DOA: Hi Klute! Thanks for taking a few moments out to catch up with us. To give our readers a bit of musical background on yourself, could you explain a bit about what you were into prior to becoming a drum and bass producer / label head?WAIT... THERE'S MORE STUFF
Klute: Hi there, thanks for inviting me to the DOA hot seat, it’s a thrill of major proportions. As we all know, prior to D+B I was leading a dual life as a successful touring table tennis champion and lead banjo player in Serbia's famous hardcore band Schmoogle (roughly translates as Stupids). Politics ruined ping pong and for me it was no longer about grace and long volleys and as far as Schmoogle went...well, whatever.
DOA: Interesting. I would have taken you for more of a ping pong man, myself. What was your initial motivation for beginning to produce D+B and was there anyone who really helped you out in the beginning?
Klute: Ever since I was 10 or 11, I had been dying to make some kind of noise and making D+B is just an extension of that long and winding journey. I'd like to thank my parents and God for guiding me along the way.
DOA: As most people should know, you became part of the Certificate18 family during it's early years. Could you tell us a little about how you ended up on the label in the first place and how it was to be a part of it during that time period?
Klute: After the excesses of the '92 Ping Pong world championships I moved back to the UK to set up back home where I felt like music in general was going crazy. Sampler in tow I was split between making techno and the harder breakbeat sound of rave which was morphing into Jungle. I would make frequent trips back to see my folks in Ipswich where there was quite a scene with Red Eye and another shop called Phunkchunk, where a guy called Paul Arnold worked who was very familiar with my previous work with the Stupids. Upon hearing I was making jungle, he was anxious to release it and it was then that the Klute name was born. It was really exciting at the beginning as Photek and Sounds of Life (aka Source Direct) were still very much a part of the label. I never thought anything so good could come from Ipswich, apart from myself and Nik Kershaw.
DOA: Tunes like 'Chicks', 'We R the Ones' and many more are really special to your typical D+B fan. A lot of artists typically aren't too fond of their older works as they feel they've progressed beyond it. Since you're someone who's always had a similar vibe to your work, do you still like the tunes you made during these years or ever play them at current gigs?
Klute: As an artist I definitely prefer to keep looking forward. There is always a strive for perfection - the never ending quest for the perfect song, or something like that. I am definitely fond of my older material as it represents hours of hard work trying to achieve what i felt at the time, but to me I’m only as good as my next track so I’ll keep on going.
DOA: I have to admit this one has just about nothing to do with DOA and what they may want to know about you and everything to do with my own curiosity! As a long time fan of the incredibly talented vocalist, Natacha Atlas, I've always wondered how you ended up doing a remix for her. Can you please explain a bit about how this opportunity came about and how the experience was for you? Were you also a big fan of hers beforehand?
Klute: That was quite awhile ago now but I was approached by her label Beggars Banquet to do a mix. At that time I had never heard of her. It was a real joy to work on that track ("One Brief Moment") as she had been collaborating with Dave Arnold and there were endless tracks of rich symphonic strings. It's still one of my favourite remixes.
DOA: That's cool; it is one of my favorite remixes of yours also. Bringing things back, tell us a bit about your label, Commercial Suicide. In retrospect, the first couple of releases really set the pace for what was to follow. It's always nice when you really know what to expect from a label and know they're not just releasing whoever they think will make them a buck at the time. Did you always have such a concrete vision for the label as far as who you'd sign or was it a natural progression? By the way, it is a shame 2 Cities only made such a small amount of (great) tunes, but good on you for snatching up one of the few that they did!
Klute: Commercial Suicide never had any plan other than to release my own music, for no other reason than I felt like no one else would release it at the time. I was initially quite shocked as my sales immediately doubled compared to the Cert 18 releases. I became drunk with power and decided to release other people’s music, simply because I could. It was downhill from there on in. I only sign what I like and have turned down big tunes in favour of another simply because I preferred them. 2 Cities was a short lived project between John Tejada and Ed UFO.
DOA: Commercial Suicide is definitely one of the more interesting label names out there. Would it be possible for you to divulge a bit of information as far as what it means to you and how you've modeled the label itself around any ethics tied to it, if at all?
Klute: I just wanted a name that stood up against the normal D+B futuristic scientific cliché type of names. I also wanted to depict failure rather than the norm of trying to project success. My whole purpose is to organically release music I like for the sake of people who like music; not hype and lies. Music and culture as a whole has become so obsessed with success that merit is applied to sales figures and perceived market dominance. For me music is a higher form of expression that can’t be judged by success, it’s not a competition - that only gets in the way of the music and actually appreciating it. As much as I love DOA, I sometimes have a laugh at all the experts telling everyone how they think D+B doesn’t know how to market itself. I couldn’t give two fucks about marketing.
DOA: That's really refreshing to hear. I think the fact that you focus on what's actually good and not what people say sells the best really reflects itself in the quality of your label. Amit is one of the few people who I'd personally call a true individual within this genre. What were your reasons for not only having signed him so early on, but making the decision for him to release an entire LP right out of the gate?
Klute: Again, I wanted to release music by Amit simply because I liked it. He's an individual in the sense that he has quite an identifiable sound and a very strong sound at that. I asked him to do an album because I really wanted to hear it for myself. I haven’t listened to it for awhile now. I'm going to stick it on again. There are some killers on there.
DOA: Sounds like the best reason to offer someone the chance to do an album, in my opinion. Speaking of albums, yours have been some of my favorite ones of all time. They always seem to tell a story through their progression, rather than being just a collection of tracks or DJ tools. Which of your albums is your personal favorite? Do you plan to do another any time soon?
Klute: Thank you very much! I do work hard on my albums as I want them to be albums and not collections of single tunes. After finishing the music, I spend ages painfully rearranging the running order of the CD's, to make it flow as best as I can. Out of all my albums, I like "No Ones Listening Anymore" and "Emperor’s New Clothes" the best.
DOA: If people don't know that your talent extends beyond the D+B realm, they should certainly get to. Could you give us a brief rundown of the other types of electronic music projects you've been involved with over the years and are there any plans for more of these releases in the future?
Klute: I can’t really describe exactly what the other kinds of music I make are. Really it’s just Klute at a different tempo. I'm very influenced by Techno as well as ethereal, soundscape-y stuff. I'm always writing this kind of music in-between my D+B output. I'm always planning to do something bigger and better with it but fall prey to the D+B crutch. I've been getting back into my guitars again this last year which has been a lot of fun.
DOA: That's awesome to hear that you're not limiting your creative abilities and good news for fans of the diverse Klute sound. You have a real knack for signing newer and very distinct artists who are versatile but who compliment the sound of your label very well. Recently you put out a single from the talented trio, Dose, Trei, and Menace, who hail from New Zealand. Are there any other new artists out there who you see great potential in?
Klute: In the past it was quite easy as there weren’t so many labels around and most of the labels which were around wouldn't have touched the people whose music I released with a barge pole at the time. However, these days I think it’s harder to stay unique as everyone and their mother have started a label. I think there’s something special about the relationship between an artist and a label. These days it seems a lot of new artists make the mistake of signing anything they can to anyone who asks. This turns me off from quite a few people who I see potential but feel cheapen their names with too many weak releases too soon.
DOA: Would it be possible for us to grab a Top 5 from you at this time?
1. Telemetrik - Cosmos
2. Klute - Halloween
3. Calibre - Leave Me
4. Mindscape and Safair - Heatstroke
5. SKC - the World is Changed
DOA: Look, it's a bird! It's a plane! Oh nevermind, it's just a Myspace type survey:
* What was your favorite film as a kid? Walkabout
* Do you have any pets? 2 cats
* Who are the greatest bands of all time? UK Subs and the Cocteau Twins
* If you were banished to a deserted island but could only bring 5 items, what would those items be? A good friend, a good woman, an iPod with speakers, a solar powered generator and a pizza.
* Who are your current favorite non-D+B artists? Electric Wizard, Earthride, Om, Jesu, Fucked Up… most of what I really listen to isn’t current at all.
* Which city is your favorite to play a gig in? Auckland, Boston, Chicago and Wellington.
DOA: Many, many thanks for the interview. Best wishes for 2008.
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