Words: Miljan Milekić
It feels like it was just a few weeks ago that I was interviewing Ed Rush and Audio following their Killbox debut ‘Pleasure Palace.’ That’s how fresh their sound and their album still was. However, here we are again, more than two years later, talking about their brand new album ‘Devine Profits.’ Keeping their signature elements, and expending them with some fresh influences, Killbox are gearing up to release another instant classic. Therefore, I had no choice but to catch up with them and talk about it. Check it below.
First of all, it’s good to have you back! So, this is the fourth single from your upcoming album ‘Divine Profits,’ and it seems like fans already love it. Are you happy with the feedback for ‘Beaker,’ but also for ‘Epicentre,’ ‘Mutiny,’ and ‘Nova?’
Killbox: Yes, the feedback has been very positive from fans and peers alike. As producers, you make what feels/sounds right to you at the time and try to catch a vibe, so if it resonates with others, then that’s always a great feeling.
I had a chance to check out a few more tracks, and the first words that come to mind are “dark” and “gritty,” which is pretty much the way I saw ‘Pleasure Palace’ as well. Is that the sound and the atmosphere you’re the most comfortable with, or it’s more of a reaction to the world around you?
Killbox: We have always been drawn more towards the darker side of sound – even as separate entities, we are both more into that style. It also happens to fit in very much with the changes we are seeing going on around the world at the moment, with this pandemic and all the challenges that come with it. So, it is a perfect soundscape for the current climate.
Listening to your new tracks, I feel like you take up where you left off with ‘Pleasure Palace’ while adding some fresh elements. Was there ever a break between two records, or you just kept the momentum and kept creating new music until you knew you have an album in your hands?
Killbox: We are always in the studio, either alone or together – although not together since Covid, constantly working on ideas. So there’s always a palette of sounds or ideas to draw from. That way, you can tailor pick tracks that work well together and build a concept, or create a work of interesting textures and ideas that all flow and feel like they are from one place. I think this project has that organic feel.
For this record, you decided to release one song at a time. What are the main reasons for taking up this approach? When can we expect the whole LP to drop?
Killbox: It takes so long to make an album like this, a lot of energy is put into these projects, so it’s only right that it’s consumed in the right way. I think people’s way of listening to music has changed drastically in the last few years. Music has a lot shorter shelf life. We are mainly streaming our music instead of purchasing it, and I think it reflects in our attitude towards the music.
A few years ago, a tune would be hot for a while and had a decent run. Now, a track is seen as old very quickly, and people are looking for the next thing, which is fine, but as artists, we need to realize this and make adjustments accordingly. So, we felt the best way to release the album was to let each track breathe a bit. Allow people to absorb them. If we were to unleash them all at once, then it could easily be too much to process, and certain tracks would not have the relevance they deserve.
Once again, you had put a lot of attention to the artwork, and I know that aspect is really important to you. I’m with you on this one, but why do you care so much about it in the age when most people listen to music digitally, and almost never hold a physical copy in their hands?
Killbox: Sound is a magical thing. It’s not tangible. It can evoke great feelings and emotions in us, so we know it’s very powerful. It exists in our memories, and it can even change your mood or mindset. So, any way that we can make it appear tangible and allow us to connect with it on another level is important. This is why the artwork is so important. It gives us something visual to relate to the sound. A strong image or concept can help cement the sonics of the song, or project to make them more memorable. It gives us more to get our teeth stuck into as a consumer. It can help strengthen the power of the music or give us more of an insight into the artists’ intentions.
Saying that 2020 is a crazy one would be underestimating. How challenging was it to shape up an album during the global pandemic, quarantine, and lockdown?
Killbox: It has been tough. Easily the most challenging time we have ever faced in our careers. We both have young families, and it has been very hard during these testing times. Luckily, most of the tracks were in a near enough finished state, so most of it was completed with us both in the sessions. We only have one track on the album that is a pure online collab.
Both of you are DJs, and I know that you often feed off crowds in front of you and fuel your energy and creativity that way. How hard is it for you to release music without testing it in front of the crowd? Did you ever feel insecure about, or second-guessed any of the tracks because of it?
Killbox: This has been one of the most annoying things! Not being able to play these out as they are released is a foreign concept and very frustrating. This is another reason why the staggered releases make much more sense. We’ve never second-guessed any of the tracks though. This is the power of collabs. If you both like it, then you must have faith it will be received positively. Trust the process!
Speaking of lockdowns and quarantines, I know that most artists in today’s world rely heavily on shows and tours, and I can only assume that you have been hit by it as well. How do you cope with it, and where is your main focus now?
Killbox: It has been really tough to have your main source of income taken from you so drastically. There has been no real help from the government for our sector, so staying positive is a challenge. That being said, we have been keeping busy in the studio creating and doing bits around the house that needed doing, like decorating, etc. Spending time with the family and trying to stay motivated in the lab. I know Gareth has always got an arsenal of music ready to go, and I have been busy writing some different tempo/genre bits as well as the usual. It has been cool to not have to write just for the weekend, and only thinking about the dancefloor and being able to explore some different vibes and make the music you want to make on that particular day.
I, for example, have allowed myself to make more melodic-sounding stuff if that’s what I’m in the mood for that day, which I think is healthy. Also, not listening to 100 promos each week has allowed us a certain freedom and not influenced our creative process as we are not making beats JUST for the dancefloor.
As artists, but also label owners, do you feel like these past few months can change the way the music industry works, and lead to some new models for everyone in the music business?
Killbox: It has been nice to see fans supporting artists more, whether it’s through buying a tee-shirt, or purchasing tracks through, say Bandcamp, or whatever. I definitely think that consumers are more aware now of how these streaming platforms work, and how artists really get nothing from them, so might be more inclined to help support artists get paid nowadays. There are dubpacks and a few other ideas that can really help put money straight into the artists’ pockets. I think this is the way it needs to go to give more power back to the creators, and not these big corporates. So now more than ever, please support the artists you like.
As I said, you both run your own labels. How challenging is it to be as productive as you are, play so many shows, and run a label? How do you juggle between all these things, and finding time for your family life?
Killbox: I think if you love music and you love producing, you will always want to be writing, or thinking about it, or learning new techniques. So, staying motivated is hard sometimes, but usually, it’s always there, one way or another. You just gotta dig deep sometimes.
With playing shows, you don’t realize how mad it all is until you stop. You just kinda get your head down and get on with it when you’re submerged in it. This pandemic has given us time to reflect on how much we were all travelling around and how lucky we were to have complete freedom. Although it has been nice to not race around like madmen every weekend, we do miss it a lot. Pre-Covid, we were both house husbands during the week as both our wives work, so we get to spend a decent amount of time with the kids. Then at the weekends, it was off flying around doing shows. So, it was kind of like living two separate lives. It’s basically all about balance.
So one last – once shows become a thing again, what’s the first tune you’re gonna spin?