The rise and rise of HAAi
King Midas Sound – a trio made up of producer Kevin Martin, poet Roger Robinson and Japanese singer Kiki Hitomi who make unnerving lovers rock – made one of the most resonant albums of recent years with 2009’s ‘Waiting For You’ [Hyperdub]. Following on from Martin’s blinding album as The Bug, as well as his time in early industrial-leaning bands Ice and GOD, the album was an astounding release that explored his fascination with dub’s infinitely delicate gravity and the tender emotions of reggae, transposed with a fire-and-brimstone take on 21st century city life. It has lots of great songs and sounds amazing in the city when it snows, trust me.
Nearly two years on, the trio are set to release a remix album, ‘Without You’, also on Hyperdub. Unlike quite a few recent, over-obvious re-albums, the tracks have been selected with skill and grace, and work as a fascinating exploration of the album itself, and of bass’s odd resonances. Drawing on his experience as an archivist as well as a musician, Martin has said in interviews that ‘Without You’ is less a collection of rehashes by obvious characters than an international players club of interesting musicians.
And it works. ‘Waiting For You’ is an exploration of bass resonance, dub itself, and the infinite possibilities thereof – ghostly, tender, dread-ful, comforting, troubling – as well as an incredible record of what happens when the odd visions of Jamaican engineers working in the 70s are processed by a masterful musician today. ‘Without You’ offers an incredible record of the other places these visions were picked up – Hype Williams’ earthy abstraction, Joel Ford’s memory jams, Gang Gang’s primal explorations, the dazzling cinematic scope of Kuedo, as well, with Mala, the staggering weight of dubstep tension.
As you can tell, I was quite taken with the album, and rushed off a request for a mix as soon as possible. The above was returned, featuring new vocals from Kiki. It’s moves from drone metal to kraut to rap to techno, never losing the song, never losing the dream. Download it right away, and grab the album, please.
1. Swanlights (Oneohtrix Point Never edit) / Antony and the Johnsons
2. N.L.T. / Sunn O))) & Boris
3. 69th Street Bridge/ John Carpenter
4. 07 Untitled / Hype Williams + ‘Can’t say I love U’ Kiki revoice
5. Lean Boot (Version) / Richie Davis + ‘Army of One’ Kiki revoice
6. Rumble Dub / King Jammy Meets Dry & Heavy + ‘ My Sweetest Vampire’ Kiki revoice
7. Vanghoma / Tiyiselani Vomaseve + Alien revoice
8. Lugom-ix / Ricardo Villalobos + ‘Gypsy Woman’ Kiki revoice
9. Keep Your Distance /Amon Tobin + ‘Walking On Gilded Splinters’ Kiki revoice
10. Gris Gris Gumbo Yaya / Dr. John
11. Beware / Death Grips + ‘Pain under the blue sky’ Kiki revoice
12. Wonderland / Black Chow
13. Free press and curl / Shabazz Palaces
14. Giant Squid / Zongamin + ‘Catch a Fire riot mix’ Kiki revoice
15. Leaf House / Animal Collective
16. Tuk Tuk / OLAibi
17. Jamming (edit) / Black Roots Players + ‘‘Living in the dream Dub’ Kiki HItomi
18. Variation of Birds / The Knife
19. Lonely Star / The Weeknd
20. Dying butterfly – Can
21. Hater / Dj Rupture vs Filastine + ‘Earth A Kill Ya’ Kiki revoice
22. Sparrou-Amedito / Robert A.A. Lowe
How’s it going?
I am good, and following a really healthy routine at the moment. Waking up early in the morning and going for nice walks with my dog (a Chow Chow, which is a kind of lazy breed that is extremely chilled and laid back to the point of complete standstill..lol). Whilst she is chilling in the park, I do plenty of stretch exercises and some yoga poses, then always manage to get inspired to write good, new melodies, which come up in my head while I am listening to dub version of songs or instrumental tracks on my iPod. Then I will often record sketches on my mobile, go home and sometimes start making demos straight after the dog walks. Which is what I whilst working on this mixtape.
Can you please tell us a bit about the mix?
I wanted to make this mix tape highly reflective of my own tastes, whilst adding my voice over existing backing tracks. I wanted to incorporate singing the same song in different vocal interpretations and styles, as lots of different Jamaican artists have done for many years, and as we have recently done for the forthcoming KMS album, ‘Without You’. Also I wanted to try duets with my favorite vocalists like Death Grips. Cause, yes, I would like to collaborate with them in the future, so this is my love calling song, haha… I also love reggae, so did some vocals on top of dub and version tracks. It basically reflects how I am generally, normally singing in the park, bath, kitchen or whilst I’m doing drawing/illustrations in my home in front of the laptop.
Please tell us a bit about the art and design work that you do outside of KMS?
I used to work on many graphic deigns for street clothing labels or skateboard companies. My first proper job was as the main designer for Heroin skateboards UK and Japan. They’re not pretty designs at all and all full of skulls, puke, dead animals and all the darkest stuff possible, haha! Since I began singing and making music around 2006, I have been getting more work from within the music industry, which is definitely a cool, and exciting, new area for me to get involved in. And now, spurred on by that, I think I also really want to get into art-directing music videos.
Do you prefer the recording process or playing live?
I love both of them. The recording process is like making a sculpture. Shaping the voice into certain creative forms that can fit and adapt to the tracks. I grew up in Japan, so my accent is Japanese Cockney, alien English lol.. So, it is a challenge for me to sing in English with full emotion, considering the English pronunciation, and the difficulty as a non-english native speaker.
But whilst I am in the process of finding my sound, by continually singing and practicing, I record my voice virtually every day, and somehow even by making mistakes, it brings me really good ideas very often. So I like the process of the recording very much, it is giving me strength/experience, and helps realise the idea of becoming a versatile singer. But being at the studio much of the time, definitely makes my ass itchy for live work! I definitely end up getting the feeling I gotta jump onstage and start singing and dancing, because I really love losing myself in a loud sound system.
What’s coming up for both you and KMS in the next few months?
We are releasing an album of reworks and revocaled tracks, ‘Without You’ on Hyperdub on Nov 7th. I am singing one track in Japanese, Tears and did the art work for the album. (Big up to Hyperdub for letting me use expensive gold foil and varnish inks for the album, the album is going to look really amazing!) My mate Inumikaku made a KMS documentary video that comes in two parts. I am so stoked about that, as it is really reflecting how we are now far different live, compared to our previous recordings/album.
Somebody at ‘Passion Of The Weiss’ told us that we were like My Bloody Valentine in Dub, when he caught our live show at Mutek, and that was a great compliment. It might give you a very rough idea where we are heading with our new fuzzy, blurred, loud live sound I guess. Also you can check our new single within the video doc, that we will be releasing early next year, which is gonna be called ‘Aroo’.
We are also making 3 ambient drones/tone poems that will be on the B-side for the new single and we are working on three short films based on 3 colours directed and filmed by the young and talented artist, XXIIRII and hopefully collaborating with an amazing dancer Alberto Velasco.
So the future is really exciting!