Here at Stamp The Wax, we very rarely encounter artists as magically talented as Melbourne-based, psychedelic-future-jazz producer Kirkis. Not only is he an unbelievable bass player and producer, he’s also a budding artist, having just spent time in Brooklyn NYC working on his craft. We first discovered Kirkis through a standalone single he dropped a few months ago called thesoftmachine, featuring angelic vocals from Hiatus Kaiyote backing vocalist Loreli, and has been getting love all over the world. That led us to his stunning self-released debut album Purplefruit for Xray Vision which dropped in March last year, and would sit comfortably alongside any Brainfeeder or Warp Records release. We got in contact with Kirkis after including him in our Ones To Watch for 2013 and he agreed to record a mix and answer a few questions. Read below, with the tracklist and free download on our Soundcloud.
So, aside from being a passionate artist, you’re an incredibly talented bass player and producer. How did you get started playing music/producing, and what instruments can you play?
I grew up with Perrin Moss (the drummer of Hiatus Kaiyote) from the age of 15 and I remember him getting his first MPC and I was totally hypnotized. So, from around 16, I had begun record collecting and attempting to sample things onto my computer. But it wasn’t until art school when I was living in this warehouse (which was a total haven for artists – it had this giant vagina installation on the ceiling) that I started playing bass. I became friends with this sculptor who gave me one of those build-your-own type basses that he had built. Actually, I think I kind of just took it. Sorry Mick. But yeah, I was totally obsessed. I wanted to be Jaco sooo bad back then, I ripped out all the frets. I wish I never did that, I’d love to play that bass again. I’m not one of those guys that has 5000 different basses either. Maann she was soooo sweeet. From there I started playing all the bass lines on loops that I would sample and make songs out of, and then came practicing to the best of Barry White every morning, which ultimately led to my deranged compositional things. On the new record that I’m currently writing, there are a few tracks where I’m playing everything, but mainly bass and a teeny bit of keys.
Do you mind people condensing the sound of your music into labels, like we did with “psychedelic-future-jazz”?
Titles don’t bother me too much, so long as they speak with some honesty to the music. I definitely think more adjectives should be used in the industry though. How about ‘surreal steroid puffpuff juice’? I dont know… I would hate to be labelled with one term throughout an entire career, like just a Jazz band, or just a Metal band. Change is good.
Your vibe wouldn’t be out of place on the Warp Records or Brainfeeder roster. Are you looking to get picked up by any of those sorts of labels or do you want to release everything independently?
Warp = nachos = very good, yet the independent route speaks nicely too. However I’m terrible at paperwork. To be honest, whoever decides to help people hear, it’s very okay with me.
We know you play live with a band. Tell us more about them and their contribution to Kirkis.
Well the band consists of Luke Saunders on keys and synths, Simon Mavin on keys and synths and Leigh Fisher on drums and electronics. Luke and Leigh definitely contribute a bit to the writing process in Kirkis. For example, in writing this new record, I’ll send Leigh a harmonic idea that I put together, he’ll play an interpretation and we’ll send it back and forth and likewise with Luke. It’s totally abnormal. I am trying to maximise their input within the compositional forms that I build, to make it as much into their composition as it is mine – and that translates live too. I don’t think I have met someone who knows my brain musically quite like Leigh. It’s a total blessing working with that guy.
You contributed a remix to Hiatus Kaiyote’s remix album, you’ve had a few bass lessons from Paul Bender, and Laura Christoforidis (Loreli) sang on your latest track thesoftmachine. How do you know all the Kaiyote crew?
Nai Nai is like a little sister and Simon is like my lost synth dreamer Gemini. Those guys are total family. Prior to their eviction notice last year, there was this infamous house known to almost every muso in Melbourne as ‘Clarke St’. This ridiculous Metal bassist called Nick Delaney, Simon Mavin, and a whole bunch of heavy Jazz and session guys lived there. It was notorious for the 24-hour jams and late night parlays. It wasn’t until Perrin Moss and Paul Bender moved in there that the circle became so tight. They started Hiatus Kaiyote around that time, and then love blossomed with every little noodle who had a palate for good ear food.
What do you think it is about the Melbourne scene that is producing so many incredible talents?
I really have no idea. There are a lot of us creative types feeding off each other here.
As an artist and a musician, do you find the creative experience going on in your head when you’re making art and writing music similar at all? Or are they entirely different things for you?
I’ve been trying to converge the two for some time now, but they are definitely two realms when it comes to the process. I think this year is the year that they meet at a halfway point. I’m working on something special.
What were your favourite three tracks of the last year?
1. Tame Impala – Elephant
2. I’m not sure if this came out last year, but TISA – Rad America.
3. The entirety of Robert Glasper’s Black Radio.
If you could be reborn as any artist (musician) since the dawn of time, who and why?
Probably a tie between Melvin Van Peebles and The Shaggs.
Give us three artists you think we should keep any eye on in 2013?
Well you know about Hiatus, so I’m gonna say;
Tell us more about the mix you’ve made for us and the other artists you’ve featured on it?
It didnt take me long to realise that I have A LOT of B-Side electronic stuff just floating around on my desktop, and utilising it with the combination of a Caldera song and two Clever Austin tracks seemed like 50 shades of Xanex.
What is in store for you this year? Any international dates and releases? Any more collabs with Loreli in the pipeline?
Collabing with Loreli is almost 100% certain. We live together and she is my partner in being a surreal take on Frank and Estelle Costanza. She’s awesome. Thus far this year has a new Kirkis record in late March to early April. No international dates yet, but wouldn’t say no to meeting Kate Moss and Peaches Geldof at Glastonbury.
Thank you Stamp The Wax.