Dubspot Radio Podcast: Reverse Commuter (Kenneth James Gibson) – Exclusive Mix and Interview

For this week’s Dubspot Radio Podcast, the multi-talented Los Angeles-based electronic music producer Kenneth James Gibson delivers an exclusive mix under the alias Reverse Commuter. 

Reverse_Commuter_BlogPhoto: Kelly Johnston-Gibson

Kenneth James Gibson performs and releases brilliant techno and superb dub under many different aliases, including [a]pendics.shuffle, Eight Frozen Modules, and many others. Most recently, he has undertaken the guise of Reverse Commuter, one of his longer-running electronic music projects for over two decades. On the heels of the long-awaited debut album “Exposure” on DJ Three’s Hallucienda imprint, KJG offers a solid DJ mix and joins us for an interview. KJG talks about his early influences, including breakdancing, Kraftwerk, and early Ice T. He gives us the lowdown on how he has kept his production setup simple and stripped down over the years, as well as the process of writing and recording the new Reverse Commuter album “Exposure.” Wrapping up the interview, he shares advice to up-and-coming DJs and producers.

“Don’t follow trends. No matter what you do, do your own thing!”

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Tell us about some of your early influences? Did you grow up in a musical household?

I grew up with my dad having a classical acoustic guitar, so I guess you could say that’s where it all started. He was actually really good. I don’t think he’s played in years though. I got an electric guitar after that, and so on and so on. Many different types of music have influenced me, and each one has influenced some aspect of what I do. I was a breakdancer when I was a kid, so stuff like Kraftwerk, Newcleus, early Ice T (Reckless, Body Rock etc), Midnight Star, Grandmaster Flash, and various breakdancing compilations like Beat Street Soundtrack were blasting out of my “Jam Box”. Later I got into punk and more hip-hop from The Ramones and The Butthole Surfers to Run-DMC and Public Enemy. Later on that turned into My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Jr., The Orb and Aphex Twin, etc. Then going way back and being heavily influenced by loads of dub, ‘60s psychedelic, krautrock, jazz, experimental stuff, as well as being way into old Country music. Dub has really been a huge influence… especially King Tubby and Mad Professor. Since the first time I heard King Tubby’s “A Rougher Version,” it’s influenced almost everything I have done even if it’s in a very unnoticeable small way and doesn’t sound the least bit dubby. The Beach Boys have been a constant influence for me as well through the years. Listening to them essentially taught me how to sing and stack vocals. I still, and will forever be fascinated by the band White Noise. Their first album “Electric Storm In Hell” blew my mind and still does. That album is still light years away. I always state The Orb as an early dance music influence, which still sticks by me today even though their more experimental albums such as “Orbus Terrarum” and “Pomme Fritz” are my favorites. Meat Beat Manifesto was an early dance music influence too, which is how I ended up working with Jack Dangers later on. Labels like Force Inc, Perlon, Cytrax were hugely influential on me and my label Adjunct Audio. I could go on and on but I’ll go ahead and cut it here.

When did you start to write and compose songs?

I started when I was 16 or 17 I guess. I had a band in high school that played some gigs. I think we recorded one demo at a friend’s house. For a while I had two answering machines and one shitty tape deck system. I would record little lo-fi tunes… man that was so fun! I started recording on a 4-track around 1992… then a sampler, then 8 track, then on to a computer and so on.

What tools do you use to produce? How has your production setup evolved over the last two decades?

My set up is really stripped down and quite simple. My main production DAW of choice is Cubase. I have an ASR-10, which is pretty much just a glorified MIDI controller these days, along with other various controllers. I use tons of software synths and plug-ins. I have a Rhodes Mark I, acoustic and electric guitars, percussion stuff, etc. I have a Yamaha vintage TX81Z FM synth that I haven’t fired up in a while, but have been meaning to. My set up really hasn’t changed that much in the last many years.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating? Please tell us about the artists/producers you worked with on the new record.

I like both. In the last few years I have done a ton of collaborating. The last few major ones were with Blakkat on our track “Heavy Burdens High”, Mr. C on “Something Strange”, and Dilo on our “Wonderfully Drifting EP.” There’s definitely a special magic that comes from working with other humans I think, especially when you get on the same wavelength. On the new Reverse Commuter album the two main collaborators were my wife Kelly Johnston-Gibson and Douglas J McCarthy (Nitzer Ebb / Recoil). They both contributed awesome vocals to the album and really helped make it what it is.

Tell us about the new Reverse Commuter album.

The new album is titled “Exposure,” and was an ongoing effort for quite a few years. The album and myself went through many changes right along with all the changes that DJ Three’s Hallucination Ltd. was going through. When the label relaunched as Hallucienda last year, the final version of the album was complete. I consider Reverse Commuter my most lush and organic electronic music project. I will be doing a lot more under this alias from here on. I have been and will be incorporating a lot more non-electronic elements into the mix, diving further into organic meets electronic.

Advice to up-and-coming DJs and producers?

Well, I always do the wrong thing and tend not to follow the rules… so I may not be the best person to give advice to up-and-comers. I guess I would say, spend a lot of time experimenting. Don’t try to emulate what the popular producers are already doing and don’t follow trends. No matter what you do, do your own thing! Expand your musical horizons and let yourself be influenced by all kinds of music, not just dance music, and not just what your favorite DJs are spinning. As generic as this may sound, just make music from the heart and you will continue to be happy whether other people or labels get what you’re doing. That’s just my two cents.

What do you have coming up next? Any releases or shows coming up?

My very next release is dubLoner featuring Isaac Haile Selassie and Fenin titled “Chairr Newena.” That will be out early March on my label Adjunct Audio. My next gig is an Adjunct Vs. Shaboom (Mark Bell / Blakkat’s label) label party, Jan. 9th in LA at Sound with Mikael Stavostrand, Blakkat, Bystander, and myself.


Tracklist:
1. Sebastian Russell – Absent Mindedness (Reverse Commuter’s Present Thunder MIx) – Multi Vitamins
2. Doubting Thomas – Karl Kruger – Adjunct
3. Ernesto Ferreyra – Forever Loop – Cadenza
4. Reverse Commuter – Icarus Feat. Kelly Johnston – Hallucienda
5. Benno Blome – Pho Bo Soul – Sender Records
6. Archangel – To Be Seen – Foom
7. Vitreous Men – Let This Moment Pass – Zoombezoom
8. Schlepp Geist – Keep It On The Streets – Voltage Musique Records
9. Noah Pred & Tim Xavier For The Love Of XXX (Butane remix) – Alphahouse
10. Soukie & Windish – Flavour Of The Month (Kotelett & Zadak Remix) – URSL
11. Signal Deluxe – Zero Seven (Reverse Commuter’s Not Left Undone Remix) – Thoughtless

Reverse-Commuter_Exposure1_credit-Kelly-Johnston-Gibson

Keep up with KJG’s Reverse Commuter on Soundcloud and Facebook.

If there are two sides to every coin then Kenneth James Gibson is working with more than just pocket change. The prolific Los Angeles-based producer and video artist is driven by a constant and insatiable hunger to create. He masterfully constructs a dizzying variety of music – from house and techno to dub and indie rock, including different blends between the styles – in a catalog of over two hundred releases. [a]pendics.shuffle, a mostly techno and minimal production alias, has been Gibson’s mainstay for quite some time, with Reverse Commuter recently joining this as his ambitious, song-oriented electronic music project. He also creates sounds under a list of other monikers that reads as a proper mouthful: dubLoner, KJ Gibbs, Bal Cath, Eight Frozen Modules, Premature Wig, and Hiss & Buzz (a collaboration with Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto). That’s not all, though; Gibson also has his indie rock band Bell Gardens, an acclaimed label named Adjunct Audio, and various video projects, often created as Captain Primo.

As [a]pendics.shuffle, Gibson has releases and remixes on labels such as Get Physical, Leftroom, Planet-Mu, and Hallucination Limited. His own label,Adjunct Audio, has also been home to some of his more memorable releases. It serves as his platform for promoting cutting edge dance music from artists like Akiko Kiyama, Mikael Stravostrand, Mr. C, and Mathias Schaffhäuser, with many more releases lined up for the label’s future. Adjunct Audio recently released an acclaimed compilation titled For Every Moment of Triumph Vol. 4, which was mixed by legendary Shaboom founder Blakkat. The compilation is a benchmark for Adjunct Audio, as it’s the imprint’s impressive 67th release, and showcases the present roster as well as some newcomers to the label.

Reverse Commuter is also an important part of Gibson’s creative life, as the project includes a more personal approach as well as collaborations with other artists. Reverse Commuter’s debut album Exposure – released on DJ Three’s new imprint Hallucienda – combines the sonic range of Gibson’s previous efforts but with a strongly developed color and warmth. The foundation of Exposure’s nine songs comes from a cinematic, post-minimal strain of house and techno but embellished and taken into a fresh territory. The album’s production palette features washes of synthesizer, guitar, and found sounds, all drenched in psychedelia and parlayed with Gibson’s own engaging vocals and those of collaborators Kelly Johnston and Douglas J. McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb. Exposure is an album clearly in its own time and space.

Read more here


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