KOAN Sound Interview
Thanks, and no neither of us are Buddhists ha. Clearly the second question is slightly tongue in cheek but I think music is undeniably a therapeutic tool, and listening to music or creating music can definitely induce a meditative-like state in the right environment. Culturally music is also hugely important as it has the power the break down social barriers and bring people together towards a common purpose.
You're heading back for another US tour soon... What three essential items do you pack before any US jaunt?
There’s a load of essential gear stuff we take on tour but for me right now it’s my Olympus OM10 camera, portable Minirig speaker and my acoustic noise-cancelling headphones, which make a life spent on buses/trains/planes that much more bearable!
How do the US crowds compare to UK ones?
From our experience at the moment there isn’t a huge gap between the US and UK in terms of the music itself and the events we play at. However I think that if you look more broadly at Dubstep and electronic music in general there are differentiations in attitudes.
Growing up in the UK in the 90s there were all kinds of electronic acts that made it into the charts and mainstream culture, from Basement Jaxx to The Prodigy to Dizzee Rascal and countless others. Most of these acts never really broke North America on a commercial scale, partly because major labels in the US hadn't fully embraced electronic music. Currently mainstream/pop music in North America is undergoing a considerable shift in the types of music being played on big radio stations and the types of producers being asked to produce records for artists in the charts.
I feel that the main difference between the two countries is that electronic music will always be much more deeply ingrained in the musical heritage of the UK, whilst comparably, to many young people in the US, electronic music (or EDM as it’s been branded) is a completely new phenomenon, and because of that they’re often unaware of much of the history that goes along with the culture of dance music.
Do you pack a different playlist to suit different country's party needs?
It varies from place to place, as some cities are known as being Drum & Bass ‘strongholds’ or have grown up on Hip-Hop or played a big role in the Dubstep scene before it blew up etc. Often though these generalisations don’t really translate over into reality and therefore are not that useful to spend too much time thinking about. Having said that (and this carries over from the previous question), playing at places like fabric in London is always amazing as there’s such a broad knowledge of music, both present and past, so it’s great being able to pick out old Garage/ Grime tunes and stuff like that, that we would never really play anywhere else.
You've spent A LOT of time on the road. What's been the strangest or scariest interaction/moment/scenario you've ever had on tour?
One thing that springs to mind randomly is this show we did in Glasgow supporting Skrillex last year. We were at this after-party in some flashy club in the backstage area with a load of the guys in Geordie Shore. Felt pretty out of place hah..
And where in the world haven't you conquered yet?
Antarctica. Apparently penguins love frequencies under 100HZ though.
Where would your dream gig be and who's on the line-up?
I think it would be crazy to do a show in some place of antiquity like the Pyramids of Egypt. Imagine putting on a rave in the burial chamber of one of the pharaohs. Maybe also have Burial headlining.
You've made so many interesting, unique sonic investigations in the last few years... Which record are you most proud of?
Probably our remix of Ed Sheeran’s “The A-Team”. It had to be done in a really short space of time, so after powering through it in a couple of days it turned out quite well and we were really happy with it!
And, in hindsight, which record would you like to go back and work on a little more?
Literally every tune. The more you learn the more you realise what you could have done with older records. But it’s a better use of time to look forward instead and try to make a better tune than the last.
Let's spend a moment or two bigging up the Bristol scene. You're one of many influential bass practitioners to come from the Wild West... Who's been the most influential on you guys?
When we discovered Drum & Bass our exploration of the genre was mostly quite isolated cos we were so young. We didn’t have any other mates who were into it as well and could recommend us stuff so we just had to find out for ourselves. Roni Size’s LPs were some of the first Drum & Bass records I bought, and it was really exciting to know that this music we were finding out about was being made in the same city on the planet that we were growing up in.
Moving forward a few years, some of the first Dubstep events we went to and could actually get into were Pinch and Peverelist’s Dubloaded/Subloaded nights. These were pretty inspirational for us as early experiences of hearing Dubstep in the right context. You hear a lot of romanticising nowadays about ‘a dark room and a big soundsystem’ but that’s pretty much what our earliest club experiences were like.
Also in terms of producers at the time, the stuff HENCH crew were putting out as well as all of Joker’s early material heavily influenced us.
Now let's spend a moment or two bigging up your future releases... We know there's a very cheeky remix of Reso on the cards. What's next?
For the last couple of months we’ve been really busy dedicating time to our next EP, which will be a collaboration with Asa on the Inspected label. We’ve collaborated several times with each other in the past and we’ve felt the results have always brought out the best ideas in both of us, so it made sense to work on a more substantial project. Looking forward even further we have a couple of other exciting collaborations in the pipeline with some of our favourite producers, so it should be a good year!
Here's the obligatory 'album?' question... Is a debut long player on the horizon?
The short answer is that there’s nothing planned. I feel that the two labels we’re releasing the bulk of our music with currently lend themselves best to the EP format, mainly because they’re relatively young labels, so we’re just enjoying evolving alongside them and continuing to develop our music.
Anything else to add?
Come to our party in March!
Catch KOAN Sound playing at their Warehouse event in March with special guests Opiuo & Rockwell!