INTERVIEW: Samuel Kerridge Talks Musical Experimentation and Dividing Opinion

"Music would be fucking boring if we all loved the same thing" - we get to know a bit about UK Techno/Noise artist Samuel Kerridge
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"Music would be fucking boring if we all loved the same thing" - we get to know a bit about UK Techno/Noise artist Samuel Kerridge

Mancunian-born Samuel Kerridge isn’t looking for your approval. In fact he doesn’t really care what anybody thinks, which is quite frankly refreshing.

With an inclination towards the more experimental side of Techno, his focus is on exploring sound and creating music that will gauge a reaction, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.

Launching his event series Contort, and more recently his label of the same name, with the help of wife Hayley he set upon curating events to satisfy his thirst for the experimental, the unconventional and the eclectic.

This week see’s the release of his new album, Fatal Light Attraction, originally premiered at Berlin Atonal last year - a showcase of individualism that he not only pursues in his label's output and events, but in his own productions as well.

We caught up with the man himself to get the lowdown on his LP release and his forthcoming USA tour.

Samuel Kerridge

You return to Regis’ Downwards imprint for your third album, Fatal Light Attraction. Do you have a strong connection to his label?

It’s an imprint where I feel my most comfortable as an artist. Absolutely no bullshit, and there’s a certain romanticism to it all. FLA will be my second full length on the label, which followed two EP’s, and tracks featured on the 20 years compilation, and Talker LP. A large portion of my output has been presented on Downwards so in answer to your question, yeah, I’d say there is a strong connection.

And you’ve just released SØS Gunver Ryberg’s debut EP ‘AFTRYK’ on your own label Contort - how did that come about? Had she been on your radar for a while?

We met SØS in late 2013, via our mutual friend Cristian Vogel. She played for us at Contort #8 and her performance was so impressive that Hayley and I booked her a few months later for the Contort showcase at Berlin Atonal 2014. Once we started the label, we invited her to perform at the opening event in 2015, it was a natural progression to ask SØS to be part of the imprint and support her even further as an artist.

On the subject of Contort, you and your wife, Hayley, started the event series a few years ago with the label following last year. What was the concept behind this? Did you want to offer listeners something different with your releases and nights?

The event series started in 2012. In our eyes we saw a void that needed to be filled, a Sunday afternoon offering music far away from what Berlin has recently become famous for, and instead aiming for an event closer to what Berlin was originally about. There was an appetite for it, the event picked up traction quickly. Everything in between has brought us to this point now, including the curation of Berlin Atonal festival on every Sunday since its reincarnation. With our releases we’re looking for individualism, not necessarily from a specific genre. I think that has shown with our discography so far. Ultimately we want the degenerates, raw and unconventional music with soul.

Your location of choice for Contort was Berlin, seeing a gap in the scene for experimental music. Is there anywhere that is a real driving force for more leftfield industrial music?

I would never put Contort as a label or event series exclusively in the bracket of leftfield industrial music. The artists we release and book come from different backgrounds. It’s eclectic. I get bored of repetitive music quickly, I need to be challenged, so it’s just as much about keeping it fresh for ourselves as well as the listener.

Has exploring and experimenting with sound always interested you then? Or did something just click one day and make you change your way of thinking about music production?

It was an obvious outcome leading on from various factors and frustrations. It’s mainly born out of a desire to experiment with sound, and using music as an outlet for the various characters that inhabit me.

So when you sit down to produce a track, do you have a certain process that you follow? Or is it very much an impulsive approach?

There is no process whatsoever, it’s all impulsive, everything I do, there is no plan.

Is there a favorite piece of hardware that you use when producing?

Too many to list, but I’ve mainly been using custom built synthesisers and sound modules. There’s no right or wrong way to produce music, but each unit brings their own uniqueness to my workflow, and most importantly are hands on.

Berlin Atonal saw you and collaborators, Andrej Boleslavsky and Maria Judova, correlate light and sound in real time. What inspired you to merge music, lighting and visuals?

Dependant on the circumstances and environment visuals can distract focus, with this in mind we wanted to manipulate a light source, so it’s more a sensory overload than anything visual based. When used correctly lighting can be an extremely powerful tool. It’s a reflection of how we visualise my music. I’m not opposed to visuals, far from it, it’s all about presentation and context. I’ve recently finished a new A/V project titled ’The Mysterious Other’. Working with Taylor Burch & Zoe Kahlert it’s an original 40 minute film and live improvised soundtrack loosely based on Jean Cocteau s’adresse à l’an 2000.

That’s something we’ll look forward to. And speaking of which, we hear you are coming over to America in May. Do you think your exploration of noise and industrial sounds will translate across the Atlantic?

I’d like to think so, but if you have a linear outlook towards music you may be offended. I want a reaction, to divide opinion, there needs to be discussion, music would be fucking boring if we all loved the same thing.

But of course. In that case, is there anything you want an audience to take away after seeing your live performances?

Fingers crossed, not an STI.

You can order ‘Fatal Light Attraction’ here and SØS Gunver Ryberg’s AFTRYK on Contort

Samuel Kerridge