Don't even try to pinpoint down Kenneth James Gibson. The chameleonic Los Angeles-based musician and producer has basically waged war against categorization over the past two decades. And he changes monikers just as often as he changes his sound.
In the '90s it was noise pop as the Furry Things. Then it was dub techno and miscellaneous experimental electronica as Eight Frozen Modules, dubLoner, and Reverse Commuter, among others. He's even released shoegazy folk-rock as half of the duo Bell Gardens.
But in the world of underground techno, Gibson is best known as [a]pendics.shuffle, a purveyor of trippy atmospheric minimal beats and hypnotic immersive sets that listeners don't soon forget.
Catch a rare performance by Mr. Gibson as [a]pendics.shuffle at Q Lounge this Sunday. But first find out what the sonic iconoclast had to tell Crossfade.
Crossfade: What did you listen to growing up? Which artists or records do you think shaped you the most as an artist?
Kenneth James Gibson: I'm on a big dose of Nyquil, as I have this shitty cold, so excuse me if my answers are a bit loopy! Growing up, I listened to a whole lot of stuff. I was a breaker at the age of 12, and was listening to a lot of electro and early hip hop in the '80s. Later on, I got into shit like the Butthole Surfers and punk stuff, and from there got into bands like Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine, to lots of 60's psychedelic and pop, from the Beach Boys to the Red Crayola. Then I got really into The Orb and Aphex Twin and stuff like that.
On the electronic side of influences, my early love of electro definitely left an impression, but The Orb albums Orbus Terrarum and Pomme Fritz along with early Aphex and Meat Beat Manifesto, then getting heavily into King Tubby and Mad Professor, made me want to get into the studio and make it happen. Dub has been a huge influence from then on, on every type of music I make.
How did you transition from playing rock with the Furry Things to producing electronic music?
Well at the time, I was sick of collaborating and started doing my own thing. King Coffee from the Butthole Surfers gave me my first sampler, and I made a bunch of tunes on four-track which came out as the first Eight Frozen Modules record on his label Trance Syndicate. It was a natural progression.
You've produced and released music under so many different names. What is the impetus for working under different identities? Are you deliberately avoiding familiarity and a single recognizable brand?
Well [a]pendics.shuffle has been my main electronic focus for some time now. I have done loads of different aliases in the past, but right now the main one is [a]pendics.shuffle. Although I still do stuff under my real name for Culprit and dub stuff as dubLoner. And there's a slew of Reverse Commuter stuff about to be released on DJ Three's label Hallucination Ltd. Different identities are really for different styles of music, and some labels want one certain identity just for them, which is fine with me. I just make loads of music and that's what I do. Whatever happens to it later is kinda up in the air.
So how did you come up with the [a]pendics.shuffle moniker and what exactly does it mean?
When you dance, your [a]pendics shuffles around in your body!
2011 saw you gain more international recognition through your releases on the Culprit label. How did you first hook up with Droog and the label and why did you decide to release with them?
I had just met them around at gigs and at a couple hazy nights at their old house known as "The Bunker", and things just happened. Two of them were also friends from Texas of my other friend, Brian McBride, who I work on my band Bell Gardens with, so there was a connection. They asked me to do an album for them under my real name, my more house-oriented stuff. So it sounded right. Good chaps.
What have you been up to in 2012 and what do you have going on for the rest of the year? Any forthcoming projects or releases?
Lots of things happening. Collaborations with Mr.C, Dilo, Mikael Stavöstrand, Anthony Collins and my wife Kelly Johnston-Gibson, which will come out later in the year and next year. My label Adjunct has been quite busy. We released the first 12-inch of a few collaborations from [a]pendics.shuffle and Mr.C, titled "Something Strange", and we are about to release "Something Strange Part Two" next month. We have a whole bunch of amazing releases coming out through 2012 and 2013 that will definitely stand out. I have done a bunch of remixes as well in 2012 for artists from Dilo to Douglas McCarthy from Nitzer Ebb. My band Bell Gardens will have its first full-length and new single released this year as well.
How did Bell Gardens first come about? What does this project offer you artistically in contrast to your techno work?
The idea of Bell Gardens started when I was touring with Stars Of The Lid, as their sound guy. Brian and I had talked about it a little, then when he moved to LA, we kept talking about it, and finally decided to do it. Since then, we have been recording loads and loads of stuff and have a full band. We have one EP that came out on our own label Failed Better a while ago, and a new single and LP later this year on the UK label Southern Records. This project has taken a bunch of my time in 2012 and will continue.
How has the EDM scene evolved in LA since you moved there? What has it imparted to you as a musician?
It's evolved quite a bit for sure. It's a pretty healthy scene I'd say! That being said, I don't really go to most parties these days -- too busy and focused on working in the studio. The scene hasn't imparted to me at all as a musician. I could make the same music anywhere. I live in LA because I love California and the history of it, not the current music scene.
Your techno sound is marked by sort of weird eerie quirks and atmospheres. What sort of mental experience do you aim to take listeners through on the dancefloor?
I want people to just lose their minds on the dancefloor -- let loose and disappear into some other world. That's all!
So what can Miami expect during your performance as [a]pendics.shuffle at Q Lounge?