Musical Collages

Kid606 uses all sorts of instruments and noises to create cut-and-paste soundscapes

The music of Kid606 reminds me of the free jazz of the 1960s, although they sound nothing alike. As free-blowing pioneers such as Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane did 40 years ago, Kid606 appropriates noises that some of us might not consider music, and from them, he molds a new musical genre, a sometimes-assaultive aural art form that is influenced equally by techno, ambient, hardcore punk, Krautrock and acid house.

Kid606 manipulates all manner of electronic and acoustic instruments, as well as an endless assortment of computer noise, to create an always surprising, rhythm-oriented atmosphere of ambient dance music that has been called laptop, glitchcore, IDM (intelligent dance music) and a "sonic battlefield."

The solo artist is currently touring from sea to shining sea on the "Paws Across America" concert tour, which on Monday, July 18, will visit Solar Culture Gallery.

Called by a British reviewer "the original enfant terrible of electronic music," Kid606 comes across as just the sweetest guy on the phone.

Born Miguel Depedro 25 years ago in Venezuela, he grew up in San Diego and currently lives in the avant-garde musical hotbed of Oakland, Calif. Speaking from his home as he prepared for the current tour, Depedro was laid back, articulate, thoughtful and wise beyond his years.

For the current tour--which starts with 33 dates in the United States and continues on to 55 in Europe--Kid606 is bringing opening acts Eats Tapes and Knifehandchop, both labelmates on Tigerbeat6 Records, the San Francisco-based label he owns and operates.

Tigerbeat6 has released most of Kid606's recordings, which he has been making since the age of 14, although there have been one-off CDs for labels such as Ipecac Recordings, which released the turning-point disc Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You.

Depedro praised his tour buddies; he's perhaps more comfortable talking about them than himself. "Knifehandchop are from Canada, and they play a really specific kind of really poppy techno; it's a very indie techno sound. Eats Tapes are more like really upbeat synthesized stuff. They're both great."

He's eagerly awaiting the release of the latest Kid606 CD, Resilience, on Aug. 25, which he says marks a radical departure for him.

"Lately, I've been more excited by the more ambient stuff, and I think that my latest album reflects that. Stylistically, it's really similar to what I've done in the past, in that I use a lot of found sounds and stuff. But I use lots of organic instruments, and it's really pleasant and nice, not too aggressive, compared to my other stuff. It's cool, though, because the next album I am going to put out is more rocking dance stuff. That'll probably be next spring."

Since he began making musical collages 11 years ago, Depedro has constantly wanted to create music that he didn't already hear.

"I'm always thinking about what I can release out into the world that isn't already out there. The kind of stuff I did four years ago is much more prevalent now. It's great that more people are making that kind of music, but it also forces me into other interesting things that I love."

Contrary to what you might think, he did not grow up on a steady diet of techno, electronic and experimental music.

"I listened to a lot of what my mom played--Paul Simon and African music, a lot of rock like the Doors. I didn't even know that much about electronic music, until I heard Ministry and Skinny Puppy and Aphex Twin and started realizing the potential of this stuff."

Depedro spoke briefly about how he composes his unique cut-and-paste soundscapes:

"I tend to work with lots of synthesizers and guitars and other instruments. I record a bunch of stuff for the musical content, just lots of sounds, and then I arrange them into songs. It's kind of like building with Legos, but I get to make my own Legos in my own shapes."

If you guess that the production techniques of hip-hop have influenced the music of Kid606, you're not far off the mark, he says.

"Oh yeah, in that hip-hop is one of the newest forms of music, and it's not really building on another form of music, although it references everything else in a sort of post-modern way," Depedro said.

"And it was a really exciting revelation for me to realize--as with hip-hop--that you can make music without a lot of equipment and people, just a producer and a vocalist, without the need for big studios."