Built to Spill

The ADD world of Kid 606 resembles an oversexed, Mad-magazine-reading kid who's just been introduced to acid and gabber. It is all about spontaneity, rushing headlong into whatever he hears and processing it into a gloriously inspired mess.

Miguel Depedro, the man behind this boyish yet mature persona, claims industrial godheads Ministry of Sound, Skinny Puppy, and Throbbing Gristle as influences. But on his latest album, Who Still Kill Sound?, he ties together ragga mash-ups with stuttered drum and bass jabs, sautés old-school booty jams, and underlines it all with rampant techno and hardcore elements. For example, on "Robitussin Motherfucker (DJ Screw RIP)," a homage to the late, influential Houston producer DJ Screw, Depedro slows down Trina's lyrics on "Nann Nigga," until the brazen rapper bubbles with sexual tension over the song's rave bleeps.

In a recent phone interview, Depedro freely describes his sound as "defined, unique, inspired, frenetic, caustic, and troubled." Yet he insists that he makes dance music. His concerts bear witness to this; wherever he performs, collating arrhythmic tracks from a laptop computer, you'll find people jumping and spazzing about, bouncing along in time to his beats. Far from a cold and obsessive IDM artist who relies on ProTools programs to format his records, he abuses technology to crank out inspired, anarchic noise. "I let [the media] categorize as they will," he says. "It's never really bothered me, though they'd be surprised because I don't even use ProTools."

Still, the presence of so many genres makes it difficult to categorize Kid 606. "Well when people ask what kind of music I make, I can tell them it's like Autechre and Aphex Twin, but even those are obscure references," he says, referring to the two pioneering British acts who helped define hip-hop-informed electronic music in the Nineties. "Fortunately I live in an area where I can just say I make electronic music and people are like, oh, all right, that stuff."

Born in Venezuela, Depedro left the country with his mother and brother at the age of six to escape the heightening political climate. "My father still lives in Caracas and the government situation and Third World conditions of the country actually do play a role in my music," he explains. "Just knowing and seeing what I could have been denied, living with the opportunity to make music plays a big role."

Depedro made his way to San Diego, where he released some early, tentative recordings; then moved to Oakland, finding plenty of conspirators within the Bay Area's notoriously freewheeling indie-rock and electronic scene. At the tender age of twenty, he founded his own label, Tigerbeat6, putting out efforts by such genre-defying iconoclasts as the chameleonic musician, MC, and singer Cex; electro-rock band Numbers; party rapper Gold Chains; and virtuoso producer DJ/rupture. Meanwhile, Depedro signed a solo artist deal with Ipecac Recordings, an equally adventurous label started by former Faith No More frontman Mike Patton, and released the groundbreaking Down With the Scene in 2000.

"I used the money from my advance from Ipecac to start Tigerbeat6 out of necessity," explains Depedro. "I was tired of so many of [my friends] being told that the music was good but didn't fit a label, or that they'd buy it when it came out but not put it out themselves, so I did it myself, and regardless of financial success I've always enjoyed what we've put out."

How has Kid 606 been able to establish himself as a label owner, mentor, internationally-acclaimed recording artist, and mouthpiece for a generation of bedroom producers willing to kill sound, at such a relatively young age? "People ask why I did things so young. I say because I had to," he says. "For all the experiences I haven't had -- I started at fourteen and I just turned 25 -- it's those things that some may say I've missed out on that took my music to where it is now."

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Robert Sawyer