All Hail! ... The Man Who Invented Big Beat: DEPTH CHARGE
Piers Martin, NME, 13 November 1999
Ten-Gallon Facts (Yes, It's The Big Ones!)
1 Depth Charge invented big beat
In 1989, Depth Charge - aka 32-year old west Londoner J Saul Kane - released a single, 'Bounty Killer', which featured pretty hefty breakbeats and samples of dialogue from ancient Westerns. Back then, it sounded like nothing else. Now, everyone tries to mimic his method.
"I'm not sure it's something to be 100 per cent proud of," Jonathon says. "I think of it as modern funk, but I don't think it's done well enough these days. There's something wrong with the way people make music. It's all very 'here today, gone tomorrow'."
2 He's releasing two albums in one month
Almost like buses, you wait for the follow-up to his pioneering 1994 'Nine Deadly Venoms' debut, and now two come along at once. The thing is, both 'Lust' and 'Lust 2' are excellent. Some might call it commercial suicide, though.
"I don't like conforming to expectations," humphs Kane, "and Depth Charge has always been about that. It's an anti-music kind of music. People have these rules... I put two albums out just to annoy people. We're talking about it - that's the aim achieved."
3 He could have been very famous
Despite releasing consistently astonishing and critically acclaimed records throughout the 90s (see 'Blue Lipps', 'Disko Vixens', 'Disko Airlines'), Depth Charge has quite brilliantly failed to capitalise on his success.
"Yeah, I could have exploited my formulaic disaster-ridden terminologies," he sneers. "You can exploit your own self, so I try to veer away from commercialising something. I'm not part of the selling-out, pally back-slapping squad. I'm more the weirdo who sits at home."
4 Depth Charge is based around cinema
A lot of Depth Charge records are peppered with snippets from martial arts movies and Westerns. We might hear scuffed disco classics, messy breakbeats and abstract soundtrackery crafted using Kane's idiosyncratic and much-plagiarised production skills, but the actual concept of 'Lust' is about film advertising.
"It's about what makes you go to see a film, about what the director would think of to make people go out and spend their money, like car chases and girls. The concept doesn't work 100 per cent, but what does?"
5 He knows his film onions
Not only does he run a label, DC Recordings, but Jonathon also works for a film distribution company called Made In Hong Kong which, of course, releases martial arts movies.
"I love the fantasy, the way the Hong Kong directors think," he enthuses. "One film will have millions of ideas in it."
He used to practise martial arts until he damaged his knees. Now he watches the flicks for pleasure: "I find them soothing."
6 Depth Charge wasn't meant to happen this way
He also records as Octagon Man (filthy electro-scoured madness) and Alexander's Dark Band (a cut'n'paste hip-hop project).
"I did the first Depth Charge single and the next day I did the first Octagon Man single. Octagon Man was meant to be the main thing but Depth Charge took off and still gets the press."
7 Occasionally he makes football records
Inspired by the glamouur of the football World Cup, Depth Charge released the singles 'Goal' in 1990 and 'Romario' in 1998. Tragically, Brazilian star striker Romario didn't play in the last tournament. Don't expect a Euro 2000 anthem, though - that event just isn't sexy.
"I don't support anyone here. I just like the styles of players and teams. The Last World Cup was such an anticlimax, especially compared with the South American Copa America. The Colombian team is just mad. The way they play is totally insane. You don't get that here."
8 He does things differently
"When I can see the end of something, I never want to go there," he admits. "I become very good at something and then I'll give up because I know what's coming next. That's the problem. I just do the things I enjoy and if I know where it's going, I'm not gonna enjoy it, so I don't go there."
"I'm a martyr, but I'd rather be martyr than a hero."
9 He has to play in his own private hell
Some people would love to be popular all over the world - including in Germany. Not so J Saul Kane.
"I hate Germany. I'm doing a tour there at the moment and it's just confirmed all my worst beliefs. Germans, man, that's what's wrong with it! Look, I don't want to say anything too strong about it."
He's said enough, surely.
10 Unlike his music, he's completely normal. Well, almost
"I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't eat meat and I don't take drugs. I never have, never been into it," he says.
"People are really surprised. They hear my records and can't believe it sometimes. But the way I see it, music's like reading: if you get an image of what I'm making the record about, then that works. That's what I set out to do."
Copyright 1999 NME. Reprinted with permission.
The Exciting World Of J Saul Kane