Double drumming Finnish four-piece K-X-P hit down with History of Techno their own label Öm, the force behind that imprint is K-X-P + Svart Records, this week and we’re premiering their live video of the EP below. Having toured with the likes of James Blake and Moon Duo the bands live shows have become renowned for their inimitable brand of incandescent electro-kraut, sounding something like Liars playing a pulsating proto techno whilst summoning the spirit of Can.
Rising from the ashes of Finnish bands Op:l Bastards and And The Lefthanded, we caught up with Timo Kaukolampi, the frontman beneath the hood as he was out shopping in Finnish wholesale store, Heinon Tukku to talk all things History of Techno.
The new EP is called History of Techno. What is your history with techno?
I used to do four-to-the-floor songs but they always had experimental and dark aspects. History of Techno is more like some seventies disco records that are very monotonic. I think that they’re the first techno records ever recorded. Manuel Gottsching who came from a kraut rock background with Ash Ra Temple, he made a track called E2-E4, which is one of the first techno records, so we were kind of looking at its history and wanted to do a proper homage of all the great techno that people don’t know.
History of Techno marks a bit of a change in sound for the band. Was that an intentional change?
I think it was just that K-X-P has always sounded a little too soft and nice. I think now we are getting to the stage where our records are starting to sound the same as we sound live. This is something that we’ve been doing a lot of work on. To get the same sound and same energy that we have live but have that on a record.
Your last record sounded quite celebratory whereas History of Techno sounds very deep and kraut-y. Was there a difference in the way you approached them?
I would say our record II was a little bit too song based for what we want K-X-P to be. There were too many songs made from pop structures. With the history of techno we’ve put a real emphasis on the groove. We’re releasing a record next year, that’s going to be a very dark and deep record. It will have the same sound as History of Techno but with more of a rock sound. I think we are getting the message straight now with the K-X-P, so the story is going to become a bit more understandable. There was a big gap between the crazy, super loud live shows and then all the records. We’re getting closer to that.
So do you kind of feel like you’re really finding your feet as a band now?
When we started the band we didn’t really know that we had a band. We were just experimenting. We’re just starting our own label through a vinyl label in Finland called Svart. Now thay we’ve got our own label our sound is very much the sound of what we want K-X-P to be. It’s not reflecting any other label or any other desires or visions of what K-X-P is about. I always like to communicate with labels and ask for their comments on the music. It makes no sense if I turn round and say ‘this is the music that you’re going to release and if it’s not what you expected then screw you’. I mean if there is a label that are going to release a record then it has to be something that they believe they can work with. Now that’s really changed as we are doing everything ourselves.
You originally stated that you started K-X-P to get away from being in a band.
Yeah that’s right. It’s hard to explain. Before K-X-P I had been doing electronic music for ten years so when I started playing with a drummer and real musicians it opened up this whole new world. It was freer and I really enjoyed that freedom. The feeling where you are creating a new dimension and a new space when you fall into this transcended level of jut playing something repetitive.
So you prefer to keep playing improvisation as oppose to more pre defined music?
There is a small composition behind what we play, almost like some kind of loose structure, like in the free jazz context. Everybody’s playing their own thing but they’re all playing a along a theme.
Would electronic free jazz be a fair analogy of your music then?
We incorporate a lot of elements that traditionally free jazz people wouldn’t. I think if you were to say electronic meditative drone together with some melodies that’s maybe the thing. I like to listen to free jazz a lot but if you were to call us electronic free jazz that some people turning up to see us might be a bit surprised by what we are doing.
You talked about the repetition of the music-taking people into a trance like state.
Yeah I would say at the moment for me this is the most important thing. It’s all about losing your conscious mind, I think its very natural for humans to fall into hypnosis or something similar and for me that’s the interesting part.
You’ve become quite well known for the hoods you wear on stage.
I think its good as an artist to have a ritual. When we are put on the capes I feel that there is nothing inside the cape. That it is empty; a black hole inside the cape. In a way, the black hole is the musical virtuosity. This is what I think is the meaning of the cape. It is the emptiness of what is inside the cape that is interesting. When you turn off your brain and just start to play. There is no set thing under the cape, it is just emptiness inside. It might sound far out but for me it feels very natural to think this way.
There is kind of a freedom to your sound. Do you think being Finnish or being in Finland effect’s you as a musician?
Everything is really isolated here. I’ve been imitating lots of music that I like. I always like to operate with influences that my music is in the past. So you can hear history in it but it is also very futuristic. So you really can’t put your finger on where the inspiration comes from. But then music has to be of a present time in some way. For me the past is important but the future is much more important.
As for the future, now you have your own label, what are the plans?
We’re going to play the London show, then after that we go to Holland to play a festival and then we go to Paris. After that we have a new record, III, it’s coming out on 30th March. We actually have three records, two of them are ready and we’re working on the third one. Our label is really important as we can now work with a continuum of things; we’ve got release plans through to 2016.
K-X-P play the Shacklewell on 10th December.
History of Techno is out now on Svart.