For her Fact mix k means holds us at a constant simmer, slick with sweat and dense with smog, burbling between unease and release, murk and steam.
Like so many of us during increasingly cursed times, k means is feeling unsettled. This isn’t entirely new territory for the Stockholm-born, Bristol-based DJ, in fact, by her own admission, the unsettling is often what most attracts her to music. “I like to be weirded out,” she told International Orange, “I like it when [music] takes you aback and maybe makes you feel like you want to go into a weird frog stance and do a weird dance.” Growing up playing piano and violin while simultaneously obsessing over a steady diet of video game soundtracks, this formative love affair with video games quickly overwhelmed her more classical influences, resulting in years spent performing iconic scores from Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger on the piano. Her appreciation for the virtuosic economy of these compositions morphed into a profound love of the raw energy and lethal functionality of footwork and juke, the music that got her into mixing in the first place and, she says, “sits closest to my heart.” Add the sonic textures of whirring modems, dial-up tones and error message glitch that accompanies her other role as a computer scientist, as well as many hours of on-air experimentation for Noods, Netil and Rinse FM, and you’re halfway to the singular space her ear occupies.
“Mixes commonly represent a few things for me; where my head’s currently at, my emotional state, and more simply what I’m enjoying at the moment,” says k means. “My life has been in a state of flux recently. There’s been a lot of emotions flying about, countless train rides, an impending house move. I moved to Bristol early this year too, which has been a very appreciated change. I guess that’s sort of the theme of my life right now – shit is moving in all shapes and forms, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Emotionally, I think this mix represents the repercussions of this, where I’m channeling all of the organised and disorganised chaos I’m currently experiencing.” Finding unstoppable momentum in said chaos, her Fact mix pitches us into a irresistible descent through high-pressure industrial throb, dread techno, ghost footwork, deepest, darkest dub and everything in-between, the radioactive thrash of breakbeats and the gnarled snarl of snares suspended on cacophonous bass rattle, paired-back moments embellishing slow skeletal pulse with wiggy vocal samples, sombre synthesis and low-end ooze, all permeated with a steady creep of lysergic tension.
Slick with sweat and dense with smog, k means holds us at a constant simmer, burbling between unease and release, murk and steam. “Musically, I drew a lot of inspiration from a closing set I recently played at Venue MOT, following after Shackleton and Al Wootton,” she continues. “I often play closing sets – there’s usually a style of closing set I’m drawn to, but I’ll always try to play to the context. This mix is very much my ideal closing set in terms of how the energy and sounds flows throughout it, one I’d want to play late at night in a dark, heavily smoke-filled room. Starting things real intense, allowing things to descend into a clattery percussive hellhole, going deeper, slowly coming out of the other end, getting trippier, more grungy, more amphibian, eventually ascending into a noisy, guttural climax – things are noisy, hazy – then wondering, how did I end up here?” Unfurling with exploratory purpose, each weighty surge and masterful retreat dropping the bottom out of your stomach, this is music to close your eyes and get loose to, the sound of moving through dissociation and displacement while keeping your head just above the foam and slime of the swamp. No tracklist, no life jacket, no safety, untethered and tapped in, you’re going to have to go with k means for this one. Trust us, it’s more than worth it.
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