Kilter On Live Shows Versus DJ Sets

Written By Zanda Wilson on 10/27/2015
Image: Facebook

Image: Facebook

Ned East is Kilter - a supremely talented drummer and live hardware master. Last year Kilter released his debut EP Shades and embarked on what turned out to be an immense debut national tour. Since then he’s released a couple of singles and some remixes, is about to support the kings of Aussie electro Hermitude and has been announced on the lineup for Australia's first boat festival Sea N' Beats.

We caught up with Ned to chat about what it’s like getting covered in UV paint, when there’ll be some new Kilter original tracks surfacing, and why, unlike most producers around, you won’t find a laptop near his live show anytime soon.

A Video was released a little while ago for Coward that featured you in it covered in UV paint. Although this didn’t end up being the official video for that song, what was it like to film it and be in your own video?
The guys from Tag Collective did an amazing job with it but by the time it came to releasing it, it was quite late in the roll-out plan for the single, so unfortunately it didn’t get an official release with us. But the boys have chucked it up on Vimeo for those who are looking for it. It’s actually pretty funny isn’t it, that it’s unofficial yet it’s the only one I’m actually in. Filming it was really fun; I wasn’t actually on set for the bush part of the clip. But for the interior glowing stuff we just covered me in fluro paint and got these drums and covered them in fluro paint. They got me in a room with UV lights smacking them. It looked awesome, really tribal and crazy, and everything just got absolutely covered. The walls were splattered, my clothes were fucked. Everything was just glowing blue by the end of it. Everyone had a good time, and it was probably something I’ll be interested in doing again, maybe with less paint. It was the first time I’d had my make-up done too.

We haven’t heard a whole heap from you for the past little while. What have you been up to recently?
It’s been quite a while actually. Want To (featuring Porches) was four or five months ago. Since then I’ve done a remix of Father Dude. I’ve got a lot of tracks on the boil, almost finished. I’ve got a new remix that will come out soon for Autograf, out of the US. Some originals that are kind of just sitting around the 80% mark that I’m working on now, trying to get them over the line. It’s 100% my only real commitment right now is trying to get new Kilter originals out because it has been a little while, and I’m really itchy to get another release done.

The Sea N Beats line-up is pretty impressive. What do you think that a new festival like this is going to offer fans?
Well I was actually thinking about this - I think an interesting thing about it is that it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be much green tape, like artists on one side of the barrier and punters on the other. We’re all going to be staying on the boat for the four days that the festival’s on and it’s not as if we’re going to be refined to our cabins. I’m planning on seeing a whole lot of music and getting amongst everything. Hopefully there’s a lot of artist/band interaction which will be really fun, and everyone just gets along and has a good time.

It looks like it’s going to be a real who’s who of up-and-coming Aussie music.
There’s only two internationals, which is pretty crazy for a whole festival just to be run off the back of Aussie talent. That’s a testament to how amazing the Aussie scene is at the moment.

Can we expect any other shows for the rest of the year? What are your plans looking ahead to 2016?
Yeah I’ve got a couple of really exciting things for the rest of the year. I’m doing two dates with Hermitude at Hordern and at Palace in Melbourne. They’re going to be big shows, five thousand heads, all ages gigs. I’ve never done anything like that before, I think i've only played a couple of all ages shows so that’ll be really exciting. The Hermitude guys just bring such a party to the show so they’ll be great. Doing another festival called This That, and doing South Bound over New Year’s which will be great, back for the second time because last year was a good time. And trying to get a couple of new tracks over the line, performing them live for the first time.

You’ve really set the benchmark for producers playing live shows over the past couple of years. Now we’ve got lots of DJs and producers looking to move into using more hardware in their live sets (Cosmo’s Midnight just debuted their live set a few weeks back). For you, what’s the value of bringing those aspects of your songs into a live setting?
I think it’s very important to have an engaging performance, especially as a producer and artists like myself and like Cosmo’s Midnight. Your show is to showcase your music; people go to a Kilter show to hear Kilter music rather than a DJ set where you pitch more of a tastemaker experience. For example I saw Dusky play recently and they’re up there with some of the best DJs in the world, not necessarily because of their own music but because of their track selection, the journey they take you through a show. That’s what a DJ set really brings to the table whereas I think a live show as a solo artist is an incredibly important part of showing your music to a crowd and its awesome to see more people embracing live shows, moving away from button pushing, Ableton. Cosmo’s Midnight had a bunch of synthesisers, Sable for example having the big blow-up Saybot…

Yeah he’s amazing, he must be such an awesome nerd to think of all that stuff and get it up on stage!
Yeah John does mechanical engineering or something so he’s a very smart dude and makes incredible music. I was at OutsideIn as well, when he makes his split set go evil… It’s sick that everyone’s putting more thought into live shows. I’ve been doing live shows for a quite a while but kind of out of necessity. I don’t really know how to DJ and I’ve been playing drums and keys for a while. So for me that was the easiest way to perform. Whereas a lot of the other guys… I know Cosmo’s Midnight had to give themselves a bit of a kick to get that show on the road after being comfortable with the Ableton set-up. It’s definitely about putting yourself out there but it’s really rewarding and I wouldn’t do it any other way.

What’s your go-to piece of hardware in on a live gig?
At the moment my live show is all hardware which is interesting. It has its pros and cons. It’s awesome because the setup time is really slow and it’s really reliable. I run most of my live show off a Roland XP 404, and that’s a sampler. So all of my tracks and vocals will be all on there. Then there’s my SPD electronic drum pad, that’s my favourite part because I’m a drummer it’s just fun to jam on. So I fill that with percussion and bass sounds and lead sounds, pretty much anything you can put in it to hit. The last piece of gear is a micro-korg, a toy synth, they’re only a couple of hundred dollars but they’re beasts. Everything just sounds so great out of them. No laptops at the moment although I’ve been toying with the idea, like I said before it’s really hard to give yourself a kick to do something and jump in the deep end. I’ve played this show so many times so it’s like second nature to me, but moving to a laptop introduces a whole 'nother world of problems to have to deal with. I’m sure I’ll get there one day but I’d need a bit of a kick.

What’s your favourite gig you’ve ever played?
Well I did a big tour last year where I did two shows at Oxford Art Factory and hard ticket shows across the country. That was the most rewarding because it was my first time stepping out from playing a weekly club night and actually selling hard tickets off the back of my music. My favourite performance though was Falls over New Year’s last year. They put me on at 11pm so I was kind of closing the electronic stage and La Roux was on the main stage outside. Luckily for me it was really cold and wet, so almost the entire twelve thousand person festival crammed into the dance stage for my set instead. It was crazy, such a good time. It was the night before New Year’s Eve so a great way to close the year off.

Who are you listening to at the moment?
The dude who I can’t go past at the moment is Mura Masa. He’s a young dude; I think he’s 19 from the UK. It’s just really beautiful intricate electronic music but it still thumps pretty hard. It’s got an Australian feel, in the sense that it has that hip-hop bass influence whilst still being organic and beautiful. He’s got a new single out so I would definitely recommend checking that out.

Kilter will play Sea 'N Beats, Australia's first boat festival, in March. Check out all the details here.