real minimalist phase as a producer, but it was around 2012 that I decided to set up a “real” studio again. Having access to vintage synths, effects boxes and drum machines gave me a fresh perspective on writing music, and my third solo LP Meditations is the result of that energy.
You’re readying a new mix focusing on reggae/dancehall influenced D&B hosted by reggae singer Mike Romeo in a soundclash style, is this a reflection of what you’re currently playing in clubs at the moment?
In the 20 years I’ve been a DJ I can’t remember a time with more diversity within the D&B genre. I have to tip my hat to D-bridge, as he got the ball rolling with his Club Autonomic. The mix I’m working on will feature a selection of current D&B tunes that remind me of the digital dancehall riddims pioneered by the likes of Steely and Clevie or Bobby Digital.
Your recent jungle / juke mix for Red Bull was really innovative, what was the thinking behind this mix?
It’s no secret that the juke movement injected fresh blood into the D&B scene. Both genres share so much in terms of vibe and energy, they’re almost like twins separated at birth. To me it was Om Unit who connected the dots when released his footwork jungle edits, and I consider my mix an extension of that idea.
Your VIP of Just Hold On featuring Jenna G is on V Recordings’ Planet VIP album, what can you tell us about the track?
I wanted to have something special in my box for the Planet V party on Halloween 2012, so I decided to do a VIP mix of Just Hold On, which is one of my favourite tunes of the Warrior Soul LP. The response was great, and since then the tune was waiting for the right moment to see the light of day. It can’t be a coincidence that it’s coming out on the Planet VIP compilation!
When can we expect your next studio album and do you have any concepts for it yet?
I’ve been vetting a few ideas, as a good album always starts with strong concept. Now that the festival season is over I need to sit down with Bryan and do some brainstorming. Kmag will be the first to know!
Got any other releases / remixes in the pipeline we should look out for?
There’s an EP lined up for V that I’m really excited about. It will include Time to Change, my collaboration with Onallee. I’ve been a huge fan of her voice since the Reprazent days, so it’s no wonder that this tune has distinct Bristol-tinge to it. I’ve also just finished a remix for the Boys Noize label that’s on a 160 BPM post-jungle vibe.
Tell us all about Pyrex the free track you’re giving away with us…
Pyrex is one of the more experimental beats I’ve written. The tune is sparsely instrumented, which leaves a lot of the room for the drums and bass to talk. It’s a direction I want to explore further in the future.
You’re also involved in music technology and have a close relationship with companies like Sony, who you worked for as a PlayStation sound designer, and Native Instruments, what work have you been doing in this area recently?
To be honest, I haven’t had much time to pursue this recently. Making music for games or programming sounds for software synthesizers is a full-time job, and I wanted to focus on my own productions instead. The last two years have been very productive, and I want to continue using this momentum.
Where can people see you play in the near future?
Come to Frankfurt for a bi-monthly D&B event called PRESTO, which I’m running together with D-licious and Mike Romeo. The three of us are in charge of the whole night from start to finish, and it feels great to have six hours available to play all across the board, from drum & bass to jungle, from juke to wonky. The crowd is always super-enthusiastic, and the intimate club setting allows for a real dialogue between the musicians and the dancers. And that’s what a good party should be about, isn’t it?
Anything else you want to tell us about?
I’ve recently set up my indie label When Spirits Meet, and the physical release of the Meditations LP will drop sometime in October. I have to give a hug and a pound for everybody who showed their love for the album. I am glad that I took the plunge and tried something different – fortune does favour the bold after all. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and Mixcloud for the latest developments. Events occur in real time!