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The Bug - The Bug's Trip To The Zoo

Author: Carlisle Rogers
Monday, 7 July 2008
With a new album, London Zoo, out on Ninja Tune, dancehall, grime and dubstep godfather The Bug, aka Kevin Martin, is lockstepping his way into the minds of a generation of turned on English kids. Featuring a slew of collaborations with guys like Ricky Rankin and Flowdan, the album is right on the pulse of a brand new scene.

Over in the motherland, dubstep nights are doing right now what jungle nights were doing in the early '90s, quietly and steadily becoming a movement. Martin says what got him into the studio originally though was hip hop. 'The reason I learned to produce,' he scrawls in his languid London drawl, 'in hindsight, was probably due to Public Enemy and The Bomb Squad. I was so completely blown away by Public Enemy and the whole sonic impact of what they were doing. The intensity it had, so many different levels, it was funky and noisy as hell, antagonistic, soulful, and it just had so much going for it. I didn't think it would be possible to make music that had that much going for it and that was that intense with machines. I was probably quite snobby at the time, working in a band that was trying to mix noise rock with free jazz. I think Public Enemy had a large part to do with why I wanted to produce.

'I think working with Justin, who was the other half of Techno Animal, with me [also inspired me]. He was the main guy behind a group called Godflesh, a band that mixed metal with hip hop beats, but they got really huge. Justin had all the gear because he got a deal with Sony and my band and his band were touring together and we just got on really well and wanted the same things from music. He was frustrated from dealing with metal kids and felt he wanted to do more; I was frustrated being in a band with ten other people who just wanted their performances preserved on tape.'

Martin says one of the things that draws him to dub music and dub producers is the way they can roll on. 'Dub tries to keep songs open-ended and infinite as opposed to finite. A lot of rock music is stuck in reverse and looking backwards all the time, and it seems that a live show is about making a polished version of a song that is on an album. A lot of dub tore up the rulebook and fucked with the formulas. In the studio, if you use dub and an idea, you realize music is unlimited and you can shape it anyway you want.'

Two and a half years after his last album, Pressure, Martin says he always feels it when working on LPs. 'For me, I wanted to make an album that had content, context and had a reason to exist,' he says. 'The music I always cherished the most, whether it be reggae, hip hop, post-punk, pre-jazz, is music that had fire in its belly and reflected the environment it came from, the politic, the passion and fashion. Most dance music I hear doesn't have that, it's just formulaic factory music which serves its purpose, but that's just not what I wanted for my particular album.'

WHO: The Bug
WHAT: London Zoo through Ninja Tune/Inertia
WHEN: Out now