Interview: Japanese Noise Artist KK Null

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KK Null

KK Null is one of the most prominent names in the Japanese noise scene.  He really needs no introduction.  However, for the sake of a few of you who might merely be curious about Japanese noise/power electronics in general, you simply can’t grasp the movement as a whole without listening to KK’s work.  After hearing a live track from one of his recent releases on 4ib Records, a track called “Tokyo Ground Zero,” I was inspired to ask him to do this interview.  It is simply one of the most chaotic, dynamic noise pieces I have ever heard.

But perhaps more importantly than his work, KK is a humble guy.  He was kind enough to take some time for us to answer some questions.  We thank him very much for that.

Can you look back over your career since 1983 and talk about the changes of equipment that you’ve used to create noise with?

1983 – 2000 : electric guitar & effect pedals (fuzz, overdrive, analog delay, flanger, pitch sifter, etc) with TEAC 4 track cassette tape recorder.

2000 – 2009 : synthesizers, drum machines, kaoss pads, etc with KORG hard-disc recorder.

2009 – present : computer & softwares, plug-inns, etc with LOGIC PRO.

Which of your releases do you think reached or passed the results you hoped for?  What I mean is… what do you feel your most important recordings are from your perspective?

Not yet at all. But if I can be a bit easy on myself I would say “Edging” (soundtracks for dance theatre) and “Cryptozoon X” (quadraphonic mix for GRM). Of course, these works are yet far from perfection and  I’m not 100% satisfied though…..

Your name and Merzbow are two of the most popular in the Japan noise scene.  Who are some other underground artists that we should be paying attention to that we may not have heard?

I don’t go out and check out what’s going on, so have no idea.

One of your more recent albums was called “Distorted Buddha Screaming at the Heart of Nothingness.”  What’s the idea behind that title?

I came up with this title when I saw one of the pictures from my live performance in Taipei, it captured the moment I was screaming with contact-microphone and my face was twisted & distorted. So, it’s me “Distorted Buddha”!! While I’m playing music live, this may sound weird and you don’t understand though, sometimes I feel I’m not there, I’m free from my body & gravity, released from my ego, turn into particles or nothing, that’s why “Heart of Nothingness”.

Speaking of Buddhism, does spirituality play any part in your inspiration to create the work you do and if so, how does it?

I don’t see any spirituality in any religious context. Science does make more sense to me and get me excited and inspired. I like reading books of astrophysics, cosmology, quantum mechanics, etc and also some fine Si-Fi fictions, they are limitless inspiration to create my work.

Have you ever had any problems with authorities/police in countries that you have played?  What I mean is… considering your live performance, has anyone ever thought them to be controversial?

I’ve had no problems with authorities/police, sometimes neighborhood around the club/venue complain about the noise but it’s not just my fault alone. In the early 80’s once the club owner in Tokyo cut the power down while I was playing and same kind of interruption happened a couple of times in the USA, just because it was too loud & noisy to someone. I don’t think they’re intellectual enough even to see if it’s controversial or not.

Someone described your shows like “a man possessed.”  What do you say to that in how you’ve performed live?

I’ve never heard of that though, I would call it a state of “Machine in the Ghost”.

You have performed in different countries.  What are some of the most extreme reactions you have seen from audiences?

As far as I remember, there’s nothing special to tell you.

What artistic ground do you want to conquer that you have not yet reached?

It’s very difficult question to answer……..I mean, to explain you in English which is not my mother-tongue.  I will send you this answer later, OK?

It’s been said that Masami Akita has done concerts where he’s destroyed club speakers because of the sound.  Has this ever occurred at a KK Null show?

No. Because I’m careful & considerate. My main focus is to create best sound and convey it to the audience at high quality as much as possible, not to destroy speakers.

Track 2 – the live track from Extropy Ground Zero called “Tokyo Ground Zero” is one of the most chaotic, insane and complex sounding pieces of experimental noise I’ve ever heard.  Can you talk about the preparation and performance? or what you did to create that result?

For live performance I usually compose some pieces and assemble, mix them on my computer in advance,  then play it live and at the same time add some synths, kaoss pads, voice, improvise with all of them on stage.

What’s next for KK Null in the rest of 2017 and 2018?  tour plans, releases/collaborations etc?

Several collaborations are still in progress such as with Mark Stewart (THE POP GROUP), Erald Bernocchi, Philip Brophy, Deison Cristiano, Alexei Borisov, etc.  Just released a new album “Ghostscapes” on Bandcamp  It’s my first “ambient” works, so maybe you don’t like it. and, “Ruin Porn” on Bandcamp  Also some physical releases will come out.                                                                                                                                              “Machine in the Ghost X” 12 inch vinyl EP (3 tracks, 45rpm) on Jezro in Serbia,

“Great Attractor” cassette tape on Blossoming Noise in the US, will be out early 2018.

Situation:  Many many years in the future, a relative locates a box in the attic of an old house.  The box is labeled “KK Null” and contains various CDs with your work.  What do you want them to know about you and your legacy, even just by listening to these Cds?

They don’t need to know about me, I am just nobody. If they listen to the music I created,

I hope they appreciate it, enjoy it as much as they can, and that’s all fine.

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