Hailed by the likes of Annie Mac and DJ Yoda, Kormac has built a reputation for creating “carnage” at his blistering live performances. But there is also a great deal of subtlety to his music, producing the kaleidoscope of beats from cinematic overtures to trippy electronica. The Dublin-based musician kindly paused mid-tour in Australia to tell R$N why he chose bestselling author Irvine Welsh and an opera singer among his album vocalists;
What are you up to in Australia? How are you finding it?
I'm here with my band in Melbourne. We're just about to do three shows here with a group called Snarky Puppy. We arrived two days ago so I've had some time to explore Melbourne's many, many record shops. It's been great so far. I hear the shows have sold out so I'm pretty excited.
Congratulations on the new album...what are the major themes behind it?
Thanks. Collaboration, experimentation, innovation, technology.
Is it a scary thing taking your creation it out on the road and into live venues?
A lot of work goes into preparing the shows, from rehearsing with all the live players to preparing the digital and production side of things. I wouldn't say it's scary at all though. Essentially, I'm performing music I've written with my friends to large groups of people. I guess there's always a bit of nervousness involved in the moments leading up to the gig, but I see that as a positive thing. It shows you care and you really want it to go well. It's an absolute joy.
How did you choose the collaborators?
I tried to stay away from the obvious candidates. I tried not to do what I figured people expected of me. To explain, after my debut album I suppose the easiest thing to do was throw money at a bunch of famous rappers and have them phone in verses. For this project, I wanted to work with people that inspired me in a bunch of different ways and whose work I really respected . I also wanted to work with people who the masses may not be aware of but are amazingly talented.
Did any turn you down?
I've been trying to get Martina Topley Bird on one of my songs for years but we couldn't get it to work. I should point out that track I had for her wasn't any of the songs on Doorsteps.
I like that you travelled to the homes of collaborators in a kind of "through the keyhole" stylee! Were there artistic reasons for this or simple economics?
I much prefer working and writing with people face to face. It allows for spontaneity and for us to buzz off each other and generate ideas we might not come up with if things were just being emailed across. This happened so many times during the process.
Did you get better performances because the artists were at home and relaxed?
I think so. We sometimes worked in the artists' local studios where they knew the engineers or assistants. I think this gave us a bit of head start in that they were used to performing in front of these guys. Micah (P. Hinson) and I worked at his friend's house where he build a little project studio for the two of us for the week. All very ramshackle and tremendous fun.
What made you want to get Irvine Welsh? How did you know where he lived?
We have a mutual friend who suggested it would be an interesting idea to work together. I spoke to him that morning when I arrived at the airport!
What is your overall purpose – is it just feeling the music or are you on a mission?
I'm trying to write music that excites me and perform it to as many lunatics as possible.
Your promo states you create “multi-sensory performances”, in Kormac’s solo audio visual show, armed with new technology, he plays, scratches and manipulates both audio and video.” What equipment do you use on stage? Can you describe what someone might expect from a Kormac gig?
I use two mac laptops, a midi keyboard, a Launchpad, a Technics turntable and a Rane mixer. I run Serato and two copies of Ableton live on stage. Also on the stage are: tuba, trombone, trumpet, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, a synth, drums, electric bass.
People should expect carnage from Kormac's Big Band. We don't do sit-down shows. It's all about energy with us.
What is the best gig you have ever played?
The one where I got to shout 'Hello Glastonbury!'
What would a perfect future for Kormac look like?
My life feels pretty good right now to be honest. I just want to keep making and performing music surround by the people I love.
What is the probable future for Kormac?
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions!!! :-)
Kormac's new album Doorsteps out now on Bodytonic Records and is available on Itunes here.