Written by: Adam St. Simons | Photo(s) by: Andrin Fretz
Artist Spotlight: Kerala Dust [Interview]
I believe the spirit of rock and rock to be a very elusive and ineffable thing – more of a sensation or lived experience than a style or genre, per se. Artists who have genuinely developed the ability to channel it… well, I believe them to be few and far between. There’s sadly a lot of posturing out there and our culture’s hyper-commercialization only exasperates it. “Rebelliousness” has long become fashionable and, as such, is more often than not contrived.
But when a band that’s truly tapped-in gets on stage, plugs in, and opens themselves up to becoming a conduit for this familiar experience that so many of us crave, you simply can’t deny it. You submit to the hypnotic incantation being cast upon you through electronic signals and amplifiers, and you allow yourself to become completely absorbed in the moment. It’s a high unlike any other.
Kerala Dust are one of these bands. Originally formed in London and now based in Berlin, they’ve tapped into something truly unique and ineffable with their music. Comprised of members Edmund Kenny (vocals/electronics), Harvey Grant (keys), Pascal Karier (drums), and Lawrence Howarth (guitar), Kerala Dust are currently touring the US in support of their latest full-length album – Violet Drive – and will be performing at Soundwell this Sunday night.
We caught up with Edmund Kenny to discuss the band, the new album, and their current tour. Q&A below.
Adam: I’ve been a Kerala Dust fan since I first heard “Nevada” back when it was released in 2017. That track really opened me up to deep house and the related sounds that were coming out of the playa at the time. How would you describe your music and this genre/scene to someone who has never heard it before?
Edmund: Thank you! The release of Nevada feels like a really long time ago now, and we’ve been moving in a direction that’s much more influenced by alternative rock & psychedelic rock, but a journalist once described the sound as ‘afterhours psychedelic rock for nightclubs’ which I though was a pretty appropriate description!
Adam: Can you tell us about your latest release – Violet Drive – and the story behind it?
Edmund: We wanted to make an album that sounded like a roadtrip through our native Europe. The album before it ‘Light, West’ was heavily inspired by journeys through the American West and the desert, so for Violet Drive we were looking closer to home.
Adam: How do you approach your creative/writing process?
Edmund: It usually starts with something really simple, like a loop or a melody, a sample or an idea for a lyric. Then it’s a question of building a story around that simple idea that supports it and lets it evolve into something bigger until it becomes a finished song.
Adam: How has your sound evolved and/or refined through the years leading up to Violet Drive?
Edmund: In recent years, we moved away from electronic percussion and became fascinated by drums, which has been a really interesting musical journey that we’re definitely still on. It feels very natural to us – as fans of old rock music with modern tools, combining electronic instruments with acoustic drums has become a defining feature of Violet Drive.
Adam: How has the tour been and what’s been your experience in getting to witness your music reach wider audiences?
Edmund: It’s been amazing! We’ve been on the road for almost three months now, playing Violet Drive out for the first time. As musicians, it’s never quite clear how a new album is going to be received, so it’s been incredibly affirming to get such a great response. We also work on ideas during sound checks and time off so we’re quite excited to back into the studio when we have time!
Adam: The first time I saw Kerala Dust live was at The Compass stage at Lightning In A Bottle. It was a late-night set and one of the sexiest dance floor moments I’ve ever experienced. Do you find that your audiences always get down like that at your shows?
Edmund: That was a great night! Every country and every show is completely different. There are some places where people go crazy and dance, and we love that, and then there are some places where people also just stand more, listening closely. Both are equally great, sometimes it’s just the way the energy unfolds on a particular night. We don’t try to expect a certain reaction from the crowd, in fact we follow their lead.
Adam: What’s been your favorite festival gig of your career and why?
Edmund: There’s a festival a few hours outside of Berlin called Fusion that is our favourite place to play. 80,000 people turn up and it’s kind of an escapist utopia. We’ve played there three times before, and will be playing again!
Adam: Can you tell us about any exciting upcoming projects you have in the works?
Edmund: Right now we’re just touring the new album, trying to get to as many places as possible! We’ve got some amazing new countries lined up that we can’t quite talk about yet. We’ve also got a big studio block coming in later in the year, so we can get all these touring experiences put into new music.
You can get tickets to see Kerala Dust at Soundwell this Sunday, May 7th here.
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