Kinky hardware: Catching Up With KiNK
KiNK has become one of the most exciting live acts on the scene. The Bulgarian’s obsession with gadgets, machines, controllers and other sound equipment make for something properly unique and a must-see on the circuit. Parallel to his live shows and DJ sets, sits an increased demand for his skills as a producer / remixer. We were lucky enough to sit him down to chat about his busy career, the scene in Sofia and his new release on Midnight Shift
Thank you very much for chatting us! Tell us a bit about your new release on Midnight Shift and the production that went into the record. What kind of hardware / software were you using?
Well the title track is called ‘Chorus’ and basically one day I purchased an analog chorus pedal (a guitar effect) and I was just testing it and I had to play some sort of sound through it so I used a digital synthesizer from my computer, ran the synthesizer through the chorus effect and I quite liked the result! So I recorded it and that’s how the track came along… And then I named it chorus. All of the tracks on the release are made with software and hardware, I like any kind of technology, I’m not a purist. So I arranged everything in Ableton but, as I mentioned, I run some of the synthesizers through analog pedals. I mixed it with an analog mixer, I also used some hardwear synths on the other tracks too. Basically, yeah I like to use everything possible, it would be stupid to limit yourself!
The release is also coming out on vinyl as well. As an artist, is it still important for you to have your music released on vinyl too?
I like any platform. When I DJ, I love to play digital because the current technology allows you to almost play live when you play digitally. But also when you use vinyl, the format also makes you play differently. You have to be more focused on selection than you do at home because you cannot bring 1000 records with you. So I like to cover all of these formats, when you play digitally it makes you play one way and when you play on vinyl you can be creative differently. Also vinyl is also kind of like your business cards. So yes for me it’s very important but that doesn’t mean that I don’t also appreciate the digital format. I think as artists we have to be able to deliver to all DJs, we rely on the DJs so we need to be able to provide lots of different formats.
So, tell us about your live sets – They have made you a definite must-see on the circuit…
It’s funny, now I’m recognized as a successful live act but years ago when I started I didn’t want to do it. I just tried it because I wanted to play a little bit more and there was good market for live acts because at the time, years ago there wasn’t such a big selection of electronic music live acts. I gave it a chance and after a while I realized that I made a really good decision. I see nowadays that the technology is so developed and I think the border between doing a DJ set and playing live is very thin nowadays. So I’m really happy that I took the step. But yeah I think that my success in the live sets, whilst there must be a technical explanation, is because I really enjoy doing it and when I’m on stage I feel like I’m together with friends and we are just jamming together and I think that people feel that same energy and I think that’s why it’s working so well.
So these days would you rather spend a day in the studio or touring around playing gigs?
I love to play and be on stage, the only problem is that often there’s lack of sleep and I lose so many hours and hours travelling so if we could invent a teleportation process very soon that would be amazing… ha ha. I would love to be in the studio all day and then go on stage and play in the evenings. I love both, I can’t pick one over the other.
Where can we catch you playing next?
Tonight, I’m playing in Germany in Heidelberg. I’m here for the second time (from what I can remember). I played for friends, they booked me tonight. Tomorrow I play a very special gig in London. It’s an event called we concur and for the first time ever I’ll be playing 6 hours, ill be playing all night long – just me. It’s pretty much going to be a live set, I’m going to DJ for the first 1 ½ hours just to warm up. It’s a pretty adventurous idea and please cross your fingers for me! 6 hours, especially for a live set, is a long time! It’s probably going to be about 4/5 hours live and 1 hour DJing – something like this. It’s going to be intense! I’m scared but also excited.
How much planning goes into that kind of extended set?
Erm, I’m not very good at planning. Of course I did my homework. I spend my energy in developing the technology that allows me to play, I don’t really plan musically that much. I try to do it spontaneously on stage. The time goes into fixing tech problems in the studio, finding ways to improvise, finding ways to play and then the actual playing is happening without that much planning.
So you’re based in Sofia in Bulgaria, what’s the music scene like over there right now?
The music scene was really really amazing in the 90s. It was a big phenomenon, Bulgaria was one of the countries to go to in the 90s when we speak about electronic music. But now there is a change in the generations and right now the scene is not that strong. But I feel very positive about it because I see a lot of really young kids now getting into music production and DJing because now with the internet, information is available everywhere and everything is so much more affordable. You don’t need to make loads of money to rent a studio anymore. So I think that we will improve for sure, but right now it’s a transitional period where the scene’s not that interesting. Everything is a bit more commercial and more obvious but I do see a good future. Also in Bulgaria, everything is pretty relaxed and easy in terms of licenses in the clubs so we can have a club night that goes on for 24 hours, it’s not that difficult compared to other countries.
Yeah exactly. But Sofia could easily become the next Berlin, time will tell of course. But I would love for that to happen.
What do you think about the London nightlife issues?
Yeah, It’s very sad about the situation with Fabric. However, they’re still doing events, not in the club but in other venues and I’m really happy that at the end of the year I’m going to be playing one of those events. But I really hope that the club will be able to reopen because if it disappears it’s really not a very good sign for the whole club culture in London. But I do feel positive about it and hope everything is going to go well.
I think we all do.. So what’s next for you?
I still have a busy month and after this I’m going to take some time off, I will try to work on an album. I have plans to start a label with a really good partner but we’ve been having business meetings for the last 4 years and we drink a lot of red wine and listen to music but so far the label still doesn’t exist..!
But now I’m going to have some time off, I think maybe we can find the time to push this project as well. So yeah, I hope next year I can come up with a new album and a fresh live show. I also have a side-project called ‘Cyrillic’ – like the alphabet we use in Bulgaria. So far this project is kind of secret, I don’t have any records out, the sound is pure techno, it’s very basic, it’s very minimal. At the moment it’s sort of just a hybrid live and DJ show and for some strange reason I already have a lot of good bookings without having any social media presence or any records out but because I already do good gigs, I’ve already played Berghain and Dekmantel with this project I think I have to deliver some music because people are curious! So also I will try to be able to do that during my vacation, prepare more Cyrillic material. So yeah, quite a lot going on!
Yeah it sounds like it! Ok so last question, have you got any advice for the up-and-coming youngsters on the scene at the moment?
If they are patient enough, then things will happen for sure. It took so long for me to break through. I would talk to established artists and they were telling me that if your music is good enough, there is no chance that you won’t get noticed. I thought that was just talk, but eventually it worked for me. It took a bit longer than I wanted but it worked. People have to be very.. not necessarily patient.. but have to believe in this. It sounds like a cliché but it’s true! Also, something very important nowadays is that every skill is important. If you’re a good graphic designer or a singer or whatever, anything secondary can add to your profile. Nowadays we are the new rockstars in electronic music so also having some kind of identity and personality is also a key element. In my case I guess people see someone who is very technical, very into machines and gadgets and I guess that’s my identity. I think it’s important for each artist to find their own, so that’s my advice.