An Interview with Kris Wadsworth

We have been loving Kris Wadsworth’s work for a while now, so catching up with the Detroit aficionado ahead of his gig at The Egg in London on Saturday was a real treat. The Popularity LP, released on Hypercolour  in February, was smothered in typical Wadsworth flair, hinting at the harder side of techno with ‘Popularity’, the resonant licks of acid house in ‘Cock Soup’, and industrial thrashes of sound with ‘Common Knowledge’.

He’s definitely one of the more opinionated artists out there, so read on for this no holds barred interview as we discuss music trends, his opinion of the London scene, and getting a better insight into his troubled past…

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With musical flickers of acid, techno and noise soundscapes, it’s pretty hard to pin down your sound, with tracks like Lime and Pink sending people crazy on a dance floor as they may not have heard much like it before – do you think too many people are playing it safe within dance music nowadays?

Yes. People want to make the big “hits.” They wake up with that goal in their minds. They go to gigs and cannot wait to perform these big Jesus Arms moments they see on the internet. People want to act like they are in the movie business and the discourse which is increasingly common is evidence of that. These people have a corporate, quote1commercialized view of basically anything creative. It’s a product to them, momentary and fleeting. It’s as if there are two sides of this music and whether or not I agree with other people’s stance, I know where I stand. I kind of went over to the other side for a brief period, working with “big” labels and people I have nothing in common with. That experience taught me that when people use the word “hit,” it kind of summarizes their motives in one word. They want to, as you wrote, ‘play it safe.’ In other words; people want to be famous, you know? They want to be rich and famous. Forget being creative, they want to be exploited. Flat-out milked like a cash cow. That is a common, collective world culture these days across the board, so why would it not be present in this music? It was a safe-haven in my eyes when I was a kid. A bunch of weird people making weird stuff and everyone around it kinda understood that. Now? It’s crazy. Totally. I’m 29 and I watched it change right in front of my eyes from around the age of 12 to now. You can’t fight it, but that doesn’t mean you have to fold to it in order to have a satisfying career. Anyone spreading that propaganda can come debate that with me any day and lose. The track you’re talking about was an old thing I had laying around for a few years. Its original release paid me an advance for a deposit for an attorney I needed at the time. How’s that? Haha! You know what I mean? Some tracks people latch on to for whatever reasons and it’s often very unpredictable. I like it that way.

Is It safe to say you nearly screwed your life up through partying too hard a few years ago? What would you say were your biggest lows that you have come back from?

Oh man…no it’s totally not ‘safe’ to say that or write that! Since you brought it up, I will keep this as brief and as direct as possible: I had a very serious (life-threatening) problem with drugs and alcohol which began before I was even a teenager. I struggled with that my whole life. It was not ‘partying’ and had NOTHING to do with music. It’s called alcoholism or addiction. It runs in my family. It also runs in the family of anysocio-economic, race, culture, country, or otherwise human classification on the planet. It is a disease. It will kill you. ‘PARTYING’ is NOT the same thing! Please understand that I’m not some anti-drug,after-school special, holy-roller type about it either. How could I be?  If getting fucked up is what works for you (or anyone), go for it. It doesn’t bother me at all. It took some getting used to, particularly being in this business, but you get better at it. I’m not the only one and to my peers (and fans) who I know went through the same shit, it’s like: HEY! We made it! Let’s party for REAL! You know? Enjoy your life and do all those things, achieve those goals and go those places etc. That’s the only reason I have ever mentioned any of this squote2tuff anywhere. For other people, you know? I love this music and I always have, and figuring out how to get a daily reprieve from my disease allowed me to have a career, and furthermore, a life. I have a life. I have not ‘come back’ from anything in relation to this music. This shit was something going on for a very long time in relation to how old I am. Unless I wanted to die or go to prison for a very long time, which is what happened to too many people I grew up with–or was ‘partying’ with as you wrote–then I suppose I had to get my shit together. This isn’t some PR angle being worked like Hollywood actors do. People ask me questions, I usually answer them. There is no “rehab comeback” story here. Only story here is that music played a huge role in saving my life. It gave me something healthy and positive to look forward to in some truly dark days. No PR exaggeration there. Also note; all the music I have ever made was made while sober, even when I wasn’t sober in the rest of my life. So again, as I wrote above, it was like…nothing to do with music or ‘partying.’ More like the gutter. I hope that’s not too much of a buzz kill for people. Probably helps explain why I’m not freaking out and juggling fire while I DJ too. Just in case anyone reading this is like: “How come he’s not juggling fire and taking his pants off while DJing?” Cause I’m sober as a judge, bro…in a room full of people off their heads. Haha! It’s different for me…it’s real.

You are playing Egg Presents on Saturday April 26th with Nicole Moudaber – how do you rate London as a party city?

Having played in London quite a bit, it can be absolutely amazing or absolutely deflating. It depends on where you play, who you play for, all sorts of things. Some of my favorite gigs have been in London; some of my least favorite gigs have been there too. Hopefully Egg and everyone involved will make for a great night. Hopefully I play well and everyone leaves happy and smiling. That’s the goal I have for every gig, every city, every time. The UK is generally a good time, you guys are a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to APR 26. Fingers crossed, eh?

Finally, what track conveys your mood right now?

DJ Shadow – “In/Flux.” Listen to it while reading this. Good question by the way. Sets the tone.