The Bug

BIOGRAPHY

“I’d already started work on the album before the pandemic. I was already agitated enough with what was going on in the world, globally it felt there was already enough terror in the world, it already felt like it was spinning out of control but the pandemic added . . . spice. I was reminded of being a teenager in the cold war but this was even scarier because you didn’t know who the enemy was, and all the disinformation fed your paranoia. ‘Fire’ is an album that...

“I’d already started work on the album before the pandemic. I was already agitated enough with what was going on in the world, globally it felt there was already enough terror in the world, it already felt like it was spinning out of control but the pandemic added . . . spice. I was reminded of being a teenager in the cold war but this was even scarier because you didn’t know who the enemy was, and all the disinformation fed your paranoia. ‘Fire’ is an album that emerges from some basic questions - the world is a fucking mess and what do you do about that? Go with the flow? Challenge it? Challenge yourself? I can only move forward, and that’s what you can hear on ‘Fire’” - Kevin Martin, The Bug, 2021. 

Kevin Martin’s first new non-collaborative full-length album under The Bug moniker for seven years could not be better timed, and could not be more needed: ‘Fire’ - the third exhilarating part of an incendiary urban triptych, that began with 2008’s explosive ‘London Zoo’ via 2014’s mind-melting 'Angels & Devils' - is fourteen tracks that immolate the synapses, flail the body, that cinematically take you from arcing evocations of a bleak lockdowned city-scape to swooping deep-focus close-ups of Martin and his collaborator’s psyches at breaking point. The aggression, the attitude, the vertiginous scope and subterranean incisiveness, the destabilising unsettling frenzy of The Bug sound is marshalled to perfection throughout but ‘Fire’ is no mere reanimation of The Bug’s past - for Martin, the album is both a response to the unique circumstances of the past year but also a chance to reflect his own journey from reclusive sound-obsessive to family man, and his thirst - in a period of enforced hermetic isolation - for contact, for the mayhem that can only happen between people, noise and bass, the derangement of the senses that has been The Bug’s method and trajectory ever since it first crawled out of London’s deepest corners in the late 90s. To this wracked, rapt listener, it’s The Bug’s best yet, possibly the most ferociously realised and immensely moving music Martin has ever made, and still touches on those initial cravings and impulses that first propelled ‘London Zoo’ into your world like a pipe bomb through your letterbox. It’s a HUNGRY record in all senses. 

“I've always been addicted to the physicality and intensity of sound: I started The Bug because I wanted to make music for a soundsystem I had in storage, and the live experience of The Bug has always been something I wanted to reflect on record - I’m always looking for fuel to the fire and live shows - and MISSING live shows in lockdown was a real impetus” Martin admits. “I’m always asking - how can I ramp this up MORE? How can I get people more out of control? For me a live show should be unforgettable, should alter your DNA, or scar you for life in a good way - that’s always been my goal, to set up shows that are unforgettable. I like friction, chaos, fanning the flames with sound, and this album is the most reflective of the live show in terms of intensity and the sheer fuck-off attitude of those shows. ‘WHAT the FUCK?’ is the reaction I want - insane is a good reaction especially at a time when there’s so much control in how people consume music and are pacified culturally’

From the off, The Bug has been an uniquely indomitable phenomenon, confidently crossing cultural tracks other artists fear to tread, always on the lookout for chances to create the kind of sonic bedlam that has fired and inspired Kevin Martin over two decades of projects including noise outfits God and Techno-Animal, Zonal, and the bruised dubtronics of King Midas Sound, as well as a myriad of one-off releases on a myriad of labels across the sphere of experimental and avant-garde electronica. Initially conceived as a vehicle for an alternative soundtrack to Coppola’s paranoid classic ‘The Conversation’ (1997’s ‘Tapping The Conversation’ LP created alongside DJ Vadim), The Bug became the project in which Martin could fully explore his increased fascination and obsession with the MC cultures of Jamaican dancehall, grime and hip hop. Through 2003’s ‘Pressure’ and 2008’s ‘London Zoo’ (his debut for Ninja Tune) The Bug became the musical entity in which Martin’s own revolutionary ideas about sound could fully clash and mutate through collaboration with a welter of astonishing MCs, many of whom express their ongoing solidarity on ‘Fire’. 

“For me that was really crucial - and the thing that militates towards making a Bug record rather than another solo project” nods Martin. “I have a big problem with producers ‘sampling’ MCs - it feels like cultural theft, and I always preferred the idea of collaborating with vocalists, not using them. When I started the Bug dancehall was kind of untouchable by white liberals but for me it was an addiction. At the same time I was watching crews like Roll Deep and just loving that electricity that happens between multiple MCs with contrasting flows/styles - it reminded me of Saxon Sound System tapes - I’ve always loved contrast, contradiction, friction, taking CARE about who I work with rather than just ‘renting’ a rapper.” 

In a world and a musical culture in which divisions are ossifying and calcifying what’s so thrillingly revelatory about ‘Fire’ is that it’s a total detonation of those barriers between genres, between scenes, between cultures, reflecting Martin’s move to Brussels as the pandemic broke across Europe. With wife and family in tow, music became both more crucial than ever but also a process Martin feels more relaxed and generous about - ‘Fire’ is where the Bug emerges not just as Kevin Martin’s baby, but as a collective, an inferno lit by mutual respect.

“We were literally running for our lives,” he admits. “It was as close to wartime as I’ve ever been. I moved my family, my studio, to Brussels from Berlin literally the day before lockdown happened. What I found in Brussels was a cultural openness and fluidity I’d never encountered anywhere else in my life. On ‘Fire’ it was really important to me to keep this album tight with my family of MCs - the cultural reticence that leads to producers just using voices as punctuation doesn’t interest me, even though the areas I thrive in musically - hip hop, dancehall, grime - are ferociously territorial and hostile to outsiders. MCs have massive egos - you have to, and I’m very much a guy who likes hiding behind his system and his speakers but for me collaboration is fiery, pushing each other to new heights and lows. ‘Fire’ is all about teamwork and incredibly high goals - me and the MCs would keep doing versions until we were happy, pushing ourselves to make tracks that put jaws on floors. I wanted it to be an uncompromising, brutal as fuck record and that wouldn’t be possible without the MCs pushing me, and me pushing them. When I got in touch with MCs I wanted to work with for ‘Fire’ the instructions were the same for all of them: VENT your anger, every single bit of your frustration should be on this record.”

‘Fire’ is no hectoring polemic though - the MCs featured (longtime likeminds like Flowdan, Roger Robinson, Moor Mother, Manga Saint Hilare, Irah & Daddy Freddy alongside relatively new names to the Bug stable like Logan, Nazamba and FFSYTHO) inevitably reflect the external madness of a world turned upside down, but also dig deep into themselves to craft reflective, pitilessly honest portrayals of the rage, resistance and resignation the last year has engendered in all of us. Check the juddering maelstrom of ‘Clash’ wherein Logan matches every lunging hit of the kick and Martin’s none-more-dank dubtronics with a diseased narrative of mental warfare and strife, or ‘Pressure’ where Flowdan imperiously calls out the universe for a scrap over a beat so thunkingly rapacious its as if the ghost of Andy Weatherall has been reanimated for some rerubbing duties. Throughout ‘Fire’ you can hear MCs and Martin upping the ante, pushed to new heights and lows by an ever-present, periphirally-glimpsed armageddon. 

“2020 was the worst dystopian nightmares made real - part of me was panic-stricken, the other part of me was ‘how am I going to stay sane?” recalls Martin. “I’ve got to support 4 people and it might be YEARS before I play shows - this was at the back of my mind making the album. Just to keep calm I got into making solo albums which was meditative, got me back in touch with myself and enabled me to rebuild my studio which kept me working and helped me keep my head straight. It was crucial because I’ve realised through life that what keeps me grounded is music. I used to think I wanted to bury myself in NOW, reality, sensation, information - as time’s gone on I’ve realised I want to actually make a parallel world in sound - the studio gave me an escape from just how fucked up the world was last year. That feeling of external chaos but really questioning yourself internally is something that all the MCs, in different ways, reflect on ‘Fire’. And I feel I’ve grown - making music not just as an egotistical pursuit but to support my family has meant I’ve stopped overthinking things - we KNEW when tracks were finished and loosening my maniacal control over the music, letting it breathe and come together more naturally. That’s something I think you can hear throughout the album.”  

‘Fire’ then is 14 tracks that not only chart where we are right now, but offer tantalising glimpses of just what miracles we might soon conjure again together. Growing up VAST. Get some ‘Fire’ in your belly and feel the BURN. This plague has found its soundtrack. 


Forthcoming Events

January 2022

The Bug

Popular Tracks

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BIOGRAPHY

“I’d already started work on the album before the pandemic. I was already agitated enough with what was going on in the world, globally it felt there was already enough terror in the world, it already felt like it was spinning out of control but the pandemic added . . . spice. I was reminded of being a teenager in the cold war but this was even scarier because you didn’t know who the enemy was, and all the disinformation fed your paranoia. ‘Fire’ is an album that emerges from some b...

“I’d already started work on the album before the pandemic. I was already agitated enough with what was going on in the world, globally it felt there was already enough terror in the world, it already felt like it was spinning out of control but the pandemic added . . . spice. I was reminded of being a teenager in the cold war but this was even scarier because you didn’t know who the enemy was, and all the disinformation fed your paranoia. ‘Fire’ is an album that emerges from some basic questions - the world is a fucking mess and what do you do about that? Go with the flow? Challenge it? Challenge yourself? I can only move forward, and that’s what you can hear on ‘Fire’” - Kevin Martin, The Bug, 2021. 

Kevin Martin’s first new non-collaborative full-length album under The Bug moniker for seven years could not be better timed, and could not be more needed: ‘Fire’ - the third exhilarating part of an incendiary urban triptych, that began with 2008’s explosive ‘London Zoo’ via 2014’s mind-melting 'Angels & Devils' - is fourteen tracks that immolate the synapses, flail the body, that cinematically take you from arcing evocations of a bleak lockdowned city-scape to swooping deep-focus close-ups of Martin and his collaborator’s psyches at breaking point. The aggression, the attitude, the vertiginous scope and subterranean incisiveness, the destabilising unsettling frenzy of The Bug sound is marshalled to perfection throughout but ‘Fire’ is no mere reanimation of The Bug’s past - for Martin, the album is both a response to the unique circumstances of the past year but also a chance to reflect his own journey from reclusive sound-obsessive to family man, and his thirst - in a period of enforced hermetic isolation - for contact, for the mayhem that can only happen between people, noise and bass, the derangement of the senses that has been The Bug’s method and trajectory ever since it first crawled out of London’s deepest corners in the late 90s. To this wracked, rapt listener, it’s The Bug’s best yet, possibly the most ferociously realised and immensely moving music Martin has ever made, and still touches on those initial cravings and impulses that first propelled ‘London Zoo’ into your world like a pipe bomb through your letterbox. It’s a HUNGRY record in all senses. 

“I've always been addicted to the physicality and intensity of sound: I started The Bug because I wanted to make music for a soundsystem I had in storage, and the live experience of The Bug has always been something I wanted to reflect on record - I’m always looking for fuel to the fire and live shows - and MISSING live shows in lockdown was a real impetus” Martin admits. “I’m always asking - how can I ramp this up MORE? How can I get people more out of control? For me a live show should be unforgettable, should alter your DNA, or scar you for life in a good way - that’s always been my goal, to set up shows that are unforgettable. I like friction, chaos, fanning the flames with sound, and this album is the most reflective of the live show in terms of intensity and the sheer fuck-off attitude of those shows. ‘WHAT the FUCK?’ is the reaction I want - insane is a good reaction especially at a time when there’s so much control in how people consume music and are pacified culturally’

From the off, The Bug has been an uniquely indomitable phenomenon, confidently crossing cultural tracks other artists fear to tread, always on the lookout for chances to create the kind of sonic bedlam that has fired and inspired Kevin Martin over two decades of projects including noise outfits God and Techno-Animal, Zonal, and the bruised dubtronics of King Midas Sound, as well as a myriad of one-off releases on a myriad of labels across the sphere of experimental and avant-garde electronica. Initially conceived as a vehicle for an alternative soundtrack to Coppola’s paranoid classic ‘The Conversation’ (1997’s ‘Tapping The Conversation’ LP created alongside DJ Vadim), The Bug became the project in which Martin could fully explore his increased fascination and obsession with the MC cultures of Jamaican dancehall, grime and hip hop. Through 2003’s ‘Pressure’ and 2008’s ‘London Zoo’ (his debut for Ninja Tune) The Bug became the musical entity in which Martin’s own revolutionary ideas about sound could fully clash and mutate through collaboration with a welter of astonishing MCs, many of whom express their ongoing solidarity on ‘Fire’. 

“For me that was really crucial - and the thing that militates towards making a Bug record rather than another solo project” nods Martin. “I have a big problem with producers ‘sampling’ MCs - it feels like cultural theft, and I always preferred the idea of collaborating with vocalists, not using them. When I started the Bug dancehall was kind of untouchable by white liberals but for me it was an addiction. At the same time I was watching crews like Roll Deep and just loving that electricity that happens between multiple MCs with contrasting flows/styles - it reminded me of Saxon Sound System tapes - I’ve always loved contrast, contradiction, friction, taking CARE about who I work with rather than just ‘renting’ a rapper.” 

In a world and a musical culture in which divisions are ossifying and calcifying what’s so thrillingly revelatory about ‘Fire’ is that it’s a total detonation of those barriers between genres, between scenes, between cultures, reflecting Martin’s move to Brussels as the pandemic broke across Europe. With wife and family in tow, music became both more crucial than ever but also a process Martin feels more relaxed and generous about - ‘Fire’ is where the Bug emerges not just as Kevin Martin’s baby, but as a collective, an inferno lit by mutual respect.

“We were literally running for our lives,” he admits. “It was as close to wartime as I’ve ever been. I moved my family, my studio, to Brussels from Berlin literally the day before lockdown happened. What I found in Brussels was a cultural openness and fluidity I’d never encountered anywhere else in my life. On ‘Fire’ it was really important to me to keep this album tight with my family of MCs - the cultural reticence that leads to producers just using voices as punctuation doesn’t interest me, even though the areas I thrive in musically - hip hop, dancehall, grime - are ferociously territorial and hostile to outsiders. MCs have massive egos - you have to, and I’m very much a guy who likes hiding behind his system and his speakers but for me collaboration is fiery, pushing each other to new heights and lows. ‘Fire’ is all about teamwork and incredibly high goals - me and the MCs would keep doing versions until we were happy, pushing ourselves to make tracks that put jaws on floors. I wanted it to be an uncompromising, brutal as fuck record and that wouldn’t be possible without the MCs pushing me, and me pushing them. When I got in touch with MCs I wanted to work with for ‘Fire’ the instructions were the same for all of them: VENT your anger, every single bit of your frustration should be on this record.”

‘Fire’ is no hectoring polemic though - the MCs featured (longtime likeminds like Flowdan, Roger Robinson, Moor Mother, Manga Saint Hilare, Irah & Daddy Freddy alongside relatively new names to the Bug stable like Logan, Nazamba and FFSYTHO) inevitably reflect the external madness of a world turned upside down, but also dig deep into themselves to craft reflective, pitilessly honest portrayals of the rage, resistance and resignation the last year has engendered in all of us. Check the juddering maelstrom of ‘Clash’ wherein Logan matches every lunging hit of the kick and Martin’s none-more-dank dubtronics with a diseased narrative of mental warfare and strife, or ‘Pressure’ where Flowdan imperiously calls out the universe for a scrap over a beat so thunkingly rapacious its as if the ghost of Andy Weatherall has been reanimated for some rerubbing duties. Throughout ‘Fire’ you can hear MCs and Martin upping the ante, pushed to new heights and lows by an ever-present, periphirally-glimpsed armageddon. 

“2020 was the worst dystopian nightmares made real - part of me was panic-stricken, the other part of me was ‘how am I going to stay sane?” recalls Martin. “I’ve got to support 4 people and it might be YEARS before I play shows - this was at the back of my mind making the album. Just to keep calm I got into making solo albums which was meditative, got me back in touch with myself and enabled me to rebuild my studio which kept me working and helped me keep my head straight. It was crucial because I’ve realised through life that what keeps me grounded is music. I used to think I wanted to bury myself in NOW, reality, sensation, information - as time’s gone on I’ve realised I want to actually make a parallel world in sound - the studio gave me an escape from just how fucked up the world was last year. That feeling of external chaos but really questioning yourself internally is something that all the MCs, in different ways, reflect on ‘Fire’. And I feel I’ve grown - making music not just as an egotistical pursuit but to support my family has meant I’ve stopped overthinking things - we KNEW when tracks were finished and loosening my maniacal control over the music, letting it breathe and come together more naturally. That’s something I think you can hear throughout the album.”  

‘Fire’ then is 14 tracks that not only chart where we are right now, but offer tantalising glimpses of just what miracles we might soon conjure again together. Growing up VAST. Get some ‘Fire’ in your belly and feel the BURN. This plague has found its soundtrack. 

Forthcoming Events

January 2022