Kevin Martin is a London-based English musician, record producer and journalist, often known under his recording alias The Bug. He moved to London around 1990, and he has been active for over two decades, in the genres of dub, jazzcore, industrial hip hop, dancehall, and dubstep.
His projects include GOD, Techno Animal, Ice, Curse of the Golden Vampire, Pressure, and most recently, King Midas Sound. He has collaborated with such figures as Daddy Freddy, John Zorn,Justin Broadrick, Experimental Audio Research,El-P, Blixa Bargeld, Alec Empire, Dälek, Vast Aire, Warrior Queen, Anti-Pop Consortium, DJ Vadim, Cutty Ranks, Flow Dan, Mark Stewart and Keith Levene.
Martin first became interested in music as a teenager going to Handsome Dick's, a record store in Weymouth, England, UK. At the same time, he was introduced to Joy Division, the Sex Pistols, Captain Beefheart, the Birthday Party, and Throbbing Gristle. He has described his initial interest in music as stemming from his difficult family situation during his childhood, and said, "It seemed like everything that I hated about English conservative monoculture was being burned and turned upside down through music," and, "Post-punk music was tearing up rule books and asking questions of everything, particularly structure in terms of music, art, politics, you know, the law."
Martin first began making music because he was attracted to a do-it-yourself (DIY) aesthetic. He first worked with a four-track recorder and effects pedal, and said, "I was interested in everything that wasn't harmony, melody, and conservative musical structure. Dub seemed to tear everything to shreds, burn it up, and rearrange the embers." (referring to dub music). He described his early experiences of music in London as being very influential for his style and appreciation of music, especially experiencing Iration Steppas and The Disciples in the early 1990s. He described his experience in the London music scene as taking a while to sync his ears up to ragga and digital dancehall, two genres of music for which he has become well known.
GOD was a jazzcore group that was part of the grindcore and industrial metal scenes. Justin Broadrick, formerly of Napalm Death and later of Godflesh, eventually joined. This was the first of Martin's collaborations with Broadrick, Techno Animal and Ice being subsequent. John Zorn also worked with this group.
An industrial hip-hop and ambient-music collaboration with Justin Broadrick that also collaborated with Dälek, Vast Aire, and Anti-Pop Consortium. John Jobbagy also participated in the group.
Ice included Martin on vocals, saxophone, synthesizer, and turntables; Justin Broadrick on guitar; David Cochrane on bass; and Lou Ciccotelli on drums. Its first album, Under the Skin, was somewhat similar to the industrial metal of Broadrick's Godflesh, but with a more experimentalist bent, notably via Martin's free jazz-influenced saxophone. By Bad Blood (In Bloom/Reprise/Warner Bros. Records), its second album, the band had absorbed a great deal of hip-hop influence, and nearly all the songs featured contributions from guests well known in underground hip hop, including El-P. However, the experimentalism continued, with singer Blixa Bargeld of legendary industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten appearing as well, often alongside the emcees. According to critic Ned Raggett, the experiments are not always successful, but he credits the band for expanding its sound.
Curse of the Golden Vampire:
Originally a collaboration between Techno Animal and Alec Empire in an industrial hip-hop vein. The second album, Mass Destruction, featured only Martin and Broadrick and moved into a more vicious breakcore and digital hardcore style with elements of grindcore, industrial hip-hop, and noise/power electronics.
The Bug's music draws influence from dancehall, noise, grime, and hip hop. More subtle influences include dubstep and the dubtronica and broken techno of Basic Channel and Pole.
The Bug's first album, Tapping The Conversation, was released in 1997 on the seminal Wordsound label. The album was conceived as an alternative soundtrack to the 1974 Francis Ford Coppola film The Conversation. In this incarnation, The Bug consisted of Kevin Martin and DJ Vadim, and existed in more of a downtempo and trip hop vein.
From 2001-2004 The Bug collaborated with UK reggae soundsystem veteran The Rootsman on a number of limited edition 7" singles, released on the Razor X label. These releases were characterised by their harsh, aggressive nature both musically and vocally (vocal artists including Jamaican MCs such as He-Man and Wayne Lonesome).
The Bug's second album, Pressure was released on Rephlex Records in 2003. It included a number of more ambient, dub-influenced tracks alongside the ragga-tinged onslaughts.
The Razor X singles were compiled on the Killing Sound album (along with newer material) which was released by Rephlex in 2006.
Bug projects have included collaborations with a number of singers and MCs including Cutty Ranks, Flow Dan, Warrior Queen and Ras B. In 2005 he collaborated with Mark Stewart and Keith Levene and has released records on Rephlex, Tigerbeat6 and Klien Records. The Bug produced some radio sessions, including a clash with Soundmurderer on John Peel and a 2006 Breezeblock session with 10 MCs.
In 2006, The Bug launched a monthly London-based reggae club night entitled BASH, in collaboration with dubstep producer Loefah. 2008 saw the release of London Zoo, the third full release from the project, on Ninja Tune to critical acclaim.
A dub project, with releases on the Hyperdub label.
Reggae-dub/ trip hop collaboration with Kiki Hitomi, now, under the Jahtari record label (previous releases with Hyperdub). Black Chow incorporates Lo-Fi elements into their music, which is typical of artists on the Jahtari record label.
King Midas Sound:
King Midas Sound is a musical crossover project, composed of Martin, London/Trinidad poet Roger Robinson and Japanese artist and singer Kiki Hitomi. Their first 12" release "(HDB014) Cool Out" and debut album Waiting For You... are both released through Kode9's Hyperdub label. "Meltdown" also featured on the 5 Years Of Hyperdub CD release in 2009. Their latest 12", "Aroo," was released on Ninja Tune in 2013.
He also compiled the Macro Dub Infection (parts one and two), Ambient 4: Isolationism and Jazz Satellites CDs for the Virgin Ambient series.
Kevin Martin has discussed his admiration for Jah Shaka, Adrian Sherwood, King Tubby, Lee Perry, Swans, Public Enemy, and Thomas Koner.
He has previously written for music magazines such as Muzik and Jockey Slut.
Further information: GOD
Possession (Caroline, 1992),
The Anatomy of Addiction (Big Cat, 1994),
Further information: Techno Animal
Ghosts (Pathological, 1991),
Re-Entry (Virgin, 1995),
Techno Animal Versus Reality (City Slang, 1998),
Symbiotics (with Porter Ricks) (Force Inc. Music Works, 1999),
The Brotherhood of the Bomb (Matador, 2001),
Under the Skin (Pathological, 1993),
Bad Blood (In Bloom/Reprise/Warner Bros. Records, 1998),
Singles & EPs
"Quarantine" (Carcrashh, 1995),
"Bad Blood Transfusion" (with Underdog) (Morpheus, 1998),
"Headwreck" (Morpheus, 1998),
"Trapped in Three Dimensions" (Morpheus, 1999),
Curse of the Golden Vampire:
Curse of the Golden Vampire, (Digital Hardcore Recordings, 1998),
Mass Destruction, (Ipecac, 2003),
Tapping The Conversation (WordSound, 1997),
Pressure (Rephlex Records, 2003),
London Zoo (Ninja Tune, 2008),
Angels & Devils (Ninja Tune, 2014),
"Low Rider" - 12" Single (Fat Cat, 1999),
"Seismic" - 12" Single (Morpheus, 2001),
"Beats, Bombs, Bass, Weapons" - 7" Single (Klein, 2003),
"Buckle Up" - 12" Single (Buckout, 2003),
"Gun Disease" - 12" Single (Rephlex Records, 2003),
"Aktion Pak" - 12" Single (Rephlex Records, 2004),
"Dem A Bomb We" - 12" Single (Soul Jazz Records, 2005),
"Fire" - 12" Single (Klein, 2005),
"Poison Dart" - 12" Single (Ninja Tune, 2007),
"Jah War" - 12" Single (Ninja Tune, 2007),
"Skeng" - 12" Single (Hyperdub, 2007),
"Ganja / Flying" - 12" Single (Ninja Tune, 2008),
"Infected" - 12" Single (Ninja Tune, 2010),
"Run" - 12" Single (Swamp81, 2010),
"Can't Take This No More/Rise Up" (Acid Ragga/Ninja Tune, 2012),
"Ganja Baby/Diss Mi Army" (Acid Ragga/Ninja Tune, 2012),
"Hardcore Lover/Goodbye" (Acid Ragga/Ninja Tune, 2013),
"Harrowdown Hill" - Originally by Thom Yorke,
"Satellite" - Originally by The Kills,
"Malarkey" - Originally by The Earlyman,
"Emergency Room" - Originally by Ford & Lopatin,
"Make Some Noise" - Originally by Beastie Boys,
"Black Stacey" - Originally by Saul Williams,
"Le Haine" - Originally by Asian Dub Foundation,
Hyperdub 5.1 - 12", EP (Hyperdub, August 2009),
Wonderland - Featuring Pupajim, 12", EP (Jahtari, 2011),
King Midas Sound:
Waiting For You... (Hyperdub, 2009),
Without You (Hyperdub, 2011),
Singles & EPs
"Cool Out" (Hyperdub, 2008),
"Dub Heavy - Hearts & Ghosts" (Hyperdub, 2009),
"Lost" (Hyperdub, 2010),
"Goodbye Girl" (Hyperdub, 2011)
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license