***Part Two begins where Part one ended and where the inspiration for doing a KCB feature began, Skymning’s latest E.P. By now, Kieran Tahir is up in the café too. ***
Part 1 here: http://whatsgood.co.nz/kerosene-comic-book-part-1/
It seems like a lot of KCB is heading in a more “mature” or “abstract” direction, I thought that especially when I heard Skymning’s new E.P…
Totems: That E.P is so fucking good, but I think everybody is focused on improving more than anything else.
Lawree: Yeah, when I started making beats it was like one big joke, and now it’s starting to get, like, almost fully serious now, though still kind of tongue-in-cheek.
Reuben: You can’t just keep making the same record over and over again…
Lawree: But also everyone else keeps releasing dope shit, so I don’t wanna be like “the joke guy,” you know?
Reuben: Every time anyone releases anything I’m like, “Fuck this, I have to step my game up again. Fuck you guys!” But it’s rad, keeping each other on our toes.
Will the image of KCB change as the music continues change? ‘Cause at the moment it’s all 420 mixtape, blaze up, and stuff.
Reuben: Yeah, well, the reason we had a four-twenty mixtape was because of the four twenty show we did at Puppies, but Puppies is closed now, so can’t do that anymore!
Lawree: There will be another mixtape, but it won’t be four-twenty. That whole thing has gotten kind of old now.
Reuben: Even the sound of this new E.P is gunna be like the least “weedy” thing I’ve ever done. But it’s probably the trippiest.
More than anything the whole four-twenty image thing just came from us, at that time, smoking a fuck-ton of weed. Like first year out of high school I was smoking all the time and that’s when I started making beats seriously. So I think that really stuck with me. Tagging everything on Bandcamp with “420” like, “Yeah I made this when I was blazed!”
I read an UTR interview with you from around that time, and you said that this dude called ‘Cartoon‘ was a sell out for moving to Australia.
*******I normally edit out laughter but just for the record after that statement there was some particularly hearty chuckles and an assurance ‘Cartoon’ was the opposite kind of musician to a sellout *********
A few of the KCB guys now are at a level of success in New Zealand where going to Australia would seem like a kind of natural step, is that something any of you have thought about?
Reuben: I don’t think I’d wanna just move to Australia. Like, if I was going to make a move I’d want to go to Europe or America, like go all the way, y’know. I don’t think I could really be fucked just shifting next door. It’d be like moving house and moving to the same fucking street and still being like, “I hate this neighborhood!”
Lawree: Being down South made me appreciate New Zealand fuckin’ heaps aye.
What about it exactly?
Lawree: We drove through the Alps, Arthurs Pass and Hass Pass.
Reuben: Fuckin’ most beautiful shit I’ve ever seen.
Lawree: Yeah, going through there, playing Skymning real loud, it was amazing.
Can atmospheres and spaces like that ever influence your music?
Reuben: Totally. When I went to Europe, well the UK mostly, Scotland got me super on-the-buzz to make music. The Highlands and Wetlands got me super into ambience.
Yeah, Skymning’s E.P sounded like it was really influenced by a kind of “wet-ness”.
Reuben: It sounds like Wellington, bro. Same as Yvnalseca sounds. Like, Christchurch on a dark night, detours through collapsed roads and stuff, that shit is spooky.
Do you guys ever miss being able to incorporate influences through lyrics like you can in “band” setups?
Reuben: Nah, I hate lyrics aye. That why I don’t put any vocals on my electronic stuff.
Lawree: It’s also like, if I have something that I want to say in a beat, then I’ll just use a sample or I do this thing where I type into text editor and download it as an mp3 and use it that way.
Reuben: With electronic music there’s definitely something you’re trying to convey, but it’s more up to people’s interpretations.
Kieran: And often you’re just trying to convey something for you, not anyone else. Your tunes will mean something to you and potentially mean something completely different to somebody else. And we all have our own perceptions of happy and sad, really.
Reuben: Yeah I’ve had that where people will be like, “This tune bangs,” and I’m like, “Nah this is depressing as fuck.”
Visually, Kieran’s releases have a lot of political references. Do you reckon KCB as a whole will ever get political?
Reuben: I don’t feel like anything should ever be outright political, because I hate that. Apart from ‘Rage Against the Machine’, that’s the only political band that I can really fuck with.
What about someone like Gil Scott Heron?
Reuben: Oh yeah, nah, true, but then a lot of Hip Hop and Funk is more of a social commentary. Something which is giving someone something to think about rather than outright telling people what to think. That’s one of my favorite things about hip hop, that people can just be honest about the kind of shit they had to go through. Like have you heard that Chiraq beat? You know because Chicago’s like the Murder capital of America, with a real huge youth gang and gun problem? That shit makes you feel ill, like, its next-level.
But if you wanna come out and be like, “This is the big thing! This is shit! This is what I Believe!” then that just gets a bit too preachy for me.
But - and I might just be assuming this here - I’m pretty sure we all have pretty similar political views and ideals. I mean, I know us three do.
Kieran: Behind the scenes KCB has always been political. Do you know how super cells work? Behind closed doors KCB is really an investment scheme for a range of powerful political figures, but we can’t talk too much about that.
Right, but with your music, Kieran, you have more than just visual reference points. One of your tracks on Soundcloud you described as a “sonic interpretation of warfare,” and I know you’re a politics student; do you personally have plans to delve more into that?
Kieran: Well, nah. Like Reuben said, the lyrics in political music tend to just get kind of corny, so I would never outlet it through that. I’m not gonna come out and start rapping about being some kind of one-man military or something.
And could you even really reference anything in Auckland or New Zealand that comes close to the kind of trauma of the Chiraq stuff? A lot of the time New Zealand politics comes off as particularly corny.
Reuben: I mean, I don’t know. There have been things in my family which have been petty fucking bleak. It definitely does happen here, but not as ruthless as it is in the States.
What kind of music turned you on to making music in the first place? At that kind of impressionable early teens age, I guess Hip-hop was the dominant genre. Scribe’s ‘Crusader’ was a pretty huge album around that time.
Reuben: I was definitely into that late 90s early 2000s hip hop when I was a kid, but that’s not what got me into hip hop.
Lawree: I used to listen to heaps of Pink Floyd as a kid, aye.
Reuben: Just gangsta shit.
Kieran: Yeah, same.
Reuben: I used to act gangsta as a kid, even in first form. Then I started playing guitar and grew my hair out and was like, “Nah rap music’s shit! It’s not real music, it hasn’t got guitars in it. There not even playing any instruments, they’re just talking.”
Kieran: For myself, I feel like my electronic music obsession grew out of listening to a lot of New Zealand electronic music. Like, ‘Concord Dawn’ was a big starting point.
Reuben: Yeah, for both of us, aye. ‘Cause Kieran taught me how to make beats on Fruity Loops when we were like fourteen. Making shitty, shitty drum and base together, trying to be ‘Concord Dawn’.
Kieran: Yeah, that was pretty much it, except we were probably better then Concord Dawn. Fuck, I wish I could hear those shitty beats now.
Reuben: Going to Springs [Western Springs College, Auckland. Kieran and Reuben went there.] was pretty important too, ‘cause lots of people there showed me mean tunes. Even my Mum’s tastes, like Massive Attack and Portishead were pretty influential.
What about you Lawree, what was your experience of Music at High School?
Lawree: I went to Hauraki Plains College so the culture was mostly farming and rowing. I used make songs in my room at that time but I didn’t get into making beats until I met these guys.
Was your experience in any way similar to Reuben and Kierans, in terms having mates that you were feeding off?
Lawree: Nah, no way. The only other dude that was into the same shit as me was Hugh, who’s also in ‘Caroles’.
Reuben: But even my overall high school experience wasn’t that positive. Like, obviously Kieran was my homeboy and I had a few other real good mates and shit, but most people I was just like pfff… I don’t know.
Kieran: Even still I feel like a lot of people that fuck with our music now wouldn’t have given a shit until we left school.
Lawree: Yeah same, dude. People from my high school who I barely even talked to are coming to our shows now, trying to get in and stuff, and I’m like, “Ahh… Weren’t actually friends with you in high school. You alienated me and shit, fuck you.”
Reuben: Hard, dude, yeah.
I talked a bit about this in my last interview, that it seems like the willingness to express that kind of angst outwardly is missing from a lot of music today. Guitar bands like ‘Mac Demarco’ and ‘Real Estate’ are pretty introspective, and there doesn’t seem like a willingness to express any kind of aggression. What appealed to me at first at high school when I felt alienated, pretty similarly to you guys was early 90s grunge, stuff that you can listen to and be like, “Yeah! Fuck everyone!”
Kieran: You should listen to ‘Caroles’ bro. You can see these guys’ moods changing onstage. Like they get a look like “let’s fucking turn up” and it goes mental for like five minutes, and when it gets slow and introspective. It’s almost too obvious they’re fucking stoners.
**** You should listen to Caroles too, or anything churned out by one of the dudes in KCB, because as I said in part one, for someone not that into electronic music generally, they’re becoming pretty irresistible. Luckily Totems and Career Girls have brand new e.ps to check out, and Kieran’s surely got something in the pipeline too. A little Soundcloud follow never hurt anybody. *****