Formerly known by fans of drum’n’bass and breaks as Raiden, Berlin-based British producer Chris Jarman recently deployed “Dead Skin Cells,” his debut album in the guise of Kamikaze Space Programme (out on Osiris Music), after spreading some tracks on labels like WNCL Recordings, Mord and Mote-Evolver and tunes through regular sets, meeting the likes of Tresor and Berghain. On Kamikaze Space Programme, Chris managed to combine some sonorities of his DNB-driven age with contemporary techno (or post-techno) and rhythmical noise textures, but its creativity managed to give that plus to this stylistic hybridization. The release deserves to be checked out…particularly in possibly forthcoming suicidal space programs…
Chain DLK: Hi, Chris! How are you?
Chris Jarman: Hello! Good, thanks, trying to stay cool in this extreme heat, 98 degrees at the moment! I’m off work for the summer; just played at this nutty club called Berghain yesterday which is always crazy, and my new album was released on the same day. Probably going to take me a few days to get over all this excitement.
Chain DLK: A British DJ in Berlin…sounding like an American Werewolf in London? Jokes aside, even if I can imagine the reasons, as Berlin can be considered the real European capital of techno culture, music and parties, why did you move there?
Chris Jarman: Or a plastic cockney in Berlin! It’s certainly a cliche to move to here, but there’s no smoke without fire. I was once told Berlin is the graveyard of creativity by a particularly prolific artist and I can see their point; it is very easy to get distracted here, so you need some discipline. I kept visiting Berlin and being incredibly inspired, and each stay would become progressively longer until the point where I didn’t go home. I’m not so into the clubs these days. I’d rather hold court at the bar where I can sit down. I’m really enjoying the whole Audio Visual scene; there’s some utterly mind blowing events going on particularly at Kraftwerk, such as Berlin Atonal, Skalar and Deep Web. What keeps me in Berlin is my job as a university lecturer at dBs music in creative music production. I love my job and my students. There’s an incredible sense of community here. It’s a very inspirational city full amazing people from all walks of life, from every corner of the globe. But at the same time, Berlin has made me a lot more sensitive to my roots in the UK bass music culture as there’s very little of that here. Berlin could do with an extra octave of bass!
Chain DLK: A question that anyone who got in touch with your music maybe already asked…why did you name your project Kamikaze Space Programme? Just a way to describe your style or a slightly sneering statement on space programs?C
Chris Jarman: I originally took that title from a song on an album called ‘Curse of the Golden Vampire’ by Techno Animal, aka Alec Empire. It seems such a ridiculous concept; a space programme based on a promise of failure. I used this name for a Raiden EP on my Offkey label back in 2009. When it was time to make a new alias, I felt this name was too good for just an EP, not to mention it would be the largest name on any flyer, which has not yet been beaten. My next alias will consist of 2 letters or one syllable with the email to match.
Chain DLK: What’s up there beyond the clouds in your viewpoint?
Chris Jarman: Lots of empty space following the laws of physics that is hostile to life, punctuated with the odd bright, radioactive mass that is begging to be explored. Maybe a Dyson sphere.
Chain DLK: Besides bpm and drum patterns, I noticed a certain similarity of many tracks made by you as Kamikaze Space Programme to the style and the way of forging breaks by Future Sound of London… I guess you’re a fan of FSOL, aren’t you? Are there any artists that you could consider a milestone in the development of your music?
Chris Jarman: Ha! I’m a HUGE fan of the Future Sound of London, completely obsessed; is it really that obvious!? I have been listening to their music since they released Dead Cities, which is my favorite album of all time. I still buy every record they make on sight, which is a lot. I don’t know how they have such a prolific output, releasing multiple albums per year. For me, they are the greatest producers of all time, so any comparison I take as a huge compliment.
Aside from FSOL, other artists which have inspired me heavily in terms of my music production would be Mika Vainio, Dillinja, Emptyset, The Scientist, Mick Harris, Roly Porter, Matthew Herbert, Ed Rush, and Optical, lots of bands, I could go on…I’m a huge fan of many types of music, everything from Latin music such as Hector Lavoe and Les Baxter, to field recordists such as Alan Lamb’s Wire Music and Chris Watson. I just love sound.
Chain DLK: As an admirer of Renegade Hardware, I admit I knew you as Raiden before, but I pretty much ignored the project KSP. Maybe I heard some Kamikaze Space Programme, but I should have thought it was just a weird and vaguely fancy way to refer to a remix. What’s the bridge connecting Raiden and KSP?
Chris Jarman: I would say the connection between my aliases as Raiden, Dot Product and KSP have become quite blurred recently, particularly on my latest KSP album. You can hear influences from all my music projects over the years on this latest record. When KSP started, it was exclusively based around field recording, but this has opened up a bit over the last few years. For some time, I disregarded my past as a DNB producer, but these days I’m quite proud of it; it’s not easy music to make or operate in, but it has taught me a lot. I’ve recently built a studio centered around the equipment from the late 90’s, which Jungle was made with, gear I couldn’t afford at the time, merged with cutting edge equipment and homemade microphones. This clash of heritage with modern equipment makes for a power set up that links past, present and future.
Chain DLK: I had the chance to listen to your recent album Dead Skin Cells! Very interesting tracks on it! First of all, what’s its conceptual framework (if there’s any)? What’s the common aspect (besides the author!) of the tracks included in this album?
Chris Jarman: Thank you! There is a strong production aesthetic to this record. I wanted to pursue a more stripped-down, bass-heavy sound and work more with space and emotion. I asked Simon Shreeve if I could make an LP for Osiris and, as someone who has supported me for almost 20 years, he was into the idea and gave me total creative freedom; he didn’t even want to hear the record until it was mastered. First I wrote about 20 tracks, but something was missing and I hadn’t quite nailed the sound I was imagining, so I scrapped every song then started again. I built an all-new hardware set up to disrupt the habitual in the box workflow I had been using for the last few years and built a new room. From a production standpoint, the concept of the album is based around the many obscure field recordings I have made over the last few years such as tesla coils, rain, crickets (they are the hardest things to record, especially Greek crickets) and background ambiances from my various travels. These would be manipulated using E-MU hardware samplers then weaved together with hardware jams using many effect pedals, with lots of dub mixing techniques using a large vintage analog mixing console. I also explored glitch/data processing, and I recorded impulse response effects of unique spaces. I wanted to make something that captured everything I have learned in the 20 years that I have been producing music in one release. This LP is my latest invention.
Chain DLK: Can Derelict (awesome track!) be considered a reference to your work as Raiden? If yes, why such a title for this ring of the chain?
Chris Jarman: Absolutely. I find long, distorted bass tones in combination with melodic pads to be highly emotional, which many Raiden tracks also had. Originally, the track didn’t have any drums and it was intended as an interlude. As for the title, I wrote this track about a feeling of being numb and emotionally derelict. Many of the tracks on the LP have a reference to decay or bad weather, which is a metaphor for a being melancholic.
Chain DLK: I heard very well-forged breaks over the whole album…do you miss jungle sonorities, by chance?
Chris Jarman: Yes, for sure, but I also wouldn’t want to make music as I did 20 years ago. I wanted to take the parts of jungle I love, leave the bits I didn’t and make something fresh. After spending the last 7 years working with rhythms that were made purely from chopped foley recordings, I started to miss using sampled breakbeats and twisting them; the vintage samplers certainly helped. Breaks have a lot of vibes baked into them as it’s the recording of a talented drummer at the peak of their creative flow. Nowadays, I have a lot more knowledge in production that I wish I knew back when I was making DNB. I adapted many techniques on the drums that I adopted from top mix engineers such as Tchad Blake. For my next record, I recently booked a studio and recorded hours of live drums played by one of my students, which I’m currently mixing and editing. Aside from the breaks, I really missed making huge sub-bass that would test even the biggest sound systems; there’s something very physical and intense about low end when it’s done right. No musical movement did this as well as Jungle/ DNB (apart from dub!) and it’s forever in my heart.
Chain DLK: Is there any track that could be somehow related to your inner world (other than possible references to outer space!)?
Chris Jarman: I would say I’m more fascinated by inner space than outer, the atom, etc. So let’s say Stratosaatti by Ø / Mika Vainio!
Chain DLK: Would you say that Offkey ceased any activity, or are you planning to push something through your imprint?
Chris Jarman: I would probably say that it is finished. But I’m constantly contradicting myself, so who knows? Maybe one day it could come back. The catalog is no longer available; I quite like the idea that it existed in one era and that’s it. I like to move forward and not dwell on past glories. For now, I don’t have much desire to run a label as I’m so busy with teaching, so what time I do have left for music I’d rather produce, and I’m more than happy with the labels I record for…
Chain DLK: I saw your name on a split release on Ohm Resistance together with the one of Mick Harris (as Fret)! Any word about this split?
Chris Jarman: Mick Harris has been a huge inspiration to me since the early 90s. His recent output as Fret has blown my mind, particularly the Overdepth LP. Kurt that runs Ohm Resistance knew this and invited me to contribute a track to the Ohm Resistance subscription series, with a bait of sharing the record with Mick as Fret. Where do I sign??? I got to meet Mick recently, which was amazing. We talked about music for all but 30 seconds and spent the rest of the evening talking about coarse fishing; he loves it as much as I do.
Chain DLK:Any collaborative work in progress?
Chris Jarman: Yes, many. For me, collaboration is purely fun, a social activity, and if a track and a cup of tea come out of it, even better. I’ve been working on new music at various stages of completion with Simon Shreeve / MØnic, Cocktail Party Effect, Appleblim, Charlton, Boris Brenecki and Second Storey.
With Adam Winchester (as Dot Product), we have an EP out soon with Japanoise legend KK Null, and collabs in progress with Renate Knapp (Singer of Amon Dull ii) and Richard Thair (drummer of Red Snapper, Sabres of Paradise, The Aloof). We have a new member called Geso who’s a talented visual artist.
Chain DLK: …And as a soloist? Any forthcoming stuff?
Chris Jarman: I’m currently working on another KSP album, also for Osiris music. It’s still in its very early stages, so hard to say what the vibe is, but so far it seems to be an extension of Dead Skin Cells, slower with much heavier low end and more emotion, but we’ll see when it’s finished. I hope to release this within the next year. For the future, I’d like to focus more on albums rather than singles/EPs. I rarely listen to EPs myself, only albums, so I thought, I should be doing this too.
Chain DLK: Do you keep on performing on live stage? Under the guise of…? DJ/producer? Raiden/KSP/Chris?
Chris Jarman: I’m very busy playing as KSP all over the world with live sets and DJ sets, although nowadays I only do shows I’m really into. I’m currently working on a live AV show with an extremely talented visual artist called Geso. I’m about to do my first 3d Ambisonics live set in London next month, which I’m really excited about, and I’d like to do more of these concert type shows as we do as Dot Product. I tend to play the odd Raiden set once per year saying this is the last time; I’ve been saying that for the last 8 years. I still perform with Dot Product, and we have our first audiovisual installation at an experimental arts festival in Spain next year. I’d like to do more sets with Cocktail Party Effect in the future too, as we have so much chemistry as well as being one of the most exciting producers of the moment.