From his days as Silkworm (backing up the legendary Digable Planets) to his lauded creative history at Ovum Records in Philadelphia, King Britt has ebbed and flowed with the times, creating some of the most poignant and shapeshifting electronic music of the past decade. His newest venture, Saturn Never Sleeps--a monthly experimental performance--is a heavy exploration of the crossroads where innovative sights and sounds converge, representing a major shift in Britt's approach to music-making.
Long Beach is getting a real treat with this gig at Rhythm Lounge Friday (March 5), which will be King's last before heading to Miami for a string of Winter Music Conference dates. He'll no doubt drop tracks from his new album, the continuously-mixed Intricate Beauty, so keep your ear out for "Blackhand Side."
OC Weekly (Rich Thomas): Intricate Beauty is being listed on the press release as your "final original artist album." Was there a conscious decision to go back and mine some of those classic sounds and feelings from past recordings and eras?
King Britt: [Laughs] No, its my final "conventional" dance album. I'm moving into experimental territory permanently. I did feel compelled to go back to my dance roots on this.
Saturn Never Sleeps has definitely been a fantastic journey. We have been able to show people that live improvisation and creativity can happen within the walls of electronic music. We have also been able to bring in artists we respect and love, but who are not necessarily known to this audience. Ras_G, AFTA-1, these names are big for us, but for the academia and dance audience, it's a new experience. We have also been able to showcase mind-blowing visualists in the process; showing the relationships between sight, sound and technology. On a personal level, it's been great to create with someone with the same passion and drive. We have definitely helped each other grow creatively. I am definitely a new man because of it.
What kinds of sounds can people expect to hear at Rhythm Lounge this week? I see it's your last gig before Winter Music Conference craziness sets in.
I don't know. I'm going to go all over the place. The weird thing is that because I have been playing in a live platform so much lately, DJing is changing for me. I think by the summer I will have a whole new approach to this as well. More micro sounds and creating songs live on the fly instead of just playing my favorite records. Nonetheless, Friday at Rhythm Lounge will be superb music and vibes!
Who, in your opinion, is really pushing the boundaries of house music these days? It seems like such a fertile time for the genre, with all that tech-house madness and Native Instruments-style micro-programming permeating throughout the scene. It's really upping the funky quotient.
Four Tet's new album is a masterpiece of micro-programming and sounds. Herbert has always been a favorite. But I really haven't been listening to house much. I'm more into what you guys have been doing over there in LA. Ras_G, Toki, Gonjasufi all have had my ear. It brings me back to the early days of drum and bass with Reinforced and Metalheadz. Sonic madness!
Talk to me about some of the scoring and production you've done, specifically the Never Lose Sight of Freedom piece for the government. What was that project, and how did you come to work on it?
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You have done your research, my friend. This was a scoring project for the museum that was built to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King's march from Selma to Montgomery. They heard the Sister Gertrude Morgan Project and wanted a similar sound for the score. It was an honor to do it. It is now shown in schools.
I also read that you're planning to make elements of Intricate Beauty available to potential remixers. Would these be loops and samples?