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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Robin KG on The Art of Electronic Music
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Every electronic music artist wants to hear their work pulsating from the professional sound systems of night clubs while packed houses dance until beads of sweat form on their foreheads and slowly trickle down their faces.

Robin KG, who is the founder of the electronic music label Kraftjerkz, and an electronic music artist himself, thinks that while the club is a great place, there’s a better test of one’s production skills.

According to the Connecticut native whose label is based out of NYC, “Laptop speakers, even though they’re horrible, and they’re not for audiophiles, they do separate the men from the boys.” His reasoning behind this ideology boils down to production value. “If you can have something that has a large dynamic on little speakers, and it has nice depth, that’s really the telltale thing whether something is, in my opinion, well produced, or poorly produced.”

For Robin’s own production work his computer is used as a testing ground, but not an instrument. The man who goes by Kid Ginseng when he DJs, and Robin des iles when he performs live techno, solely uses 1980s synthesizers and drum machines to create his music. He explains, “If you have enough head room when you produce the stuff, and you mix and master it, it’s much more simple to get a good deep sound with hardware than trying to fuss over it in software to get a virtually deep sound.”

Robin’s sound is something he’s been perfecting for well over a decade. In 2002/2003 he was in talks with a label, but things never came to fruition. In 2006, however, he released a project via a label in Holland, and it inspired a new desire. “After that I wanted to hear how my music sounded on vinyl.” Shortly thereafter, Kraftjerkz was born. Robin quickly found distribution for the label, and now not only is he releasing his own music, but the Kraftjerkz roster also includes Neud Photo, Luke Eargoggle, Entro Senestre, MANASYt, Mike Dextro, DJ Quest, DJ 2 Fresh, and Yellow Beach Balls.

Everyone on Kraftjerkz is an electronic music artist, but that doesn’t mean they all embrace the use of the popular acronym EDM. While Robin would never say he’s offended by the term, he sees it as unnecessary, and creating an unfortunate umbrella-like classification that encompasses all the genres of electronic dance music. “You have the classic genres,” he explains, “you have the Italo-disco, house, techno, electro, which to me means electro funk, which is the American wave of electro boogie music starting with Planet Rock and Cybotron, jungle, drum and bass, garage, you have these genres, beautiful genres, and the people who pioneered them are really interesting people, and it’s a beautiful thing to really break something down and call it what it is, and not make up a new name to blanket all of it.”

Robin’s appreciation for each genre comes from his encyclopedic knowledge of electronic music. “After electronic music had stopped being in sci-films it was only being released in Germany from the 1950s to the early 70s,” he explains. “Of course, all that was considered avant guard, it wasn’t dance music, but by 1977 Moroder had completely put electronic and dance music together in the same track with ‘I Feel Love’ by Donna Summer, so as early at the mid 70s you had danceable tracks, disco tracks, with electronic gear producing the whole thing.” The 80s, Robin points out, saw the price of production equipment drop, and creativity spread. “In the early 80s you have affordable drum machines for people in Chicago, and people in Detroit, (so) they made their own shit, and that’s house and techno.” The next major innovation in sound was emergence of jungle in the early to mid 90s, which Robin notes, “was really pioneering with sampling.”

Once the mid 90s hit, record stores took notice of electronic music. Robin remembers, “In the mid 90s they came out with a record bin section in the mainstream shops called Electronica with bestsellers by Moby, and some of the British acts, and drum and bass.”

Although it may sound cliche, there’s a bit of a destiny element to the career of Robin KG. His parents are drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth, both of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club fame, and according to Robin, “My mother was playing live music with me in utero... I was getting the vibrations of this instrument into my small body, my child body, as it matured before being born.”

In a poetic turn of events, Robin, having quite literally felt Tom Tom Club’s music since he was an embryo, ended up becoming a touring member of the band, manning the turntables for them. As Tom Tom Club’s DJ, Robin’s traveled to Japan, and Spain, with the band, and he’s currently on the road with them in the UK.

As a solo artist Robin’s fondest tour memory involves playing in front of a massive crowd in The Hague, Netherlands. The size of the crowd, however, isn’t the most important thing to Robin, as he says, “I’m open to making people dance in almost any venue.”

Through his label, Kraftjerkz, he, and all of the artists he works with, have been doing just that for years, and with Robin currently booking gigs for the rest of summer, and the fall, the party isn’t stopping anytime soon.


Interview originally ran on Arena.com.

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