the AU interview: Simon Lam of Klo (Melbourne) talk about their new EP "Cusp" and Beyond The Valley NYE Festival

What have you and your cousin achieved to date? Taken your sweet little Gammy out to lunch? Maybe even put on a Christmas song and dance that you’re relatives politely cheered on? Whilst all admirable, you’ve got nothing on Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam of Klo.

The Melbourne cousins, bought together by their mums, have ascended to bliss in record time. Bringing you soulfully drenched melodies and carefully composed beats and glitches, the two meld oh so smoothly. Rich soundscapes that’ll make you melt (check yoself). I chatted to Simon (a mere half) about Melbourne musical favourites (take notes), swagging out and imminent world domination ahead of their appearance at Beyond The Valley and the release of their new EP Cusp (our Friday).

You guys are cousins yeah? Did you grow up in a very musical family?

Yep. Well our parents aren’t really musical that much, but I’ve got three siblings and they’re all much better at music than me.

I find that hard to believe!

It’s true. My little sister is a bit of a prodigy. She’s ridiculous. Chloe’s brother also, he was in a bunch of choirs as a singer. It seems like the previous generation wasn’t, but this generation in my family is pretty damn musical.

You got all the good genes in this generation.

Yeah, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what it is.

Something in the water.

(Laughs) yeah.

You get along quite well then? Do you think it’s easier to work with a family member? You can be as honest as you want and they still have to love you at the end of the day.

I think there is definitely some of that. I mean we weren’t really close before we started this project. Like, we’d see each other at all the usual family events and whatever, but I think there is something about knowing someone for so long and even though you see each other so sporadically, the foundations are there. Even though we didn’t start off close, the relationship to time graph has gone up pretty quick (laughs) . Compared to if I was just to work with someone just out of the blue.

(Laughs) yeah for sure. What made you take on another project independently of Ill’s?

Um, I guess it’s just like, I make a lot of music. I’lls is kind of just one part of me because we do the experimental thing. The longest thing I’ve been doing is this solo folk project that I’ve been doing.

Oh, that’s rad. What’s it called?

Oh, I haven’t done anything since 2011. It’s called Nearly Oroatorio. I’m just about to finish an EP, which is hopefully gonna come out on Chet Fakers label.

Oh, nice one.

So yeah, that’ll be cool. So, I have my folk thing and my experimental thing, but I’ve had a really longstanding love for more dancy music and especially pop. When I started working with Chloe, I think we both quickly realized that this could be an outlet for that kind of music.

Yeah, sort of satisfy a different creative need.

Yeah, well I have a whole bunch of stuff on my computer that I wasn’t able to use on anything. Now that I’ve got this, I’ve got all these ideas that I can finally get out there. Same with her obviously!

I imagine you must be pretty busy juggling the two, but it must be good to have the different creative outlets, yeah?

Yeah, it’s pretty self indulgent (laughs) .

I don’t think so, you’re making something for other people (laughs) . Just depends what way you look at it I guess.

(Laughs) that’s nice, that’s nice.

Now you guys only had your first show together at Boney as recently as September, how was the night? I heard it got pretty hot.

Yeah it was nuts. My girlfriend kind of got a bit crushed and fainted and Hamish from I’lls had to kind of drag her out. Sounded like a nightmare trying to get her out the door because they were at the front and the crowd was just ridiculous. Have you been to Boney?

Yeah, yeah, it gets so hot in there. I went for Peanut Butter Wolf a couple of months ago and it was insane. The hottest I think I’ve ever been.

I remember getting a call from my friend who was like, ‘I’ve got a ticket, but I can’t get in’. So I went out to find him. The line was going from the door all the way past the door around the corner. It was stupid.

Must have been a pretty amazing feeling though?

(Laughs) Once we were up on stage. Getting up there was a bit tough. We had our managers trying to push people away so we could get in. We were just trying to get from the DJ booth to the stage and we couldn’t. It was just nuts.

Yeah, it gets pretty crazy there, but it’s good fun.

Yeaaaah, it was cool.

How have things taken off since then?

Really well, we managed to get the live set just under wraps for that first show. Since then, every time we get like a week off, we’re just trying to catch up as much as we can as best as we can I guess. Now we’re just rehersing as much as we can for the end of year fesitvals. You know, Melbourne Music Week and stuff. Now that the EP’s finished, we worked on it hard and the deadline was really close as well. Now that we’ve done it, we’re taking our time with some new stuff as well. Writing new stuff and taking our time.

I feel like you guys are a band on steroids, the whole process is so crazy fast (laughs) .

(Laughs) It’s pretty funny, but I think we’re both starting to treat it like a job now. I’ve quit my job now and I dropped out of uni as well and Chloe also had to do the same. Once you clear up a lot of space by making a lot of sacrifices, you kind of find the time to get everything done. Definitely no sterioids (laughs) ! Don’t condone the steroids!

(Laughs) You’ve got a single coming out today is that right?

I just made the post for it actually!

Ooooh, I haven’t checked it out yet, what’s the single?

It’s called ‘Under Lie”

Tell me about it.

Ummm well the lyrics side of it you will probably have to go to Chloe (laughs) . Ummm I can just tell you its all sort of influenced by UK dance influences. Guys like Lone and James Blake. It’s the first up tempo song we’ve released.

Ohhhh that’s exciting.

Yeah, a bit nervous about it. Obviously it’s pretty different to the other stuff we’ve done, but I’m excited at the same time.

What’s your collaborative process like when you go about making new music? Does it come from one person or are you both sort of throwing ideas out there?

In the early days we did try the whole produce a track thing and I’d send it to Chloe and she’d sing over it. You know, we made tracks doing that, but they were a bit stale and didn’t have the life that we wanted. We do everything in the same room now and a lot of it starts with just messing around on synths and Chloe will start singing and she’ll then sing into a cassette tape and we’ll record that in and chop it up. It’s sort of just like a big blur until we step back and press play…

And there’s suddenly a song there…

Hopefully (laughs) . Or something that resembles a song.

That’ll do, we’ll take that. Now as you said, you’ve got Paradise, Strawberry and Beyond the Valley this year, which is huge. Are you pretty nervous for that or are you looking forward to it?

Well I played Strawberry and Paradise last year and I’m really glad I went to Paradise last year and I now know how cold it is, basically (laughs) .

(Laughs) So you’ll be prepared for the cold?

I’ll be prepared this time. I’ve never played anything as big as Beyond The Valley so I’m looking forward to that. It’s a lot of camping.

Definitely a lot of camping. You guys are gonna have to get your act together.

Yeah, I’m gonna have to finally get myself some proper gear.

You should just buy a swag.

See this is the stuff I need to learn. What is a swag?

A swag is like, I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s sort of like a mattress in a flat canvas tent with a sleeping bag in it. You don’t have to set it up you just roll it out and it’s done.

Oh right, that’s genius.

Yeah, get to sleep out under the stars. The lazy persons camping.

That’s definitely for me.

Do you find that your music translates pretty easily to a live setting?

I think we could have made it easy for ourselves. We went to a lot of shows together, just in Melbourne, to sort of check out what people were doing. We didn’t start off making electronic music. We both started off making mostly acoustic music. A lot of people, what they’re doing is cool, playing beats and kind of dancing around a lot, which is cool. But I think if we did that, we would be using our strength, which is actually playing instruments.

You want it to be more like live music rather than just pressing a play button?

(Laughs) yeah, yeah, without sounding too…you know.

Well I said it so you know, you’re off the hook.

(Laughs) Thanks for covering. Yeah we’ve integrated analogue synths into it. Chloe’s doing a whole lot live, she’s singing and playing keys and sampling all at once. It was really hard in the first few rehearsals, but we just stuck with it. I think it’s really paid off because you can create a lot of shape if you’ve got control over the elements in the set.

Yeah for sure, it’s a lot more personal when you go to a show like that.

Yeah, I think hearing people fuck up is part of a live performance.

I feel like half the time people wouldn’t notice, just you guys noticing.

(Laughs) yeah.

What’s the best thing about making music?

Ahhh, the best thing. I guess like, this is pretty cool when you put out a track and your friends start sending you messages saying congrats and that they like it. Just being surrounded by positivity I guess.

Yeah, that’s rad.

It’s funny, when you release a track, everything’s positive, but mostly, in the lead up to releasing a track, everything is so negative. Just making a track is emotionally draining, there’s fights and just stress. But yeah, I guess the best thing about music is that it ends on a good note.

And the worst?

Ummm, I think the worst thing is having high standards. Me and Chloe both do. Unfortunately, we can’t let things slide and if there’s something wrong in the track we have to fix it, which sometimes means spending days on something that no one will notice the difference on.

Yeah, but you guys will so I guess it’s worth it. If that’s your bad thing, that’s a good quality to have.

Yeah I guess, I just see a lot of people having a lot more fun than we do, we’re just stressing out over something (laughs) .

Maybe the fun will come a bit later.

Yeah, like it’s fun right now, talking to you is fun (laughs) .

I’m glad I’m bringing some fun into it. There’s a lot of mega talented Melbourne musicians floating around at the moment. Who are your top picks?

Ummm top picks can be bias hey?

I’ll allow it, I’ll allow it.

(Laughs) Oscar Key Sung, he’s great. He’s such a nice guy and he’s super talented and if he’s not one of the big Australian exports in the next couple of years it’ll be pretty disappointing. These guys called Good Morning who just put out their first single. I’ve been following all their previous bands and projects before this, but this is definitely the best thing they’ve done. I’ve heard the rest of their EP that they’re putting out, it’s just summer bangers pretty much.

That’s what we like.

Yeah, so Good Morning is the name of them. There’s this guy called Wabz, he’s one of these guys, he’s another recluse that kind of keeps to himself and has been making amazing music for a while. He’s about to put out some cool stuff as well. Oh I might also give my brother, DXHeaven a plug. He’s a freak, he taught me everthing I know about music.

Oh that’s nice. What are your plans for 2015? A debut LP? World domination?

(Laughs) me and Chloe were talking about this the other day about what we were gonna do next year. We can’t really commit to anything in terms of uni or work because we have no idea what’s happening.

That’s kind of exciting though.

Yeah, we could go all the way to the top or we could just fall (laughs)..

Hopefully not the latter.

We’re just gonna write tunes because that’s all we know to do and that’s all we can do. So we’re just gonna do that over the summer and just see what happens I guess.

Sounds good to me.

Yeah me too!


Klo's debut EP Cusp will be released on Friday the 14th of November via Dot Dash/Remote Control. Don't miss Klo at Beyond The Valley over New Years or at any of these events:

Melbourne Music Week Hub, Melbourne, VIC

Laneway Presents MMW Showcase
Kelvin Club, Melbourne VIC

Strawberry Fields Festival
The Wildlands, VIC

Paradise Music Festival
Lake Mountain Ski Resort, VIC

Beyond The Valley Music Festival
Phillip Island, VIC

Listen to their new single "Under Lie" here: