Touched in the Hip

Kid606 takes a break from dementing dance floors

"I always thought I was making dance music, I just didn't fuckin' know that people couldn't dance to it," laughs Miguel Depedro, aka Kid606, over the phone from a hotel room in Japan. "I didn't know that you couldn't stick together jungle and techno, the most opposing genres in the world, but I did it anyway."

Nearly a decade and two dozen albums, EPs, and singles into his career, the 26-year-old Oakland denizen — who also operates the highly regarded tigerbeat6 records — is probably best known for turbulent, abrasive forays into glitch, gabba, and distorted drill 'n' bass that aligned him with the likes of Squarepusher, Autechre, and Datach'i. A fan of hard-core punk, metal, and goth-industrial music growing up in San Diego, Depedro's primary aim was to bring a confrontational edge to electronic music, injecting abstraction and jarring noise into his laptop compositions.

"It used to be like three people freaking out in the front, and the rest being like, 'What's going on, what the hell is this?'" he says of his earliest performances. "I used to be like, 'All I have in my hard drive is this, take it or fuckin' leave it. The world can come to me,' blah blah blah. It's so fun to make something that's so fucking crazy, but at the same time there's a world outside of that where people wanna dance and they wanna have fun. And I do too, you know?"

And so a surprise for his latest album, the cheekily titled Pretty Girls Make Raves: Depedro's less the bedroom beat mangler and more the "superstar DJ," having crafted a chiefly straight-ahead, four-on-the-floor techno affair. Its eight tracks revel in French house and, even more predominantly, Baltimore club — the increasingly hyped fusion of classic U.K. rave music with hip-hop-style vocal-snippet sampling and echoes of Miami bass and Detroit ghettotech to highly hypnotic ends. Depedro adds great twists to the formula, laying some nice squelchy analog bits atop the 154 bpm rush of "Let It Rock," and implanting shouty, heavily treated vocals, à la Front 242, inside the sweaty grooves of "T.Y.T.R."

"Playing all these shows defines what kind of music I like and want to make," he says, freely copping to no small amount of dance-floor pandering in his latest creation. He explains that it comes from a respect for the responsibility live DJs have to keep the crowds bumpin' rather than alienating them. "I can't honestly say I'd make the same kind of music if I didn't do all these shows and I just stayed at home," he admits. "But I think the willingness to admit you're a product of your environment is really rare in electronic music; it really is mostly, 'Nooo, I'm a product of my muse.'" In throwing his credibility points in the trash," though, Depedro is turning new heads. "People are like, 'Wow, you really make more dance music now,'" he says. "You know why? Because some fuckin' idiot booked me at a dance club. Because I like dance music. Because I want people to dance."

There's also a deeper, more personal element to Depedro's evolving creative approach. "It's like your calling card socially and personally — if you put out a lot of weird, fucked-up music, you're saying, 'I'm a weird, fucked-up person.' Maybe I am, maybe I'm not," he adds.

In the end, Depedro believes there's too large of a gulf between artists getting attention for music that's "absolutely unlistenable" and piquing interest by hitting some common taste denominators. "When you believe in both of those things, like I do, it's really hard," he says. "But whatever, I'm not gonna do like 600 side projects — it's all Kid606, and people will either like it or they won't."

 
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