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Q&A: Kode9

From Burial to Rashad, Kode9 has facilitated some of this century’s most innovative music with his Hyperdub label. We hooked up to see if we could crack the Kode

  • Seb Wheeler
  • 30 October 2015
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Can you explain the concept of 'Nothing'?

Last year was pretty intense for us and I was making an album but I ditched it on New Year's Eve. I was like, 'fuck this', and trashed everything I'd made apart from one track and started again. I felt like I had to go back to zero. When I restarted the album, I went with the idea of not worrying too much about what it was about. But I felt very emotional about 2014, so "nothing" is actually the opposite of what the album is. Because I had so many emotions that I couldn't put into words, calling the album 'Nothing' helped me escape that situation. Towards the end of making it, I started to notice every time I saw a zero. Then I read a book about the history of zero in maths and it was fascinating. The more I read, the more nothing (or zeros, or voids or vacuums) started to seem much more complex. . The concept's also been developing into a live A/V show that we're going to do next year, which is an evacuated, fully automated, luxury hotel called the Notel which has got weird quantum anomalies going on, like two things being in the same place at the same time. I'm working with [visual artist] Lawrence Lek, who simulates neoliberal architecture and tries to critique it and take it elsewhere, so that's what we're doing with this idea of the Notel.

When did you come up with the idea for Notel?

Lawrence got in touch to see if there were any projects at Hyperdub that needed visuals. I'd watched his Unreal Estate piece and I really liked the way it took an animated, interactive brochure for some elite place and did things that, without being too heavy-handed, were visually critiquing it from the inside. Nothing seems to be an idea that's at the heart of neoliberalism.

How does it affect you as an artist when you lose someone like Spaceape?

All the albums I'd done [with him] before were like a conversation. For the first album, I'd make a track, he'd tell me what he thought, do some vocals, then I'd tell him what I thought. We'd change what we'd done, meet in the middle. For the second, he had all the lyrics already written and I wrote the tracks specifically for his voice. Whereas for this, there was nothing. No concept, no guiding story.

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