Words: Laura Turnbull | Header Image: Nicholas Cooper
If the experimental synth-pop of Grimes and Lykke Li top your listening lists, Kitzl has some otherworldly electronics just for you. This spring, the Canadian composer released debut album ‘40 Moons That We Know Of‘, a tech-mystical treat for your ears featuring lead single ‘Wizard Girls‘ and some truly magical vocals. We caught up with Kitzl to Q&A our way into the headspace behind the music.
Laura: Hi Kitzl, your new album, ’40 Moons That We Know Of’ feels like a synth’s response to the question of life, meaning, the universe and everything in it. It’s sci-fi futurism and ancient mythology rolled into one. Was its creation a labour of love or did it arrive in a lightning bolt?
Kitzl: I love the sound of that, thanks! I think it was definitely a labour of love. I fought with some of the tracks a lot, and others came together pretty easy. It was a very exploratory project for me. I was learning a lot as I went and just playing with sounds with no rules.
Laura: I love your use of field recordings on the album. The percussive noises in ‘Darkbelle‘ sound as if they came from a really melodic dustbin lid. How do you find them all?
Kitzl: It seems like it would be a lot of work but pretty much all the samples used on that album I got in a day or two of being on a sound collecting mission. I go around town, around my home, outside and just hit and smack anything. It’s really fun. Then you can do so much processing with each sound later that you don’t actually need a ton of different samples to work with. I find less is more, otherwise the sample library becomes overwhelming. I really want to go somewhere tropical and sample some wildlife soon.
Laura: You talk about your love of soundtrack music leading you towards electronic music production, which is a path that many producers seem to explore – in the last few years musicians like Mica Levi and The Haxan Cloak have swapped decks and club sound systems for scoring for the cinema screen. Is that a direction you’d like to head in? What kind of film would you want to write for?
Kitzl: I would still love to do that, but alongside what I’m doing now. I feel like I’m just getting started with this stuff and I have so many plans for my next projects. I think I’d have fun writing for documentaries. Maybe about space, oceans, wildlife. It’s the kind of stuff I picture when I’m writing so i guess it seems obvious. But otherwise, any cool/weird film or video game that would let me really experiment with the instrumentation.
Laura: On the subject of space…If you were an astronaut stuck in orbit, what album would you want on repeat?
Kitzl: Probably Bon Iver‘s latest: ‘22, A Million‘. It’s so beautiful.
Laura: Best film soundtrack?
Kitzl: One film that made me want to do soundtrack work when I was little was A Series of Unfortunate Events. It wasn’t like stuff I had heard in “kids” movies before and it opened my eyes. I still love that movie, haha. Also there is an indie game company called Amanita Design and their soundtrack music is so cool. I absolutely loved the Botanicula soundtrack.
Laura: Talking botanicals, what kind of music are your houseplants into?
Kitzl: I’m not sure because anytime I have a personal plant I accidentally kill it. I’m the worst. I once read that plants like heavy metal!
Have a listen to lead single ‘Wizard Girls‘ from Kitzl‘s debut album:
Laura: Your music feels subterranean and otherworldly, like some kind of strange dream. Do you write at night?
Kitzl: Yup, it’s 5am right now and I have been writing all night! I did start going to sleep earlier once [‘40 Moons We Know Of‘] was released, but now I’m working on the next stuff and my sleep schedule is getting F’d again.
Laura: Saved my gear nerd question for last: What’s your fave piece of hardware? Do you try to keep you live set-up minimal? And do you feel like you spend your whole life lugging equipment to various locations and praying your laptop doesn’t die?
Kitzl: My live-set up is definitely not minimal, but I wish it was. I produced the album and then had to figure out how to play it live, so I had to acquire a ton of gear over the last year. I love Maschine by Native Instruments. That’s what I use to compose the base of most songs, and what enables me to do them live by myself.
That question is spot-on, how did you know?
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