South London-based synthpop outfit Kimono Loco was born out of the coming together of four long-lost friends, namely: vocalist James Hofbauer, drummer Alejo Sonnenberg, guitarist Chris Godfrey and bassist Luke Hamlin. The band performed for the first time in a small west London pub in 2014, under the moniker Regions but soon became Kimono Loco after remoulding their sound into something that they felt suited them more. The band has since been going from strength to strength, performing at exciting events and shows, even supporting indie-pop quartet Corella at 93 Feet East, a famous London nightclub, in May 2018.
The band continue to develop and hone their undeniable skills as musicians, dabbling in all forms of sound; from indie-rock to new-wave, funk and dance to disco – all merged into constant conversation through their deeply-rooted pop sensibilities. Just this week Kimono Loco released a premiere of their latest single, titled ‘Big Boy’, an 80’s-inspired pop anthem with attitude.
Listen to ‘Big Boy’ by Kimono Loco below while you read the interview.
We caught up with the guys from Kimono Loco and found out more about the minds behind the synths.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
Each of us has a special relationship with music and pursuing it just seemed to be a no brainer. We consider ourselves ‘Poptamist’s’ – not looking to be too pretentious or intimate as we don’t think you need to take music too seriously.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
It tends to change every time, we’ve been really into the sounds of the 80’s recently and that’s definitely found its way into our new sound. However, an initial idea can totally shape a new song.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
Not at the moment but that’s something we’re open to.
What’s on your current playlist?
At the moment a lot of funk and disco throwbacks. Anything born in the 80’s gets an immediate spin from us. We’ve also been really into some of the tracks off the new Charlie Puth album ‘Voicenotes’.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
We’re super lucky that we have such supportive fans; I think this is why our gigs have a really fun atmosphere to them. We’re all about audience participation and it just works really well.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
We love our weird guitar sounds, the less it sounds like a guitar the better. James is also a fan of finding a way of putting in weird noises into the tracks. There’s this child’s scream that appears across the EP taken from a Spanish field recording, not sure why it ended up in the songs but we like it.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
Each day tends to be different depending on what you’re doing. It’s either a lot of waiting around or a lot of really intense recording. Being on the same team is also super important. You need to keep a positive vibe all the time or it’ll start to negatively impact the music. However most days in the studio just involve pretentious music chat, loads of coffee and even more cabin fever.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
We’ve definitely each had our own moment in our lives where we thought to ourselves ‘I’m going to do this’, however as a group I think headlining the Sound Lounge in Tooting, to protest its closure, was a big moment. Not only was it the largest gig we’ve ever played, but the atmosphere was unparalleled to any gig we’d played before. It’s quite special hearing your lyrics shouted back at you and for us that was an awesome moment.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
A beverage is always essential, maybe a setlist if we’re feeling sensible.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Bouncing ideas off each in rehearsals is always a great way to get ideas out there, however nothing really beats seeing a band you love perform.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
James has been collecting some semi-retro gear for the past few years which is slowly creeping into our sound such as the Korg R-55 Drum Machine and the Roland JV 1080 Sound Module. We’re also keen on making a guitar not sound like a guitar; we’ve been using the EHX Key 9 for that along with a bunch of Strymon pedals. Analog gear aside, the band tends to produce on Logic with the addition of a base pack of Waves plug-ins.
Any side projects you’re working on?
Nothing music related but our drummer, Sonny, is always working on new film projects, anything from sketches to short films.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
We feel like when we started off in 2014 we were a really middle of the road indie band, not really doing anything different just sort of moving with the current. Since then we’ve focused and streamlined our songwriting to an almost ‘purer’ form of pop with everything expect the best bits cut out. We definitely get to the point quicker nowadays.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
You can expect a new EP, music videos (even live videos) and definitely a lot of gigs. The rest of the year is looking like a lot of fun for us!
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