If you want to understand King Midas Sound, there’s two things you need to know. First there’s the ancient legend about the king who got the ability to turn everything he touched into gold. Second, there’s Kevin Martin, London-based musician and mastermind behind projects like The Bug, Techno Animal, and Pressure. While finding out about Greek mythology is a walk in the park (hello, Wikipedia) getting to know the man behind KMS isn’t so easy. Natalie Brunner met him at Outlook Festival.
When you started going out, what was the vibe that drew you into this kind of nocturnal world?
Drugs, drink and antisocial music basically.
What kind of antisocial music?
For me it was pretty much post-punk music. People like The Birthday Party, Joy Division, Public Image Limited, Killing Joke, Throbbing Gristle, Crass. Just a lot of music which was out to break formulas and break people’s minds a little bit as well. It’s confrontational music.
Can you remember the exact moment in your youth where you thought: Okay, music is my means of expression, music is the field I wanna work in?
You know, I thought about this a lot and I’ve been asked this a few times as well as time goes on. It’s a really strange, instinctive choice, I think. For starters, my father and my grandfather were both musicians, so I think to some degree music is in my blood. My mother was obsessed by music, she even had music piped into her kitchen as she got speakers rigged up in there and she was playing the most obnoxious heavy metal all the time. So music has been a constant in my life.
Punk music spoke to me because I grew up in a fuckin’ shit family situation. My father beat my mother and myself up on a regular basis. The more I listened to angry music the more it meant to me at that point because I was pretty angry at the time and I didn’t know how to channel that frustration. The more I listened to bands like Crass and Discharge the more I thought: You know what, this is speaking to me in some way. It gave me hope and it gave some way to try to understand this fucked-up world. For a time I thought it was a very good way of translating this world until you realise that actually this world is just total chaos. The more you try to understand the less you know.
It’s weird that the music you just mentioned has on the one hand the quality to release anger and is so-called antisocial music, while on the other hand it brings people together.
This sounds like some dreary hippie theory, but music really serves a primeval function. Music has had an essential importance to people as a ritualistic gathering and a way of attaining alternate forms of consciousness – with or without drugs. I think it has been there since the beginning, probably from cavemen, probably from before language. So it’s not so unusual that it brings people together. For me, music and base synchronize with my heartbeat, it’s a transmission of electricity and energy. Music is the only thing I have faith in in this world, this life.