The KVB Discuss Berlin and Soviet Era Vinyl, Among Other Influences
We first met The KVB at Bad Vibrations gigs and house parties in East London. We'd be lounging around in warehouses bellowing with shoegaze and cigarette smoke, with cans of Red Stripe littered around a floor of ash and fur coats.
The KVB’s Kat Day would be dressed in black leather mini skirts and towering heels with her white cheeks and red lips bobbing out under a dark fringe. A friend would comment that he always envied Nick Wood - her bandmate and boyfriend - as he plays the coolest music and has the hottest girlfriend.
Now based in Berlin, and with the release of their third album Mirror Being and another European tour behind them, there's a lot to catch up on before they headline the Fuzz Club Festival in London next weekend.
You've had a busy year releasing the album and touring extensively. Lets start by telling us what you're up to at the moment.
We just played a show in Moscow last weekend which was in an old plastic factory next to the river Volga. It was filled with art installations, was incredibly loud and there was lots of dancing during the 24 hour party. Before last weekend we hadn't played a show since early September, so these last two months have been a nice break from a very busy year spent touring and working on the next album. These two shows in the UK, and another in Madrid with Psychic TV will be our last until 2016, which is when the new album will be out on Invada Records.
Tell us about your move to Berlin and how it's impacted you creatively. It seems to be the perfect mix of post-industrialism, DIY mindset and ever-present electro for your music and visual styles.
We did consider other parts of the UK but chose Berlin as we have friends over here already and knew that the lower rent / larger spaces would allow us to concentrate on both the audio and visuals sides of our project. All of which you mention about Berlin naturally influences us, but also the hibernation-inducing grey of the winter, the slower pace of life and opportunity of time has proved the most influential. Although aspects of the Berlin hedonistic lifestyle can hinder productivity... so you can only indulge in them occasionally if you want anything to get done!
What differences and similarities can you draw between the music and art scenes in the two cities?
Both are good in different ways, Berlin's music and art scenes are smaller and the music mostly techno and electronic music, but there is a freedom to be able to do what you want here artistically - perhaps more like how London used to be.
Did Berlin have an impact on Mirror Being?
Absolutely, although about half of the material was recorded before we moved here, Berlin influenced the decision to release it as a limited tape ourselves. It very much captured the spirit of how we felt at the time artistically in addition to how we felt living in a new city.
What usually affects your music, and keeps it evolving and changing?
We love discovering new music from all over the world. We were just given some Soviet Era vinyls by our friend in Moscow which are really interesting. Again, travelling is what inspires the visuals too - the cover of Mirror Being was inspired by a tiny photograph on the wall of a family-run restaurant in a small town in Padua, Italy.
The track you open Mirror Being with transported me back to the 90s and listening to electronica under the hazy glow of ecstasy. Is that a fair assessment or completely off the mark?
Yeah that seems about right! "Atlas" was actually the last track that was written for Mirror Being. We had just acquired a Streichfett string synth and wanted to use it to create an opening track that was euphoric, immersive and sets the scene for what follows...
From there the album moves through a series of tracks with abstract forms and each sounds more like an exploration of a mood or sound than a 'song.' Can you tell us a bit about this?
Most of the tracks on Mirror Being were recorded from live experimentations, with no or very few overdubs. We wanted it to feel like a film soundtrack and to capture the atmosphere of journeys in their purest form. It also made sense for us to release it on cassette initially, like it was a bootleg recording from a deranged warehouse party...
It seems to be marking out its own territory in electronic experimentalism. Does it feel like you've turned a corner creatively, or arrived in a new phase of The KVB?
We see it as a different side of The KVB. After putting out a few records that were mainly song orientated, we wanted to show that there are more levels to what we do. On our next record we've tried to combine the melodies and songwriting of the earlier material with the more experimental aesthetic of Mirror Being. We think its going to be our best work to date!
Can you tell us about the visual side of things. What are the themes that you're working with currently?
Kat - The hypnotising affect of flicker as well as the haptic is what interests me the most, that sensation that flows from your finger tips and up towards your spine when you see something tactile on the screen, so much so that you can almost feel it, like your eyes are stroking the pixels.
At what point do the visuals come into things? Are they created to compliment the mood created in the music, or do they follow their own separate creative process?
Kat - They accompany the music by creating an immersive atmosphere and is a separate creative process created after the music. The work is made using a variety of cameras and 3D game design programmes, all of which follow a theme of texture, dystopian architecture and digitalising nature.
Are both the music and visuals created collaboratively between the two of you?
Nick - I usually work alone in the early stages of making the music, then Kat joins to help develop the ideas further and then I usually write the lyrics myself at the end. Kat makes all the visual elements, but talks through ideas with me. We are always changing the way we work, and as the years go on, it is becoming more collaborative across the different elements.
Do you have any side projects - music or otherwise - on the go that you'd like to tell us about?
Nick - We do have other projects such as Burma Camp, an experimental techno side project of mine, but because of our busy schedule this year we've only had a few chances to work on them. Recently I've been recording new songs that are more nostalgic and summery than The KVB, but maybe that's because we seem to be back in winter here already.
Finally, what's it like playing in East London? Does it feel like coming home?
Well it's where we played our first ever show, so in a way, yes.
The KVB are headlining the Fuzz Club Festival on November 13th at London Fields Brewhouse.