Gloomy, mysterious and often uncatchable, the music of Konvex and the Shadow, KATS for short, is a distribution of darkness and light. In its studios, KATS collects sound takes, carves the matter, composes and decomposes each sound to create a personal and unique music, a music constantly looking for “human error”, perceived as essential for the creation of grooves and surprises. This part of darkness gives to KATS’s project a way to put things in perspective and allow it to stand the test of time. A&R man Simon Huxtable caught up with them in the South of France for a chat about the new single, their unique sound and buying music in the old days.
Hi there, thanks for finding the time to chat with us at Decoded Magazine. Hows your day been so far?
Hello Decoded, It’s a busy day today (like everyday though haha). I’m finilasing a new remix I have done with my mates from Melokolektiv for a French Pop Singer called Kid Francescoli. This project has taken me so much time, I’m really happy to finish it.
We always like to start at the beginning, so can you tell us about the early years of learning to produce with analog gear. What equipment did you have and what got you into music to start with?
I started to listen and produce Hip Hop and Drum’n’Bass. In 2000, I went to an after club called “Barlive” in Montpellier. This is where I have discovered deep house and techno music. I started to produce with only analog gear such as a Jomox Xbase 09 drum machine, a Caldorse Pulse analog synth, a sampler and a Yamaha RM1X sequencer.
We understand you’re influenced by psychedelic sounds. Who were the artists that shaped you musical interests?
I was a huge fan of Kompakt recordings and their core artists such as Superpitcher, Michael Mayer, Kollektiv Turmstrasse and Coddec & Flexor. I also liked Bpitch control and more particularly Sascha Funke and Paul Kalkbrenner. Later, I have discovered Pantha du Prince and Dynamic crew with Solomum. These artists were really exiting.
Tell us about the KATS sound. Like James Holden, you share a liking for adding uniqueness to your grooves.
I wanted this project to be different. Nowadays, there are many producers using Loopmasters, Sounds to Sample or Beaport sample banks. They all have the same sound and groove. When I’m creating my music, I record each element at home or in my studio to make our track more human, less straight and original. If you only knew how I recorded most of the elements of my latest EP “Shooting Star”, you would be surprised. For instance, the kick drum has been recorded on a grand piano by touching the sustain pedal or for the high hat groove, I have recorded my friend Rodeol who was hitting his stomach with drumsticks.
Thats pretty cool! Whats the French scene like now?
I would say that we don’t have many clubs there which take artistic risk all year long. La Dame Noir in Marseille is one of these clubs where I really like to play. They have a clear artistic vision and their own universe. However, during summertime, the South of France is becoming one of the most exciting places in Europe. We have many outdoor festivals and parties, which take place in wonderful places like Kolorz, Resonance Festival, Eldorado Circus Show, Tohu Bohu…
What was the biggest difference you noticed about DJing abroad compared to your normal French crowds?
There is not so much of a difference even when I take more risks if I’m DJing in a city like Berlin for instance. I can play slower music, and having more freedom. In South of France, most of the clubs have a techno orientated crowds even if there are some places like La Dame Noir or in our proper event with my Crew Azzur in Avignon where it’s possible to play deeper music.
So we know you learned your studio craft on hardware, but do you still use them, or have you moved towards a digital platform?
Our production process is now nearly entirely digital. Digital tools have improved so much in the last few years. With my current plugs, it is possible to have a sound as versatile as hardware gear. The only difference now, is that it’s now possible to concentrate everything in one computer.
Your first release was on the mighty Get Physical, and your new track – Shooting Star comes out with Off Recordings. Tell us about the process for getting your music signed?
For my release on Get Physical, we have sent our demo through to Matt who is the artistic director. For OFF recordings it has been different. I sent my music to my mate Guillaume from Melokolektiv who is working as A&R for OFF recordings. After several emails and skype meetings, Andre Crom and him invited me to join OFF recordings family. They have been changing radically the artistic direction of the label and my music was fitting perfectly. It’s really exiting to be part of this family, which has a new challenge.
Which aspect of dance music do you prefer and why? DJing or producing.
I like both universes. Producing my music without having the possibility to share it live, would be so frustrating. I like to be around a coffee in the morning with my partner Rodeol (The Shadow) in his studio recording many sounds and creating a new track. But I also really like to dig unknown weapons and play them live.
Your profile is really starting to take off this year. Recently Andre Crom stated you were one to watch in 2015. Who has caught your attention this year?
I really like what we are creating with OFF recordings and particularly the upcoming releases from Melokolektiv, Darlyn Vlys and Andre Crom. I also really think that Ruede Hagelstein, The Drifter or my good friend Stan Ritch are going to be the mens of 2015.
Whats your current top 10?
1.Of Norway – Spirit Lights (Lehar remix)
2. Herbert – Her face
3. Superloundge feat Forrest – Counting Days (Timelapse & Manent remix)
4. Kurt Baggaley – Former Self (The Drifter remix)
5. Donato Gozi – Gol
6. Human Machine – Polymorphisme
7. Pentatones – Karma Game (Steve Bug remix)
8. Manuel Moreno, Mario Aureo – Sensibility (Gorge Remix)
9. Konvex & the Shadow, Melokolektiv – Reflection
10. Butch – The Spirit (Adriatique 7am remix)
Charts on online music sites now provide valuable information for the millions of music buyers out there. Do you think the process of buying music digitally has taken away from the culture of the physical record store?
Yes I really think that 90% of people are now buying their music online even if they buy vinyls. It’s sad. We had a really good vinyl shop in Montpellier called “Les Pingouins” where it was possible to meet others DJs and producers, to spend some good times around a coffee or a beer. Disk sellers knew the taste of every regular customer and would prepare you a personal selection without regarding global sells. It was a great period. Now, people are downloading hundreds of files. I also do it. It has lost a bit of its magic.
Finally, hows the rest of the year shaping up for you?
I have a new remix coming soon on OFF recordings for Kid Francescoli and his love song called Blow Up. This track is a pop/love song, which has been released one year ago. With my mates from Melokolektiv we have given a club aspect to this track. I also have a collaboration with Throb Circle and Jinadu coming later. It’s still in progress.