Touching Bass: Koan Sound
Bristol duo, Koan Sound bring a truckload of crunked-up bass to the forefront of today’s diverse playing field. Experimenting with different styles has become their forte, constantly shifting in new directions to keep the formula fresh. The likes of Skrillex has already shown interest and rightfully so. They discuss favourite venues, memories of the 80s and the Bristol scene.
Also, be sure to check out the ongoing Touching Bass mix series, which continues alongside all interviews via Mixcloud.
When you guys think of the 80s, what’s the first thing that springs to mind?
Spandex! Although it’s difficult to pick out one thing in particular but probably a lot of the overtly stereotypical things that anyone who wasn’t alive during that decade thinks of: Miami Vice, the Thatcher era and miners’ strikes, early Hip-Hop/G-Funk in the States and the emergence of hardcore/rave in the UK. Also, ridiculously funky leads.
You love to experiment with genres, but what led to the start of The Adventures of Mr. Fox?
That EP was really a continuation of the Funk Blaster EP. We were going through a phase of developing the 100BPM sound and seeing what we could do with it. Turns out it was really fun and felt very natural to make so we made more. With The Adventures of Mr. Fox I think we achieved what we wanted, so for our next EP we’re going in a completely new direction, with more tunes like Introvert in the mix and some other really experimental things.
Will you ever go back to the darker styles of dubstep that were on tracks like Blessed?
Recently we’ve been getting really deep into sound design and having a lot of fun with dark techy bass lines so probably, yeah.
How immersed were you guys in the Bristol scene growing up?
Growing up in a city like Bristol with a big music scene, we were exposed to underground music fairly early through friends and older siblings. For the first few years of going out we were definitely very active in attending certain events but as we were still underage we were too young to really contribute anything.
What was it that initially attracted you to the dirtier, harder side of dubstep?
At the time we were getting into dubstep, we were still listening to a lot of D&B, specifically producers such as Noisia and Spor. We were always into all the facets of dubstep but for us it was producers such as Reso, Vex’d and Ruckspin amongst others that we looked up to most. I think mainly because they took influence and shared a similar ethos to these sorts of drum and bass artists. I suppose people would probably describe much of their music as on the ‘harder’ end of the spectrum, however their tunes are some of the most musically complex and sonically well-produced that the genre has seen, so I guess it was this that attracted us to that style.
Early Dubstep adopters always shell out the argument that this newer type isn’t appreciative of the origins of the genre. What’s your opinion?
It’s not something we spend too much time thinking about nowadays as we’re not really that personally involved with dubstep anymore. To be honest though even in the early days of dubstep there were producers that we’ve mentioned before, like Vex’d, Toasty, Coki and Reso that were making pretty heavy music, so I guess that’s where a lot of the dancefloor-oriented dubstep you hear nowadays stemmed from. I think the main point to recognize is that all music changes and evolves for better or worse and would be pretty boring if it didn’t!
You’re out in South Africa at the start of October, have you ever ventured out there before?
We’re playing two shows in Cape Town and Pretoria (just outside of Johannesburg), it’s actually our first time playing there or anywhere on the continent. It’s going to be really interesting to see how the crowds and music scene compare and differ to other parts of the world. From what we’ve seen there seems to be a good amount of online anticipation about the shows, so we’re very excited.
What’s been your favourite venue to play at and why?
It always gets mentioned but in the UK it has to be fabric. The three rooms are all perfect sizes and the sound system is amazing to be in control of. Primarily though the lineups are always really diverse, so there is often a melting pot of people there with different tastes in music. For us that’s great as it allows us to play things we wouldn’t necessarily be able to get away with playing elsewhere.
Any other live shows you’re looking forward to?
We’ve spent the best part of the last year touring quite a lot, especially in North America. So for the rest of the year we made it clear we wanted to scale back on playing shows and dedicate time to making music and developing our DJ sets. Having said that we’re heading out to India in December for three shows which promises to be a fascinating trip.
What else should people be looking out for in the future?
In terms of new music we will have a couple of new remixes emerging over the coming months, as well as some exciting collaboration projects that we are right in the middle of at the moment. As usual we like to keep these things under wraps until they’re finished but hopefully it won’t be too long until the public hears about them!
Koan Sound’s latest EP ‘The Adventures of Mr Fox’ is out now via Skrillex’s label, OWSLA. You can listen to Brackles’ mix from the last interview here.Tagged in: coki, Dubstep, Koan Sound, Reso, Skrillex, Vex'd
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