ADSR Mix 020: Kuma Graham
Nov. 18. 2016
This week we touch base with local music maverick: Kuma Graham. You might know Kuma as the host of the long running Art of Beatz radio show on 100.5 Vancouver coop radio, and yes he has supported, exposed, and participated in the local electronic music scene for well over a decade now. But what you might not realize is that Kuma is a skilled selector, producer, and DJ in his own right. So now the interviewer gets interviewed :) Read on below as we talk music, radio, and of course cake, and be sure to check out the nearly 2 hour ambient mix he’s left for us below.
Greetings mr kuma! whats going on at the moment?
Lots of running, cats and producing a damn fine radio show. All that and a great deal of music.
Looking at my desktop, there’s five different musical projects in various states of completion, ranging from 0-170 bpm. Inspired by Rennie Foster’s suggestion to start writing as a different tempo, I’ve got a live set of “house” coming together. You can hear one of the tunes from it on Dusk and Blackdown’s Rinse FM show from July of this year. There’s a dubstep album which has been waiting to get mixed down alongside its companion set of beatless deconstructions. Then there’s the jungle project.
As one half of Gunshae, I’ve got a tune out on Silent Records’ new compilation, “From Here To Tranquility 7.” I also hear that my Kuma remix of Michael Red and Gabriel Saloman’s Chambers project will be seeing the light of day.
Talk to us a little bit about the radio show you have been running for more than a decade now.. Art of Beatz on 100.5 Vancouver Coop radio. How has the journey been?
Radio is a craft and with any craft, it’s one that requires continuous practice, study and work. The Japanese term kaizen can apply, the continuous nature of improvement.
Art Of Beatz broadcasts on CFRO (100.5 FM in Vancouver/CoopRadio.org online) every Thursday night/Friday morning at Midnight PST and has been doing so for almost thirteen years. Our mandate when we were first offered the show was to represent Vancouver’s electronic music community as a whole and that’s what we do. This means genres from 0-200 bpm and beyond; and DJs ranging from the internationally renown to folks just on the come up. It means we’ve been able to give some of your fave DJs the chance to stretch out and do something different and we’ve been able to give people their first sets on the radio and in a few cases their first public sets, ever.
Why is it important to support your local scene?
Without support and opportunity, growth cannot occur and without your locals, you’d having nothing more than a city beholden to touring acts and their booking agents. Your support of your local scene allows people to take ownership of their craft and change lives for the better. Everybody has to start somewhere.
What local music are you digging at the moment?
I’m beyond chuffed that the Underground Hero, Gavin Froome, is back in the game. His new single on Nordic Trax is a proper return to form and a reminder why he’s one of my fave Vancouver house producers. Ded Sheppard is still my favorite local drum and bass producer. Queensyze’s recent ventures into house are blinding and I think there’s a bunch of people in that scene sleeping on her. Why Daega Sound aren’t touring world wide to dubstep audiences is beyond me. If you’re not grabbing everything on the Panospria label, you’re missing out. The previously mentioned Chambers dudes, together and by themselves are on something serious. Vancouver is not at a loss for goodness.
Your tastes seem to be quite diverse and eclectic. Take us through your journey through the genres, what got you started with electronic music in the first place?
That would take rather a long time but the how and the why goes something like this.
I like stuff that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. That means everything from Arvo Part and Omni Trio to Sunn 0)) and Jeff Mills.
I was an industrial kid, I latched onto a Chicago label called Wax Trax while I was in high school and ended up down a rabbit hole. This was a label that put out everything: Ministry and Cabaret Voltaire side projects, KMFDM, Meat Beat Manifesto, Clock DVA, Divine and Laibach. The biggest thing for me that they put out though was the acid house excursions of Coil and Psychic TV. Coil’s Love’s Secret Domain and Psychic TV’s Towards Thee Infinite Beat LPs split my little head in two. They taught me early on that you could in fact take the sensibility and structure of a genre and make it your own and if people didn’t like it, fuck em’. Later on, Wax Trax ended up getting bought out by a label called TvT around that time. Which might have thrown a few folks but they had an amazing head for licensing, which meant TvT were the first people to bring Underworld’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman to North America. They also had struck a deal with Warp, which meant that it was via these guys that I got my hands on Autechre’s Tri Repetae for the first time.
It was also around this time that I saw the video for Goldie’s “Inner City Life” on MuchMusic and completely lost it. I ended trading CDs with a guy of the infamous IDM-list to get a copy of “Timeless,” and from there, a long dark tunnel into bass music would happen. It was serendipitous that I was born in Bristol and would go on to sign Vancouver’s first dubstep record. Perhaps it’s something in the water
I moved to Japan for a year in 1996. Being able to walk into one of two Tower Records outlets in Sapporo and get my hands on freshly released Metalheadz, MoWax, Warp and Moving Shadow records. The dudes behind the counter were stoked about anything and everything that moved them. They dug hard in the crates for everything and it rubbed off on me.
I don’t feel the need to be shackled by purism. I honour craft and history but also have no desire to be anything but myself
Speaking of genre journeys, the mix you have for us is quite a trip. Take us through it.
1. Neil Young - Do You Know How To Use This Weapon?
“That weapon will replace your tongue. You will learn to speak through it, and your poetry will now be written with blood.”
Art is a statement of intent, time to say hello. Go watch Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man” and maybe read some William Blake.
2. Dead Voices On Air - Fohn/Baro
I wouldn’t be making ambient were it not for Dead Voices On Air.
3. Claire M Singer - Eilean
You can trust in Touch Records to pull out new noises and their recent releases, including Claire’s record are truly intoxicating.
4. Benoit Pioulard - Stone In Focus
The troubador of the Casacadian drone movement covers Aphex Twin and does it justice.
5. The Beacon Sound Choir - Drone 1
Recorded at Beacon Sound, a record shop and label in Portland, this is a 30 person choir teaching you about Harmonics.
6. Hakobune - Apsidal Motion
Hakobune is to Japan as Stars Of The Lid are to North America.
7. Radiohead - True Love Waits
What a glorious feeling it is, to craft a weird ass love song.
8. Johan Johannsson - End Of Summer Part 1
Lots of folks will know Johan for his soundtrack work but this glorious slab of vibrant drone includes Robert Aiki Lowe and Hildur Gudnadottir’s glorious voices.
9. Nils Frahm - Familiar
The thing I love about this is how playfully messy it is. Having heard Nils play this live numerous times as a stately and simple piano piece, it’s lovely to hear him get a little dirty.
10. Kenneth James Gibson - To See You Drift
What do you know about the pedal steel guitar?
11. Kristoffer Lo - Front Row Gallows View
Tuba and flugabone drones recorded in a lighthouse out at sea during a storm by a popular Norwegian indie musician. Just think about that.
12. Boris - Farewell
Boris are Japan’s greatest modern metal band. This was taken from a selection of drumless covers of their classics. Ambient shoegaze at its finest
13. Huerco S- A Sea Of Love
Outsider house gone Orb.
14. Slowdive - In Mind (Reload Remix)
Global Communications in their secret IDM ninja identity remixing the second coming of shoegaze. There’s nothing more epic and reaches cosmic drum and bass heights only touched by Bukem at his best.
15. Bethan Kellough - Low
Another brilliant recent release on Touch.
16. Julianna Barwick - Nebula
Julianna’s early releases were just her, a mic and some effects pedals. This is that and so much more. Truly cosmic in all the right ways.
17. David Bowie - Warszawa
Bowie’s Berlin instrumentals are not to be taken lightly.
18. Deru - Midnight In The Garden with Ghosts (Remix)
L.A’s finest. Like Telefon Tel Aviv, one of those guys that has transcended to somewhere completely unique from where they started.
19. Ken Ishii - Extra (The 7th Plain Remix)
Ken Ishii’s finest moments came while I was in Japan, Extra being the best thing he ever did. This is Luke Slater’s near ambient take, released years after the fact and being far more futuristic than a lot of stuff out there now.
20. Richard Skelton - Limnology
There’s no more elemental music being made today than by Richard Skelton. Music truly of the earth.
21. Scanner - Flaneur Electronique
To steal from Walter Benjamin, in French literature, the flaneur was “the modern artist-poet, a figure keenly aware of the bustle of modern life, an amateur detective and investigator of the city.”
22. Chihei Hatakeyama - Grace
The other end of the Japanese drone bookends with Hakobune. Effortlessly prolific and truly unfuckwitable.
23. Norman Westerberg - MRI/ Nissenmondai - #6/ William S. Burroughs - Bradley The Buyer
I’m including all three of these together because for me, I cannot tell where time begins and time ends i this portion of the mix. Norman Westerberg is best known for playing bass in the band Swans. This is not Swans music, instead, an exploration of guitar tones. Nissenmondai are a Tokyo post-punk trio that could pass for minimal techno, produced here by the god of dub, Adrian Sherwood.
24. WSB is WSB.
25. Xiu Xiu - Love Theme Farewell
And here we begin to say goodbye. Xiu Xiu’s take on a Twin Peaks classic may offend traditionalists but there’s nothing wrong with that.
26. Saint Etienne - Your Head, My Voice (Aphex Twin Remix)
A slight return into light as we visit the motorway between Cornwall and London.
27. Anthony Child and Anthony Read - Guitar Treatment #7
Tony Child is more well known to folks as Birmingham techno icon, Surgeon. More emotional than the Cure at their mopiest. Is it processed guitar? Is it synths? Does it matter?
28. Neil Young - Time For You To Go Now, William Blake
Time for you to go now, dear listener.
ok last question… do ya like cake?!??!
Shout outs to mom’s homemade ice cream cake, every time.
Thanks ADSR, keep up the excellent work.