Between the ages of 13 and 18, Paul Kendall (or PK as he is more readily known) served his musical apprenticeship in a variety of bands where he covered every style from blues and rock through to free jazz - at one point demonstrating his prowess on bongos, recorder and vocals with the intensely named Obscenities Children. It was however during a year at university where he was supposed to be studying for a maths degree, that he became interested in electronic music. After being dismissed from his course for spending too much time in the college studio, he continued with this new-found passion whilst working in a bank to pay the bills. After 9 years of managing other people's money, Paul decided it was time to make some of his own from this love of music, so he set up a demo studio in Covent Garden. It was in 1984 that his first wife, who was then singing with Fad Gadget, introduced him to Daniel Miller, head of the then relatively young Mute Records. He subsequently ended up working for Daniel and Mute for the next 11 years.
Paul is no stranger to the stresses and strains of life in the music
business, so we waited until we could catch him in jubilant mood after
his favourite football team, Arsenal's recent double victories........
"Unfortunately I'm old enough to remember the last Arsenal double. This one was particularly sweet because no-one believed Arsenal could do it after Manchester United's huge lead in the middle of the season. As for the World Cup, I don't hold out much hope for England but because my wife is French I have the possibility of supporting both England and France."
"I think the most important thing about Mute is that the variety of music is greater than any other record company so there is always something new to be interested in."
A.C. Marias, Barry Adamson, Depeche Mode, Diamanda
Galas, Die Krupps, Erasure, Fortran 5, Bruce Gilbert, Holger Hiller, Inspiral
Carpets, I Start Counting, Laibach, Miranda Sex Garden, Nitzer Ebb, Parallax,
Recoil, Renegade Soundwave, Andrei Samsanov, Spell, These Immortal Souls,
Frank Tovey, Wire and Various compilations.
How did you first meet Alan?
"Actually I first met him when I used to look after Daniel's Synclavier that was used quite extensively on the early DM albums 'Construction Time Again' and 'Some Great Reward' - I was responsible for setting up all the gear they used at the time."
During the 1992 recording of Depeche Mode's 'Songs
Of Faith And Devotion' at Chateau Du Pape Studios in Hamburg, PK briefly
deputised for Steve Lyon who had to return home for the birth of his daughter.
"It was quite a pleasurable week actually"
he remembers, "I was primarily working with Alan and Flood as the rest
of the band weren't really there except for Dave who was doing vocals."
PK's forays into the world of Recoil have included
the remixing of the first single 'Drifting' and the follow-up, 'Stalker',
with Alan. Armed with a powerful ProTools set-up and an unwavering enthusiasm
for creating strange noises, he was instrumental in translating Alan's
sonic notions into reality and also contributed his own unique ideas and
designs, clearly stamping his mark on the final results.
And will you be working with Alan again?
"I very much hope to be working on the latter stages of the next Recoil album and I'm very excited by the prospect. The chance of using two digital systems is particularly exciting."
Besides Mute acts, have you worked with anyone else?
"I've done a fair amount of freelance work with acts including Nine Inch Nails, Gallon Drunk, Primal Scream and The Jesus And Mary Chain amongst others."
But you don't just twiddle knobs for other people do you? Tell us about your own music.
"The music that I create under my own name is basically non-rhythmic electronic music. It's more about sound experimentation than anything else."
The following albums are released on PK's own
Parallel Series label which is part of the Mute catalogue. They are available
from the Mute Bank - visit Connections - mail order for details.
PK recently visited Russia with Andrei Samsanov, a young Russian clarinetist who also appears within the Parallel Series, and Danny Briochet, formerly of Renegade Soundwave.
"We were asked to play 2 shows there; the first gig was in St. Petersberg, rather unfortunately, at a Friday night handbag disco. My experimental electronic music didn't go down particularly well with the Friday night revellers although the second show in Moscow, at more of a rock venue, was pretty good. We had a power cut during the middle of the performance which actually worked in our favour - it gave the punters a little bit of time to breath and re-adjust their hearing for the sonic assaults.
There is a very healthy and adventurous scene
in Russia. Most musicians are classically trained which, in contrast to
the UK, means people are very experimental and open-minded. There's also
a lot of interest in many Mute acts - Depeche Mode are huge. Unfortunately,
they don't sell very many records due to a vast pirate market."
PK's main equipment set-up centres around a ProTools system that contains a multitude of effects plug-ins.
"Effects are my instruments. I also like outboard
gear like Lexicon reverbs and Yamaha delays."
This passion for effects can be seen in the impressive array that is part of Worldwide Studios. Designed and stocked by Paul this, not unsurprisingly, makes Worldwide one of his favourite studios to work in. And what do you prefer, the analogue or digital approach or a bit of both?
"Ooh er, I think I like a bit of both actually.
It depends on the circumstances. I like the sound of analogue tape but
I also like to be able to manipulate sound which the digital domain allows
one to do."
After working with so many different artists and
styles of music, PK cites his favourite projects as those where he is able
to express himself creatively. In particular, he enjoys this kind of contribution
during the mixing and post production stages. His alarming love of screwdriver
work (as Alan's been known to call it) was best demonstrated when Alan
and PK settled into the editing suite at Worldwide on 3 or 4 separate occasions
to edit different versions of the singles (radio edit / video edit, single
remixes etc.), as well as compiling a CD interview for 'Unsound Methods'
and reconfiguring Pip Dann's interview for a Recoil E.P.K. Faced with a
day staring at wave forms on a monitor in tropical temperatures, PK rubbed
his hands with glee and declared "I love
doing this bit..." Well, that's lucky
And what don't you like?
"I tend to get frustrated having to engineer live bands. It's not my forte.
When asked who he'd like to work with in the
future, he admits to being disappointed that he never had the chance to
twiddle the knobs of Einsturzende Neubauten and advises us to look out
for some unusual bands in the coming months - amongst them, Ultrasound,
an English band with an amazing vocalist and a Japanese group, Buffalo
Daughter, who are signed to the Beastie Boys' label and "make excellent
noise, a bit like early Wire."
After all your years and experience in the music industry, do you have any advice for would-be engineers and producers?
"Give up your life - working within this business as an engineer or producer means that your life is completely dominated by each project and there doesn't seem to be any way round it - it comes with the territory really. Working within the world of music can be the most rewarding, and at the same time, frustrating method of earning a living, but certainly one that I would never change. I waited until relatively late in life to start and I will continue to work until the day I die..."