Kode9 on the History of Hyperdub Records

For the past 16 years, Hyperdub has evolved from a simple webzine to one of electronic music's most cutting-edge record labels — on par with the iconic Warp and Ninja Tune for its experimental and stylistically wide-ranging offerings which at times defy genre altogether.

At the label's helm is Kode9, AKA Steve Goodman, a sonic trailblazer in his own right that helped pioneer dubstep and continues pushing future bass via innovative productions and A&R work for the label.

Ahead of an intimate performance at Bardot on Thursday, we caught up with Goodman to chat about his musical roots and the evolution of Hyperdub.

New Times: What did you grow up listening to? And how did you first get drawn to electronic music? Were you active in the '90s UK rave scene?
Steve Goodman: As a teenager in Glasgow in the early '80s, the music I was into was mostly bullshit, until I discovered Scottish synth-pop like the Associates, early Simple Minds and local bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain. But also my dad had loads of great jazz tapes. When I started DJing in 1990, it was '70s funk, psychedelic jazz, hip-hop and early '90s house that got me. Then, I heard hardcore and jungle and entered a long dark tunnel for around eight years.

Hyperdub started out as a webzine in 2000. What prompted you to launch a webzine in the first place? And how did that platform evolve into the record label and artist collective it is today?
This was a similar time to the blog explosion, when there was so much great music writing that had nothing to do with the conventional music press. So we wanted to channel some of that brilliant writing into a webzine that had no editorial limitations on word length, or some overbearing control-freak editor forcing all the writers to make totally arbitrary edits to their pieces to fit some lame house style. Also, most of the writing on the tail end of UK garage and early grime and dubstep at that time just looked cooked-up by PR agents, so it was a chance go much, much deeper.

Your early releases as Kode9 were characterized as dubstep, and much of the music released on Hyperdub has been characterized as "post-dubstep" by the music media. How did the dubstep explosion of the mid-2000s play into what you were doing with the label and as a producer at the time?
The label and myself definitely were focused on those scenes that were brewing in London from 2000 until around 2008, which is when I started to look a bit further afield for the label to stay excited about music and what we were putting out. But yeah, Hyperdub and dubstep expanding around 2005-2006 was a very exciting period with great people in the scene, great parties, and quite a unique vibe. Yeah, post- dubstep is not a term I’m fond of — kind of meaningless to me, as Burial, for example, preceded 95 percent of what came to be the signature sound of dubstep. It also kind of erases the fact that most of the non-dubstep music we’ve put out in the last seven-or-so years had literally nothing to do with dubstep whatsoever.

Hyperdub's catalog runs the gamut from Burial's experimental bass, to footwork by DJ Rashad, and the electro-pop stylings of Jessy Lanza. When push comes to shove, what makes a Hyperdub record? What is your criteria for selecting artists to sign and music to release?
I'd like to think anything could be a Hyperdub record if I sign it. You alienate some people and bring other audiences in. That's life.

We're excited to see you throw down a Bardot on May 26. What can we expect?
How good the sound system is dictates how and what I play, so I tend to reserve judgment until I arrive at the club. But no doubt some footwork, some grime, and some Hyperdub releases, among other things.

Kode9. 10 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Bardot, 3456 N Miami Ave., 305-576-5570; bardotmiami.com. Tickets cost $12 via showclix.com

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