The Hyperdub founder talks bass and vuvuzelas


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on July 2010

It’s been one of the most maligned features of this year’s World Cup, but the South African fart bassoon has got at least one genuine supporter. “I’m a huge vuvuzela fan,” writes Steve Goodman by email from the UK. “Anything that drowns out the sound of football fans singing nationalist songs is good for me. I also like that droning, swarm-of-bees sound a lot.”

Goodman can be forgiven for his unorthodox tastes. When he isn’t DJing and producing under the Kode9 moniker or doing the paperwork for his label Hyperdub, he runs an MA program in Sonic Culture at the University of East London. He’s also got a PhD in philosophy, and last year released a book with the formidable title Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. Not your run-of-the-mill bass worshipper, in other words.

“It doesn’t have to be overly loud, but physical,” he says. “That’s what I suppose everyone who was involved with dubstep early on has in common—a concern for the physicality and warmth of the bass.”

Born in Glasgow, Goodman relocated to London in the late-’90s and was at ground zero when the UK’s grime and two-step scenes began to morph into what we now know as dubstep. In 2002 he co-produced “Fat Larry’s Skank,” one of the earliest examples of the genre, before striking up a fruitful relationship with poet-MC The Spaceape. “Sign of the Dub,” the duo’s stark reworking of Prince’s “Sign o’ the Times,” would become Hyperdub’s debut release. The label has since put out records by key producers including Burial, Ikonika and Zomby.

It’s also introduced the wider world to Quarta330, a Japanese chiptune savant who summons bona fide club anthems from a pair of GameBoys. “I think he is amazing, the way he gets such intricate melodies out of those machines,” says Goodman. “He’s a genius, though. We could all learn from him.”

Quarta330 will be appearing alongside Kode9 and Dutch wunderkind Martyn at Air later this month, in what promises to be an absolute stonker of a night. Goodman’s not the most predictable of DJs, but chances are you’ll hear some of the cuts featured on his recent DJ Kicks mix, which veers from grime and dubstep to UK Funky, broken beat, and other dancefloor mutations that haven’t even got a name yet.

“I decided to just go for what was in my record bag at that moment, as opposed to some of my influences, or favorite tracks over the years,” he says. “The mix is just a snapshot of a certain moment in my DJ life.

“I don’t see it as educating when I DJ, but I like to play what I like to hear, regardless of what genre people have come to expect from me over the years. One issue is that styles shift so quickly in London that people’s expectations can sometimes lag behind… I’m lucky that these days, people seem to come with me more instead of just staring at me blankly.”

They might draw a line at the vuvuzelas, though.

July 23@Air
Martyn vs. Kode9. Dubstep, techno: DJs Martyn, Kode9, etc. Live: Quarta330. July 23, from 10pm, ¥3,500 (adv)/¥4,000 (door). Daikanyama. Tel: 03-5784-3386. www.air-tokyo.com. An exclusive Hyperdub vs 3024 mix CD will be available on the night.