Interview: Ivana Sataić & Darija Šimunov
Assistance: Lidija Kovač
Kris Kylven is in some music circles in Croatia the most well known as ex-Killing Joke drummer. But, Kris Kylven is in the same time one of the best electro DJ’s in Europe. He consider himself as an electronic painter, constantly tries to bring live shows and various avant-garde concepts. In last 10 years Kris Kylven produced many albums and has been involved in many projects and this year he appeared on Halloween Festival in Zagreb as one of three DJs. Then we talked with Kris for Venia-Mag, check below what was the subject!
VENIA: You are in Croatia for the first time. Share with us your impressions.
KRIS: What can I say? Very nice city, I like the city very much, the old part is very interesting and very inspiring and it looks nice. It feels a bit like Italy, more like old school Mediterranean style, not all but still in that style. I like that kind of cities with all those houses and churches, its looks nice.
VENIA: To major audience you are known as a drummer of Killing Joke. How long is your DJ career and how it started?
KRIS: I was already DJ when I was 17 or 18. I was DJ-ing in the small club in the south of France. I was playing stuff like Iggy Pop, you know kind of more rock and bit of early electronic stuff anyway. But after that I went DJ-ing because… in the early 90′s I had a shop in Paris and it was the beginning of techno so I was importing techno records. So then 3 days a week I was mixing and started over there basically. And then after that I was stopped and went to London and make some techno or trance or whatever and it came after by the fact that people couldn’t afford to get the gig because it was quite expensive in the time when we were doing because it was like electronic drums and many stuff. Technically it was bigger kind of party so I decided to be DJ. So they asked me to play my own stuff but it was bored to play only my own stuff because surely I had a lot of music coming from different artist, music that wasn’t released yet. That was interesting. So that’s how we came basically, I think it was about… I don’t know… about 10 years maybe since I started playing parties. I played a lot of parties; I don’t know… hundreds of parties. Hundreds of flyers, I told you I keep the one every time I play. More then 500 hundreds. That’s how we came. From the fact people couldn’t afford the gig and asked me to play as DJ.
VENIA: As a DJ, which songs are the most interesting to you to remix? Do you have special criteria for that?
KRIS: I have to… if I can’t see what I can do. If there is a band or a song I can’t remix I know. And I’m not gonna do it because I know I’m not gonna be able to. Sometimes I did mistakes when I talked to some people: maybe I can do the remix of that one. With The 69 Eyes, actually, there was like five songs, they gave me five and I haven’t been able to really make it the good way and I don’t want to destroy the original, especially with the band. For the other thing I want to produce as many because I like the songs and I just remix them, I like the old school stuff I’ve been remixing. I have to like it or see if I can do it. But I haven’t some other criteria, it could be whatever… type of music if I feel it. If I feel the song it’s gonna work, that’s question of feeling. If you feel something when you listen to it, that’s it.
VENIA: You are DJ-ing all over Europe, and you lived in London for some time. In your opinion what are similarities and differences between scenes in Paris, London, Helsinki, Budapest and Zagreb?
KRIS: Helsinki is good because you can play whatever. In Finland they are very open, in one set I can play rock, break-bit, techno and whatever it’s gonna work. In London it has to be kind of full-long, not that full-long but let’s say also some more chill out. In London actually more in the main rooms, live in the main rooms not DJ so much in London. But places like Japan and also Germany, they really wants full of times, set all night. So I don’t know… Budapest was very strange because they didn’t give me any direction of what the party is gonna be so I was like trying to figure it out what people wanted so I started to play some more gothic rock stuff but it didn’t work much then I went to some kind of electro class and stuff like that but it didn’t work much either so I started with EBM, old school EBM, more electronic sound like I played here, it worked very well. I didn’t know because they talk about Gothic party over there, Gothic and EBM is a bit different, those are different things. But I think now the new generation put it together and they can’t know the difference between the two but there is a big difference so when I asked the guy who organized what is your party about, what can I play he said: “I don’t know, play what you want”, so I didn’t know much. But he knew because the DJ from there who came to play after me played strictly electronic stuff and I could done it very well if I’ve been playing only electronic stuff.
VENIA: You cooperated with The 69 Eyes on their albums “Paris Kills” and “Devils”. How is to work with them and can we expect some other aspect of cooperation?
KRIS: The thing is like for “Paris Kills” I’ve done three remixes for “Stigmata”. They’ve use it quite well because one of those remixes was kind of movie stuff so they use it on the beginning of the gigs and then they use it on the DVD menu and remixes are doing very well because they were licensing everywhere. When they started to do “Devils” they borrowed me those five, because they like anyway what I did with “Stigmata” remixes and said: we have the song “Sister of Charity”… so they asked me to make, to try to make some programming or whatever. So I did, all the violins and all the stuff and the idea was actually mixing the kind of Enigma stuff because it is, if you hear the song with violin and stuff and Gregorian chants and everything, that’s all coming from Enigma. That’s where I took the idea from. And there was a bit from ” Justify My Love” – Madonna, that’s from where I took the idea, you know and it works very well.
Then I was going to Japan, they were talking of giving me some writing credit and I was on tour so I get the news on that one when I get back that I I’m lost at the artwork on the album that I got one month after the release party. So I said: ‘Ok’ I’m not gonna be involved in any original songs anymore. I can do remixes but I don’t wanna do any original songs because that wasn’t very fair. But anyway, I didn’t want to start to war, I just let it go. But the thing is I’ll be involved only in remixes and nothing with original stuff anymore because of that. I’m not involved in the process of the album. ‘Just went to the studio few times for some backing vocals, that’s it.
VENIA: Talking of your co-operation with The 69 Eyes what can you tell us about your band/project with Archzie and Jan from Amorphis? It’s interesting to see rock guys as Archzie and Jan in electronic project.
KRIS: Jan is my old school friend; I mean four of my remixes have been engineering by him. By Jan. It was with him I did mixing and everything so he knew those stuff and he is in electronic music, Jan, the drummer of Amorphis. He has a side project with those pretty much progressive rock mix with electronic or break beats or whatever. He’s got a lot of different kind of project. And Archzie. He came to my place to jam so many times and he likes actually to jam on the top of electro stuff because he likes many different types of bands. I think Archzie was… I mean it would be ok for now to do the DJ band thing, that’s what we are supposed to do, but I think Archzie was, last time I saw him he was more interesting about making a real band where we can do a real electronic stuff. I mean not remixes but our own songs. That’s good because I want to start my own band anyway. Those people are very open; Archzie is very open with electronic so it’s not a big problem because they’re known what I’m doing.
VENIA: You are born in France, you have exotic roots and you live in Finland. Which languages do you speak?
KRIS: French and bad English.
VENIA: Is it possible in music industry to have a good friends and how do you handle with a huge number of new faces you meet every day?
KRIS: Yeah. I get along with the people so I have no problem. For sure there are some guys in music industry with who I don’t talk or whatever but the thing is… I think Finland is quite good for that because, actually, all the guys hang in the same bars or whatever so… Finnish people hates when you not talking with them or something so you just get along with the people.
VENIA: In Croatia are sometimes strong negative tensions between people who prefer electro music and those who are dedicated strictly to post punk and old school Gothic. You succeeded to find a balance between. How do you look on this scene, do you separate it?
KRIS: EBM music you can put in the “Terminator”. If you put it in the “Terminator” movie it works very well. But put that music in “The Crow”. It doesn’t work. So, the music you could put in “The Crow” is Gothic. The music you could put in the “Terminator” is cyber/ebm. This is how you can explain that. I think movies are a good example. It’s very a difficult to put EBM in a type of Gothic stuff. I’m Gothic in hart and I love EBM so I have no problems with that.
VENIA: In short notes tell us something about your other current music projects.
KRIS: I have this Kris Kylven & Syb-Sonic chill-out side project. It’s more like bring old world music basically different things from different countries like tribes or whatever. And then… that was the old concept mix with electronic something like deep forest as Enigma was doing but a bit darker and longer songs, about 10-12 mintues. But now I’ve been asked for an album and I think the next album is going to be more with female vocals and stuff like that. Maybe more commercial but still with the same approach and maybe even more clean songs and more sparkling, you know. Then I have this project of Dismoto, one signer from Denmark, we are in contact over Net for 6 years or something and we tried to work together but it was hard because he was in Denmark. He sent me his files and I don’t know, the songs I had were more instrumental, they are meant to be instrumentals but when he put vocals was ok but kind of difficult to really fitting together. Then we had a lot of space and we talk again and he sent me some files of electro/techno project and the same thing didn’t go anywhere. So this year we met on the Net again and I sent him 5 of my demos, he sent me the vocals, in the end it was really good, very nice. So I’ve decided to go to complete album with him. It’s gonna be interesting industrial/electro stuff and one of the things I wanted to do in one of the projects. Every project I trying to do is something I like, some style I like and I’m trying to, like a kid, to have it for myself and do it a right way, that’s really exiting. This is something we really like, the music, it’s like our personal thing. Everything is quite open. Maybe we can do gigs. He’s well drummer, he remixes his own stuff as well. He’s doing very different type of project like from kind of really weird blues to… he produces hip-hop bands and electro stuff. He’s got a French singer, that’s really good. Everything’s he’s producing is very interesting.
Then I’m gonna have this project with my band. It’s gonna be too difficult to promoters to book us but I gonna have my own band. I don’t know the name yet, but it’s a project.
VENIA: How did you like the show here? Was it according to your expectations?
KRIS: It was nice, I liked it, yes. People were really into it. I don’t know, I mean there were two parties going on, the rock stuff and EBM style. But it was very well, good. I mean, it’s always like this when you play for the first time. Then the next time when you come here it’s higher. Like in Japan, first time you play in not that big places but next time you play in front of 5000 people. But the people here were moving on the music, I’m happiest if I can make a people move. I think the problem here is they actually don’t know everything is really going own outside. People here are not get used to see someone with special look, especially hair or clothes. They are shocked bit like. But it’s strange, it’s like in France in the end of the 80′s. And with the music, they have no idea how it works really. Coz outside if you’re booked as a DJ you have to play as a DJ, you’re not paid just to play songs, you have to keep people dancing on the floor all the time, that’s the way it is. Otherwise you’re dead. Actually, if you play a wrong song you’re dead. That’s how it goes. So I used to other things so I played that techno kind of stuff and it needs to take a time to be learn, not that commercial because the guy who played before me played that kind of commercial thing and stuff like that. I tried to make a space for something else, a dance floor party.
VENIA: In the end, let’s follow the cliché and give us some message for the people who would read this interview.
KRIS: It was nice to play and I really hope to come back and maybe play longer or have a more time to make people traveling through the set, through the music and teach them more stuff. That would be great. But I had a good time and I had fun, people are really cool.
VENIA: And how did you like your “babysitters”?
KRIS: You mean those two crazy ones? They had a good babysitting, really well. (everybody’s laughing)
VENIA: Would you recommend them for someone?
KRIS: Yeah, definitely. Very good treatment.