30 Seconds: Asbo Kid

James Atkin topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic as singer of EMF. He talks to us about his current Project Asbo Kid.

Paul Nichols
  • By Paul Nichols
  • 3 Aug 2012
  • min read
James Atkin topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic as singer of EMF and now brings his life long love of all things dancey to the unique fusion of rave, ska, techno, pop and electro that is Asbo Kid. The other half of Asbo Kid is Justin Welch, drummer (and only male member) of Brit Pop icons Elastica, and a founding member of Suede.

Asbo Kid say their current material is what they'd be doing if they were both starting out now!

M caught up with James:

Q1 How long have you been making music?

I made my first record in 1985 whilst still at school. I remember having to bunk off school so I could head on down to London to do a BBC Janis Long session at Maida Vale studios; this was followed by a live show that night at Covent Garden’s  Rock Garden. Going back to school the next day wasn’t that appealing, soon I dropped out completely and started my life on its rock ‘n’ roll journey. In 1990 I got signed to EMI and released Unbelievable with my band EMF.

Q2 What inspired your latest song/EP/album?

Personally moving to the countryside away from the London madness gave me the space to focus.

Q3 What process do you go through to create your music?

There are no set rules to the way the Asbo Kid create their tunes. It may initially start with Justin playing a drum groove on his drum kit or it could be simply plugging in one of our old analogue synthesizers and jamming a riff. We usually start and finish a tune very quickly, from the initial idea thru to the mix and mastering.  We find this keeps the idea fresh and maintains the vibe. Quite often we might take an idea into a  rehearsal room for a few hours and see how it works sonically and structurally. Frequently this leads us to re-arrange the tune before taking it back into the recording studio to finish.

Q4 How would you describe your sound?

It has been described as ‘Car alarm techno’, it does certainly sound a bit of a racket at times. We are very proud of our old-school roots and fondly reference this at every opportunity in our music. We also love dub and dance-hall music, our first stop when calling for effects processing is tape space-echoes and vintage spring and plate reverbs.

Q5 What would your dream collaboration be?

I’m hoping that soon a massive current DJ/producer might want some early 90s indie/dance vocalist on one of their big tunes. CALL ME!

Q6 Where can we catch you performing next

These days we are very selective regarding where we play. Our music lends itself more to the club environment or late night festival experience. For this reason we steer clear of the more traditional band venues. Our next live date is the ‘Big Mountain Music Festival’ – 8 December – Thailand.