Interview & Mixtape: Samuel Kerridge
While much of electronic music that you hear about these days tends to be outward focusing, exuberant styles made for the dance, there is a steady undercurrent of disfigured, foreboding tracks that seek to re-define the relationship between rhythm and sound design. The cumulative effect of these experiments can result in a trance-like state when listening; meditative stretches of time that the human mind can’t always explain.
The output of one Samuel Kerridge descends into this labyrinth of aural architecture, decimating kick drums and feedback with unearthly amounts of distortion until we’re left with a dripping, toxic style of techno. We spoke with Mr. Kerridge from his residence in Berlin; he was also gracious enough to provide us with a half hour mix of all-original productions. It’s like a cold, desolate future where rusted machines go about their business polluting the earth and the sky, with no people left to man them. We love it, and needed to find out more.
The Kort: Are you originally from Berlin?
Samuel Kerridge: Originally from the UK actually, and moved to Berlin about 10 months ago.
K: Ah, ok…whereabouts in the UK?
S: We moved from Manchester, so was hard, as we love it there, but Berlin is another league!
K: That’s what we hear, just a different lifestyle and feel…Did you grow up around a lot of music, at home or with friends?
S: Yeah, my mum and dad were right into the early acid house scene in the UK, about 1988. so I was brought up on house and techno really. I remember going to illegal parties when I was 4.
K: That’s amazing, once in a while I see a young kid at a dance party with his parents in NYC, and makes me wonder…What kind of effect do you think that’s had on you as you grew up?
S: I think it’s had nothing but positive effects. i believe it’s teached me to be very open-minded about music. I did move into more experimental areas at an early age. I found I was wanting a lot more out of electronic music at 15/16.
My parents grew up in the 60’s and 70’s so that era of music also has a great hold on me.
K: What were a few artists you remember hearing at this formative age that really struck you? Any particular songs, albums, producers?
S: Chemical Brothers-Dig Your Own Hole was the first album I bought. I think I was about 11.
K: Did seeing Carl Cox and others work a crowd like that make you want to try your hand at DJing quite early on?
S: Definitely!!! The atmosphere they created was mesmerising for a kid. I got my first decks at the age of 13, I gave up sunday football to get a part-time job so i could pay my mum and dad back. They have always been very supportive, and I paid them back, but it took about 2 years. It was also great going into record shops at 13/14, getting hustled by the guy behing the counter!
K: Yeah I hear they were pushy back in the day! Especially as a young teenager I’m sure.
S: It was quite funny, me and my mate would listen to the radio and if there were any tunes we liked, my mate would go in the next day and try and hum the tune to the guy behind the counter. It never worked, but I’d still come out with a load of records!
K: And so when did you first try your hand at producing?
S: When i was about 20. I got a laptop, Logic, and an SH-101. i tried it a bit, but just couldnt really get my head around it all, so I kind of left it and concentrated on DJ-ing. But it always there, and I was getting really frustrated with other music… could never find records that I really loved, that I really wanted to hear. So then about 3 years ago, I thought fuck this, I’m gonna make music I wanna hear.
K: So you started to become uninterested in what others were doing musically, and kind of closed yourself off a bit and began writing? Stopped listening to a lot of other music?
S: Yeah, kind of became disconnected from a lot of artists I’d previously liked and went into my own sound. I stopped trying to make what other people were doing and put down what was in my head.
I listen to other artists’ music more now, and came out of it finding and exploring lots of new music. But that said, I still find it very difficult to find music I can connect with…it’s that great saying, ‘too many sheep, not enough shepherds!’
K: Yes, I believe Richard James said that once, when asked about the state of electronic music. Very true.
S: It is so true!
K: Now when you make a track, how do you approach it? Do you begin with an idea and flesh that out, or go and jam and see what you can create, sculpt it down…do you have a process you’ve found works best for you?
S: I don’t think I have ever approached producing with an idea. I always go into it free, and see where it takes me. I find certain elements and mould a track around that…I love working this way, it feels like nothing is contrived.
Once I have a big loop going and I like the sound of it I will then leave that project for a few days and then come back to it with fresh ears, and if it still hits the spot, I let it go where it wants to go.
There’s a lot of tracks I just can’t leave alone, and will keep playing them over and over in a loop…I get lost in it, and I find it very hypnotic. I find producing a very personal thing and it’s something I feel, I always get really nervous when playing tracks to other people!
K: Agreed, that can be a bit nerve-wracking…it is nice to let a song sink in, and meditate on the feeling and thoughts it conjures.
Is that the kind of music you generally find yourself listening to these days? Hypnotic, looped, very entrancing, physical music? Like say, Dozzy or Modern Love artists such as Demdike Stare, Anworth Kirk?
S: Yeah i suppose i do. I like music with emotion in it, and feeling. I really like the VFTL project with Dozzy and Neel, and Modern Love push out some great stuff. I also love Shackleton. I think the early Pink Floyd influences from my parents have played a part too. Oh, and anything Regis touches seems to do it for me too!
K: Interesting, with Pink Floyd…do you find yourself wanting to construct strong narratives in your work like so many artists from the 60s and 70s?
S: For sure. Its a story, and a journey, and I hope that comes across in my productions.
K: Definitely, your tracks give off a very dystopian vibe to me, very visceral.
What is your set-up like at the moment, do you prefer working with analog gear (you mentioned you checked out a modular shop earlier) or do you like the flexibility digital offers?
S: My setup at the moment is pretty much all laptop based. I’m trying to incorporate some modular gear at the moment but that’s really just for signal processing and some effects. I really like the idea of the best of both worlds really, I think if you know your equipment, and can work it well, it doesn’t really matter, you can make good music on either format…although I do have a wishlist with some hardware gear on!
K: Agreed. It’s whatever helps you express yourself best…although working outside the box with gear can be quite fun, if not pricey to acquire!
S: Well this is it, everything comes at a cost, and not all of us have £50,000 studios! I think with the small modular setup I’m after and a couple of hardware additions, I’ll be all set to take my music further.
K: That’s great, it indeed takes time or a big influx of cash to be able to set up one of those really tricked out studios.
Do you go out much in Berlin check out gigs and shows? Been to Berghain a bit?
S: I do try and get out and watch live music if I can. And yeah, the Berghain is great. Been trying to give it a wide berth for the last month, as there is never a ‘quiet one’ in there, but if you pick the right line up, your set for 48 hours. :) I also run my own experimental event with my partner Hayley; it’s called Contort, and we basically invite well known artists and other local talent to come and show their experimental side.
K: Sounds absolutely wicked.
K: That is brilliant, great community vibes for everyone involved.
Berlin is probably pretty encouraging for starting an event like that, people seem to be more open to trying different concepts! I don’t think New York is quite ready to support an event like this for electronic music, everything is so damn expensive and there’s a lot of hollow hype floating around that distracts from real, music-driven showcases like Contort.
S: That’s a shame, be great if you could set something like that up. Maybe soon they will be ready for it? I think the fact that Berlin is very liberal makes parties like this work, although there aren’t too many offering music like this. A lot of promoters play it safe with same old tech house.
K: That’s the same in NYC, people either playing Trance and EDM, or udnerground parties in Brooklyn sticking to hyped avant R&B, hip hop acts. Some good house and techno parties for sure, but nothing like Contort quite yet.
I have one last question for you Sam, what is next on the horizon? Do you have releases planned, anything with Drenched in Distortion?
S: Well I have an upcoming EP out on Horizontal Ground, scheduled for end of August, and a few more in the pipeline. I’m will also be putting out a release on Drenched in Distortion at the end of the year which is very exciting. And our next Contort party is on September the 2nd which i will be performing live.
Kerridge will be playing live at the next Contort showcase at Mindpirates Vereinsheim in Berlin with Milton Bradley and Cristian Vogel on September 2nd, highly recommend checking out if you can. Big things on the horizon for this producer, keep your ears peeled and eyes down.