Elvis Costello was talking rubbish. Kode 9 is on the money.
D: A criticism of a an overly theoretical approach to music is that it puts the cart before the horse.
K: The problem isn’t the concepts. It’s to get away from the idea that the concepts are anathema to experiencing musical intensity. It’s to get away from the clichéd idea that the minute you start conceptualising about music you kill its vibe or energy. Instead of that it’s more that being immersed in music generates its own conceptual tools, immanently. If you immerse yourself in a kind of music, the music will suggest the kind of conceptual tools that are most appropriate for channelling the music into another medium, into discourse. So it’s not that musical intensity is on one plane and the minute you start talking about it it’s like a capture mechanism, it’s more like, what are the most efficient ways of transferring that intensity out of that music and into language. Or even better, intensifying the energy in the music and intensifying it through the way that that energy transfers into language. And that’s what I was getting from Mark and Kodwo. They wrote in such, not just a vivid way… it’s a sonic fiction thing, they were hearing things in the music that were not actually there, but were virtually there. And they were extrapolating them out of the music, hearing the potential sonic worlds that were in the music and then colouring in those sonic worlds, making them explicit … making explicit what’s taken for granted by taking certain combinations of sound and certain combinations of rhythms. And that’s very inspirational in terms of also being a producer because, like listening to good music, it’s just a constant source of ideas, of potential ways of treating sound and potential directions and possibilities. Just like a good music writer is very inspiring, I would have thought, well it is for me, in the same way that a musician might be inspired by a piece of fiction. The writer produces a discursive world that doesn’t have a sound to it, but suggests, implies that it must sound a certain way. And you wanna hear what that sounds like, so you try and make it.
This quote is taken from the excellent interview Kode did with the Wire magazine who very kindly published the entire q&a on their site this week. Read the rest (it’s 6 pages long) here.