We chat with Kllo on musical trajectory, creative units and international labels
Meditated beats, whispered sentiments and textural sampling paving a chamber of hybrid influences contribute to the incessant rise in popularity of Melbourne duo, KLLO.
An act consisting of, Chloe Kaul and, Simon Lam (Nearly Oratorio, I’lls), the cousins began creating music together only a short number of years ago; which very quickly evolved into management deals, airplay and the land of live music, off the back of their debut EP, Cusp, released through Dot Dash Recordings in 2014.
Fast-track to the present year, Kllo have been as productive as ever; returning to overseas festivals, announcing international record deals with the prestigious Ghostly International and Different Recordings, and ejecting their follow-up EP release, Well Worn.
With collaboration, touring and writing underway, we were incredibly fortunate to catch up with the Good Manners signing during a recent Sydney visit, beneath the leafy canopies suspending quirky bric-a-brac in the courtyard of Redfern’s, The Bearded Tit.
Purple Sneakers: Being cousins, what was it like growing up for you two? Had you always been musical / wanted to make music together?
Chloe Kaul: We discovered it a lot later, pretty much because I was making solo music at the time, and Simon was sound engineering. He ended up recording me and making it into a track, sent it to me, and said, “Hey Chloe, I’ve recorded your vocals and made something out of it”, and pretty much just started from there. Not planned.
Was that well before the first EP?
Simon Lam: It’s the first song we ever made, ‘False Calls’, which ended up being one of the singles for the first EP.
CK: Yeah, so we definitely didn’t trial and error at all, we just went straight in.
So it was never just for fun starting out, it was always treated as a serious project?
CK: It wasn’t, but it was. Just because our managers got onto us very early, before we even released anything. So we didn’t really think much of it at first, but having people believe in us so early made it serious very quickly.
You’ve just released your second EP, Well Worn. Is it a conceptual piece?
CK: A lot of it is about growing up and moving on, really. Moving forward, and looking back.
Does Kllo have a particular plan of action when it comes to songwriting, or was, Well Worn approached differently to your first EP, Cusp?
SL: I think it’s pretty similar, like we still did a lot of our roles the same. Except, we were a lot more comfortable with each other creatively, and I think our influences have really changed since the first EP. We were a lot more into dance music and UK influences with this second EP.
We also definitely felt the pressure this time around, cause we wrote that first EP before the idea was really fully realised, but kind of knowing where this EP would end up, and who was going to be involved, it really changed our perspective on it, and I think we pushed it a lot further than we initially thought we would have.
Has that got to do with now feeling more comfortable with your sound, in terms of what Kllo stands for?
SL: I think so, we’re still trying to figure it out.
CK: I wonder if we ever will figure it out [laughs], but I think a lot of it was trying out new things, not knowing the direction, not knowing our sound and just experimenting so much, because we were afraid of not knowing what we were happy with and what other people were going to be happy with, so we went in a whole lot of other directions.
You’ve just released the clip to, ‘Walls To Build’. Could you explain its concept and desire to use analogue footage?
SL: The track was made over a long period of time, and the influences we had for the track came from all different areas; so there’s some 2-step beats in there, and some really lo-fi sampling, with poppy / r’n’b vocals… Kind of every influence we’ve had made it into that track. So we just wanted the video clip with the use of digital and analogue footage to represent that; how the ideas come in and out, and how digital and analogue, or grainy and clean can be merged together.
The best of both worlds.
SL: Yeah I think so, and hopefully it comes across as not too messy [laughs].
Directed by Hamish Mitchell [Solitaire Recordings / former I’lls member], would it be fair to say that you’ve got a set family when it comes to creative projects like film clips?
CK: At the moment yeah, cause all of us are starting out, so all of us are helping each other grow. It’s the easy option, and we know that they’re into the same kind of thing that we’re into, so it’s a bit more of a breeze that way.
SL: It’s also more fun, because everyone’s got something to get out of it. I think the stage that Hamish is at, he wants to make a really good clip, cause it’s good for his career and vice versa. I think we all just care. I feel like when you start working with some people who are more established, the care factor is a bit less, especially when you’re an up and coming artist.
CK: And it’s so nice to all work together, and all help build each other, and just have this scene. We have our little group and everyone works off each other, and inspires one another.
Kllo is quite forward-thinking in terms of sound and aesthetic. What’s your stance on defining sound? For me the idea of what “genre” is, is diminishing, would you agree?
CK: I think it depends on the band. I think we definitely don’t have too much of a set genre, we’re all over the shop.
SL: Sometimes it helps us a lot when we’re creating a track to say, “what place does this have on the record?”. We can kind of say, “it’s the r’n’b track,” or, “it’s the dance track”. That helps us sometimes to just push a track in a particular direction. I kind of believe some artists can’t help, but sound like themselves, and even if we might try and push ourselves to sound like a certain genre, we’ll always just end up sounding like, Kllo, whether we like it or not [laughs].
Well Worn has been released through Ghostly International in North America. Explain how the relationship with them formed.
SL: It’s bizarre.
CK: We were at Primavera, playing in Spain at the time, and our manager was emailing back and forth with, Ghostly! I don’t think we really know how it happened, they were just interested in us, after we played overseas last year.
SL: Yeah in fact, I think our first conversations happened at Primavera. I remember we sat down somewhere in a park after we played, and read through their emails. That same year at Splendour, after we played again, we got the final contract and signed it backstage, so that was a really exciting time.
CK: We’ve been holding onto this for a while.
SL: I think when both parties really want to work together, it’s not a struggle. It just came about really quickly. We get to meet them in person soon, so hopefully by the end of this year we will have.
So it’s all handled over email for now?
SL: Yeah, emails and Skype.
You’ve just finished up playing a bunch of festivals. How does the international crowd compare to your Australian audience?
CK: We were quite lucky when we were overseas, we played some pretty good shows. I think it more depends on the venue, and how big the crowd is. We’ve played some really good shows here as well, but there’s also been some not so good shows, whereas overseas we haven’t played as many, so we don’t have much to compare to.
SL: Melbourne is notoriously tough to play to though.
CK: Yeah, especially Saturday nights. A lot of partying.
Is that because there’s always so much on?
SL: So much on, and Melbourne can be very critical; and we’re definitely culprits for that.
CK: Well, when we played Spain, for instance, there was like triple the amount of people that would come to our shows here, just because of how big the festival was, but everyone was so attentive, it was so beautiful.
That’s so interesting, I expected the opposite to be honest.
CK: Yeah! They were all partying, but they just weren’t speaking through the set, everyone was really listening and enjoying it! Which is nice, because there’s definitely shows you’ll play where people just go to catch-up. You can’t take it to heart, just gotta let them be [laughs].
Can we expect Kllo at any forthcoming festivals?
SL: Yeah in September for Red Bull, we’re playing with Kilo Kish.
CK: We’re also heading overseas.
SL: Yeah we’ll be supporting an Australian band on their overseas tour, which we’re really excited about.
CK: Yeah! Some [festivals] in Australia too, but I don’t think anything is really announced yet. It’s that sticky time of the year, but stuff is happening, it’s exciting.
SL: We’re doing a few things overseas, and coming back to play some festivals.
I saw a photo of you guys in the Rage studio. Will you be guest programming sometime soon?
CK: We just spoke about a couple of our own tracks, it was all a bit of a blur, a lot of stuttering [laughs]? A lot of awkward moments.
SL: Yeah, we had to do a lot of takes, we’re not great at the videos.
That’s still exciting though, a bit of TV time!
CK: Yeah! It brings us back to those days when we were kids and we used to get up that early on the weekend, which just isn’t really a thing anymore.
You’ll be heading out on tour very soon. Have you incorporated any new elements to your live show?
SL: Not really, we’re just trying to perfect what we have. I think what we’ve got at the moment, we just keep pushing. I’ve seen a lot of bands over time from when they were up & coming, to headlining festivals. Some of them don’t really change all that much? They just have the same set-up, but once the dynamic between the members is solidified, they appear to be doing so much more. Using electronic stuff, you can do anything you want.
CK: I think we’ve come from doing a lot of our own thing in making everything very drawn out in the set, to stripping everything back and just playing the tracks. Now, from doing both sides, we know a lot more of a healthier medium between the two. I think since doing more gigs, we know what suits us best.
So rather than adding elements, your focus is more on being cohesive?
SL: I think so, yeah, just making sure we finish the set, feeling like we’ve said everything we wanted to say.
Do you have any collaborations or remixes coming up in the near future?
SL: There is one remix coming out, and we’re really excited about it.
CK: Yeah, very excited about it. We can’t say who just yet.
SL: From one of the idols that like, started us.
CK: One of our idols! Hectic. We just never thought that would ever happen.
SL: We listened to this artist so many times while making the first EP, to draw inspiration from.
CK: I think it was actually the first artist Simon and I bonded over? Simon showed me them when we first started making music. I didn’t know much about them, but I listen to them all the time now, so it’s an exciting time for, Kllo!
SL: Very sentimental.
Will that be released this year?
SL: Yeah, very soon.
What can we expect from Kllo for the rest of 2016?
CK: Traveling, making a whole bunch of new work. We’re currently writing the next thing, so we’re a bit ahead with that, which is great! Yeah, so touring and writing, it’s going to be fun!
Kllo will be launching their latest offering, Well Worn EP, live across the country throughout August, before joining Kilo Kish, Bok Bok, Kucka, Cliques and more for the Red Bull Music Academy’s club night, Night Moves.
Kllo‘s, Well Worn EP is available now in Australia through Good Manners.
KLLO ‘WELL WORN’ NATIONAL TOUR
Friday, 12th August
w/ Golden Vessel + Abraham Tilbury
Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Saturday, 13th August
w/ Wallace + Gussy
Plan B Small Club, Sydney
Friday, 19th August
w/ Martin King + Corin +The Harpoons DJs
The Howler, Melbourne
Thursday, 25th August
w/ Kucka (DJ Set) + Bahasa Malay + Kopano + GRRL PAL (DJ Set)
The Rosemount, Perth
Saturday, 27th August
w/ Oscilla + Young Muscle DJs
Rocket Bar, Adelaide
Words by Hannah Galvin.
Photo credit: Alan Weedon.