At the beginning of the year, Kraddy, the Los Angeles based electronic music producer and DJ, sat down with Reality Sandwich to discuss music and life. He was on tour promoting his new EP, Labyrinth. We spoke about his new tracks, the symbol of the Labyrinth, and why he left The Glitch Mob to embark on a solo career. We also spoke about Mythologies, Burning Man, Synchronicities and Ayahuasca. He said he really liked our questions.
After the interview, down at the bar and lounge right before his set, curly haired, mild mannered Matthew Kratz wore a disguise of glasses and a plaid button-down shirt as he wove through the crowd of twenty-somethings. Minutes later, onstage, he ripped off the button-down, threw his hands in the air and yelled into the mic. The transformation was complete. Kraddy was a superhero womping bad DJs with his deadly banging beats, a protector of the sacred realm of sound.
Urban: How did you get your DJ name?
Kraddy: It’s from my last name. Kratz. A good high school friend gave it to me years ago before I was ever a DJ or producer and it stuck.
Id like to ask you about Glitch, a type of music that had its origins in Germany in 1990′s. You said that, “Glitch is taking what most people would consider an error or a mistake and working it into something great sounding. Like distortion is to an electric guitar, Glitch is to electronic production.” Do you remember when you first heard Glitch?
Tipper and Si Beggs releases on Fuel Records. I think the first track I heard was Si Beggs High Volume. Sickness.
Can you describe how you heard of them, why they influenced you, and what they were doing that was so different?
I was in SF in a record store that no longer exists. I told the guy behind the counter that I was looking for stuff that was tweaky and left field. He handed me Si Beggs High Volume and Tippers Tug Of War and knowing smiled I think youll like these. I dont think Ive ever had a bigger eargasm at a listening station in a record store than at that moment. Their music was so technically well executed and still booty and dancefloor. Most of the eclectic heady dance music at that point wasnt very dance floor friendly and most dance music wasnt very techy or heady. And the bass insane.
Why did you end up founding the Glitch Mob and what were you doing that grabbed so much attention?
The Glitch Mob began as a joke really. Just a funny play on real hip hop groups like Goodie Mob since we were a bunch of suburban kids on computers. It was just a way for us to get together and play music. I think people were most attracted to the fact that we had a lot of fun when we played live.
You’ve been called an icon of “Glitch Hop,” a futuristic fusion of Hip Hop, Dubstep and Electronica. Where did this music known as Glitch Hop come from?
I think I first heard Glitch Hop in reference to Pre-Fuse 73. It was a term I heard after I had already starting making that kind of music. I didnt go out and pursue it. I feel like genres are convenient labels but are very limiting. I never thought about the Glitch Hop scene. Things come and go. They are trends.
In 2008, your single Android Porn became a breakthrough hit with viral Youtube videos and critics labeled it the Glitch Hop Anthem. Did the success of Android Porn give you the confidence to leave Glitch Mob?
No, not really. It was a difference in creative vision.
Did this vision manifest in your Labyrinth EP & Tour?
Yeah, Definitely. The Labyrinth EP is the beginning, the first step of my new direction. I’ve been on tour and I’ve worked a little bit but I make music better at home. I’ll be using similar ideas and expanding on them.
In November of last year you released the LabyrinthEP and now The Labyrinthremix project, through Minotaur, your own imprint on Alpha Pup. Have you always been a fan of Greek mythology? What intrigued you about the symbol of the labyrinth and the minotaur?
The Labyrinth is a focusing symbol. It focuses your energy. Like a mandala. I’ve always been into mythology of different cultures. I love the story of Theseus and the Minotaur because it is an archetypal story. It is an archetype for the journey a person takes when they choose to enter the labyrinth of their mind, face their fears, and defeat them.
Are there other mythologies that intrigue you at the moment and have you delved into the Mayan Quetzalcoatl myth thats popular with the 2012 crowd?
Ive been interested in conspiracy theories recently — a different kind of mythology. I know a bit about the Quetzalcoatl myth.
Tell us what it was like playing at Burning Man?
I’ve been to Burning Man four or five times. I think it’s cool. Conceptually it’s a ten. I love it. In execution it’s a five. It falls short of its vision, in my opinion. But also, I’m not a big partier. A short visit is better for me. After a couple days it stops becoming energizing and it becomes draining. Last time I went was the best. My set at Root Society was total madness and probably one of the best shows I’ve ever played. I remember standing there and thinking this is why I do this.
Given the chaos of the event, do you think their values of radical self-expression and leave no trace have any tangible effects on the real world?
I don’t think the Leave No Trace could even be a term in the Burning Man lexicon. If youve been there youve seen the huge amount of trash and waste. Its not pretty. I love the radical self-expression part of it though. I think it does inspire people and its inspired me.
Do you make any socio-political messages in your music and are there any current events that youre following?
If I were to say my music had a message I would say it would be break the rules. I keep up on news and current events. My homepage is the New York Times. I listen to a lot of news and I like to hear different perspectives than my own. My three favorites are conservative talk radio, the Catholic Channel and Howard Stern on Sirius Radio.
Have you ever tried DMT or Ayahuasca?
I’ve taken ayahuasca once at an ayahuasca ceremony. It’s not for everybody. It’s intense and hard to describe. It was interesting but I’m not an ayahuascanaut.
Could you describe some of the visions you had?
The best way to describe my experience would be to say I was plugged into a power source and a lot of current was running though my system. It was exciting and scary. And I puked my heart out.
Have you been noticing synchronicities in your life?
Yeah, but I’m pretty cautious when it comes to assigning meaning to synchronicities. I may think I know the meaning of a certain event but the web of causation is huge and intricate far beyond my capacity to understand. So I find it presumptuous to claim that I know the meaning of a specific event. Sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture. I try to avoid jumping at the meaning of an event. I find that when a significant synchronicity happens for me, its not something I wanted or was waiting for, I just know its significant on some deeper level.
What’s next for you?
Next time I come out things will be different. In my DJ sets I’ll mainly play other people’s music. But for my original music I’ll have live drums and I’ll be playing Keys.