While growing up in the ’70s in Glasgow, Steve Goodman (pictured) spent countless hours listening to his father’s jazz tapes. Since it was also the decade of synth pop in the UK, the young boy learned to play a few instruments, but failed miserably. Fortunately, this did not deter him from pursuing a career in music, and the London-based producer, famously known as Kode9, grew up to become one of the pioneers of dubstep. “I wouldn’t have made music at all had it not been for computers,” he says, over phone, from a hotel in Delhi.
Goodman is in the country for his debut gig at Summerhouse Cafe in the Capital tonight. In the afternoon, he will address a mixed bunch of musicians, journalists and producers at antiSOCIAL as part of Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA).
It’s Goodman’s keen interest in philosophy and computers that made him adopt Kode9 as his artiste name. “The letter ‘k’ and the number ‘9’ kept appearing in a lot of places. Also, I was studying mathematics and the word ‘code’ was also often used. So one day, I just became Kode9,” says Goodman, who travels to Mumbai for another RBMA session on Thursday.
Goodman’s musical journey aptly defines the term “evolution’. It was in 1991 that he first began DJing; his sets were a mix of jazz, soul, reggae and hip hop. But it was in 1993 that he stumbled upon old-school jungle, and changed the course of his music. “For the next five years, I played jungle, then moved to London in 1999 and began experimenting with UK garage; shifted gears to dubstep and grime. And by 2010, I was bored of all the British music and went back to hip hop,” he says. Goodman has to his credit two albums Memories of the Future and Black Sun, and is working on another one. “It will release later this year,” he says.
Apart from being a DJ and a producer, Goodman is an author (Sonic Warfare: Sound; Affect and Ecology of Fear), a teacher and a former music journalist as well. Juggling these several roles finally weighed him down and he left his teaching job at the University of East London last year. His record label Hyperdub happened by accident. He says, “In 2000, I started a webzine, Hyperdub, so I could interview people and write about London’s music scene. Three years later, I was bored, and upon a friend’s insistence, I turned it into a label. It was a purely selfish move,” he says.
Few know that Goodman also holds a PhD in philosophy, and it’s this that keeps him sane in such a demanding industry. “I can argue myself out of any thing; it helps me put things in perspective. It keeps me at an arm’s length, away from the madness of the music industry,” he says.