KNIFEHANDCHOP with SYNTONICS , DOUGIE BOOM and FISTFIGHT at Sneaky Dee's (431 College), Saturday (June 16). www.knifehandchop.com. Rating: NNNNN
To be honest, I didn't get Knifehandchop (aka Billy Pollard) at all the first time I heard him.
My colleague Tim Perlich suggested I check him out several years ago, but Knifehandchop's aggressively manic mangling of old hardcore rave beats with hiphop and dancehall samples and cheeky pop references seemed like just a calculated ironic indie-electronic joke to my ears.
Suddenly, Pollard's wacky musical world makes much more sense, and it turns out I'm like a lot of music writers who miss the mark when they construe his plundering of pop music as satire.
"I think the reason people do that is that they feel guilty about liking it, whereas I don't," Pollard explains from his downtown home. "I don't like all pop music, but some of it's good. Some people are like, 'You sample a lot of rap - that's racist.' Why? Because I actually like it for real?
"I might have done something ironic once or twice, but definitely not most of the time.
"To be honest, I'm not really involved in the indie scene and don't know much about that. I do love a lot of really mainstream rock, and that is probably the biggest influence on my music. I try to structure my songs like that even though they're electronic."
Since his critically acclaimed 2004 full-length album, How I Left You, he's been churning out 12-inch singles and remixes that see him heading in a new direction. The IDM weirdness and bratty punk rock attitude have been trimmed to reveal surprisingly funky booty-flavoured electro-house, which may signal what we can expect from his next full-length album.
"I've been very secretive. The label's been bugging me about why it's been a few years since I did a full album. I've been doing singles, and that generates the same amount of hype anyway, since everyone just downloads. I guess artistically it's better to do an album, but I don't know what I want it to sound like yet, so I'm playing a lot of new unreleased stuff, seeing how it goes down. Hopefully, that will show me what I want the album to sound like.
"The labels don't really have that much control any more. You used to have to release an album to get money, but now you just play shows, and that's more fun anyway."