K-X-P Talk: 808s, Shamanic Rituals And The History Of Techno
Finnish crew K-X-P recently set themselves a challenge: condense the history of techno into ome 20 minute freak out jam. The end result was a piece of industrial majesty, a heady proto-techno jam where K-X-B's vintage kit is playing the players as much as it is being played. When we heard that K-X-P leader Timo Kaukolampi was intent on using techno as a means to release the 'lizard brain' through shamanic trance we knew we needed to hear more. One quick Skype to Finland and Timo explained all…
So Timo, can you talk us through the kit you made The History of Techno on
The main bassline is from a Juno 60. There’s been a Moog, an Oberheim Sim, and the main mood is from a Roland 808 drum machine. Actually my Mum bought it for me because I haven’t got any money at the moment (laughs)
You've spoken about the music being a shamanistic experience – what do you mean?
What I'm trying to have emphasis on is that the listener can almost fall into this trance while listening. When Im playing live with K-X-P it has this shamanistic thing, we’re trying to create this musical vortex that puts you on some kind of transcendental level of listening, that’s what the record is all about.
Do you feel like you're falling into a trance yourself when you play?
Yeah, that’s what it's all about – we are all musicians in the band, but no one plays any solos, we just play this sound, almost like we're creating some kind of new space. It’s really difficult to explain, but when you see us live, maybe you fall into this state of trance
Like the individual is disappearing?
Yeah! Exactly. We’re wearing these capes when we play live, and my vision is that there is nothing inside the capes, it’s like emptiness. This sounds really strange! But it’s like a ceremony, we don’t have a religion behind it, but it is very ritualistic somehow. It’s extremely loud!
At the moment we have two drummers, and I’m doing electronics and playing guitar. We used to have a bass, but now we took out the bass, so we’re always going to be having two drummers on stage, along with synths, vocal effects and a sampler.
And are the drummers playing along to an 808 drum track as well?
Yeah, lots of drums..! We’re coming to London to play at the Shacklewell Arms so you can see it there.
I always feel Techno is very shaped by its location – and Finland is so very different to Detroit, has that shaped your response to the sound?
Yeah for sure. I think it’s very Finnish – it has this vibe to it, because we haven’t got much of the urban culture here – its very un-urban (laughs)
I mean it has influences from all around the world – that record has lots of North African influences, like from Mali, it has that sub river underneath it. But it has lots of Finnish life on the top.
So what sounds Finnish?
Well I can’t say for sure. But I think our civilisation is relatively young, so we haven’t had that long a history of cities, for example, Helsinki was founded a little over a hundred years ago in 1888, and that was the first big city. This has something to do with it – everything we consider ‘urban’ and a big city thing we always borrow from outside Finland
I always think of techno as a very futuristic genre, who do you reconcile this futurism with making music that’s somewhat retro?
We’ve got a very naïve futuristic vision of the whole thing. The machines we are using are very old, like from the beginning of the 80s, but I think those machines still sound – at least to my ear – very futuristic. I don’t know the origin of these machines, but they were probably created to imitate a drummer or something like that, but they definitely don’t sound like a real drummer! So there is this kind of naivity involved. Im not trying to say we understand the history of techno at all, but when I heard those early proto techno tracks they sounded like someone was trying to do something and failing, and something more interesting came out.
Is there much of a scene in Finland
Yeah, I mean it’s a little difficult for me to say – for me that’s been a wonderful electronic music scene around a label called Sähkö. That was the original label for Panasonic and Jimi Tenor, and these kind of acts, so there’s always been a techno kind of thing around. Myself I'm a big fan of all kinds of Detroit stuff, Joey Beltram, Ron Trent, this kind of sound. But techno is so wide at the moment it’s very difficult to say what it means anymore – it’s evolving and it’s going different places, and I'm not that actively going to clubs, so I don’t know where it’s going. I'm sure it’s different in all cities of the world.
So to wrap it up, what have you got coming next?
I’ve got an album coming out next year – I’ve been working on it for a long time, I started on it in 2012 – for me it always takes a long time to make something ready. And we started our own label to make some great looking vinyl – The History of Techno is the first release, but the main focus is the album next year in March. It’s gonna be a little bit different to the EP, with the same vibe and energy, but maybe a little bit more of a rock element. It’s gonna be long songs – 5 or 6 songs and it’ll be 40 minutes. The first part is coming in March.
Pre-order The History of Techno from here
Watch K-X-P play London on the 10th December at the Shacklewell Arms – it's a free e-ticket show – register here
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