Deciphering C()D3X with The Kite String Tangle

The Kite String Tangle

For the past six years, THE KITE STRING TANGLE, or Danny Harley, has been a mainstay in the Australian electronic landscape. His consistent drive to evolve with each and every release has seen him remain at the forefront of the genre, and his ability to combine his knack for innovation and reinvention with an unbridled sense of creativity means you can always expect the unexpected with his music.

In 2019, we saw exactly that with the release of ‘P()LAR’. Taking everything he had done previously and flipping it completely on its head, The Kite String Tangle embarked on his most ambitious phase yet, channeling a darker side and leaning further into dance music by channeling rave influences and the likes of UK Garage to create an undeniable dancefloor-filler. It was the start of what would come to be his second studio album, C()D3X, and his most self-assured release yet.

There’s a certain sense of liberation that comes with being in the game for a while, and it’s this liberation that The Kite String Tangle openly embraced when creating C()D3X. From an extended and highly influential sojourn in Berlin to seeing the world in a new light, Harley managed to open up his world more than ever before to allow for new inspiration when making this album and in doing so, opened up his sonic direction as well to new and unchartered territory.

C()D3X is an 11-track record that makes a real statement from a producer who has made it his mission to never stay in one place for too long. It’s his most impressive body of work yet, and in a way feels like the most fully-realised release from The Kite String Tangle so far. A longtime favourite of ours here at Purple Sneakers, we chatted with Danny over email to talk all about his new record, the inspirations behind it and what he’s doing to keep sane while social distancing.

Hey Danny, how are you today?

I’m doing great today all things considered, getting used to the new way of life

What’s one thing you’re doing to help keep sane in social distancing right now?

I’ve downloaded an old game emulator and have been playing Crash Bandicoot. Also some puzzles have been completed.

Congratulations on the new album! How are you feeling now it’s out in the world? 

It’s always great to have a body of work released into the wild. For me, the majority of the record was done probably 6 months or so ago, so it’s really nice to hear people reacting to it now, it’s given it a new breath of life for me.

It’s been described as a shift in sound but to me it just feels like a natural evolution – does it feel that way for you? 

Yeah I can see why people would say that, but for me it felt pretty natural. Like, potentially I’m just getting closer to what i’ve always intended to be doing.

In fact, it really feels like your most self-assured work yet. Does this just come from it becoming second nature to you, or do you feel like you’ve started to really find where you belong while making this record? 

That’s great feedback to hear. I really wanted to give the record its own world and discover my identity a bit more sonically through the record. I hope that I’m really circling in on ‘my sound’.

You’re very particular about who you collaborated with – what do you look for when you’re working with someone? 

To be honest I collaborate with a bunch of people over time and then the ones that feel right for my album, and what I’m trying to achieve socially, tend to naturally float to the top. I like the idea of not trying to get the biggest name to feature, but focusing only on what will deliver the best results.

Can you talk to me about some of the collaborations on this record? Eliott, Lanks, Kateboy and Bridgette Amofah – they’re all very different artists!

Yeah they definitely vary in style and tone. I love collaborating and if i only hear my own voice on a whole record it tends to be a bit monotonous for me personally so i do always like to bring other people in. Usually it’s to do something that I can’t do myself. LANKS has a beautiful texture to his falsetto that I can’t achieve, Kateboy is up my alley sonically but having a male female interaction throughout the song brings it to another level, and with Eliott and Bridgette, they have really powerful voices that are very rare to hear so it’s really nice to have them break up the record too.

You spent some time over in Berlin while making this record, and you’ve spoken about how inspiring this city was and its impact is pretty clear on the record. Do you think because it’s so different to your home of Brisbane and you were so out of your comfort zone, you were able to experiment with sounds more than you ever have before and that’s how you ended up with this sound? 

I’d say that’s accurate. I also got a lot of time to write this record and experiment with the sounds so that was really nice. I bought some essential things like a keyboard, a small synth, a microphone and a sound card and got to play around with that whilst exploring the city. It was a really unique and gratifying experience.

You had a very clear concept for this record – can you tell me a bit about the initial inspiration that you got from a book, and how that evolved into this record we have today? 

I found this book called codex serafanius which is supposed to recreate the feeling a child gets when they look at an encyclopaedia but for adults. So the images are all foreign and the words are in an unknown language with unknown characters, but the pages feel nice and it invites you to explore this other world. I wanted to recreate something similar with the sonics and aesthetic of the record. Something unfamiliar but inviting.

The artwork kind of ties into this, and you spoke about how Serjan Burlak made almost like a new language of sorts – when did this start to take shape and how far into this darker electronic route were you when this all started to crystallise? 

This all happened pretty early on in the process. I really wanted the creation of the music and the artwork to be as parallel as possible. I contacted Serjan when i started writing the album and gave him the whole concept and we shared our progress as we went. It was a really cool process actually.

You’ve always been inspired by the likes of Bonobo or Jamie xx or even Burial – and I think one thing that holds all these acts in the same group is their ability to create whole worlds within their records. This is something that I think you’ve achieved more than ever with C()D3X, and I think if anything, the world needs to escape into music more than ever before right now. Why has this music always meant so much to you, both as a fan and an artist? 

For me it’s always been fascinating how those producers can evoke so much emotion with just sound. They always create these beautifully textured beats and it gives the music so much personality, I think that’s why they seem to open up these universes for the listener and that’s what I’m trying to achieve now too.

Exist Recordings was started as a way for you to feel like you could give back to the industry – you’ve already had the likes of Golden Vessel and Lastlings release on this roster, plus more emerging acts like Reynier and the amazing Close Counters. Given you’ve been in the industry since the Pigeon days, why was it important to you to be able to give back this way?

I think there’s so much talent in and around Brisbane and it’s sometimes overlooked. More and more now, artists are starting their own collectives and labels and operations and I reckon it’s a great way to both climb as an artist and pay the same thing forward to new upcoming artists. I love being part of that network.

Looking forward now, it’s a bit hard to plan the rest of the year given how uncertain things are in the industry, but I wanted to ask given you’ve been around for a while now and achieved some major wins over the years – what’s one thing you’re aiming to achieve next? 

I’m focused on honing in on my “sound” and exploring what I’ve done with this album but even further. It’s a great time to be writing and exploring creatively so I’m keen to sharpen my tools and get prolific.

The Kite String Tangle’s C()D3X is out now.

Interview by Emma Jones

Image by Cybele Malinowski

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Just a Robyn stan who loves going to the club.