by Maria Bungau
One of our favorite producers today, Australian-born, Berlin-based artist Kris Baha fuses an infectious mix of post-punk, wave, EBM, psychedelia, industrial, electronica and more into his unique productions. With standout releases on labels like Pinkman, She Lost Kontrol and his own Power Station, Baha just released Palais, a 12-track multi-faceted 2xLP exploration of his musical sensitivities on Berlin’s Cocktail d’Amore. To mark the release we sat down with the artist to speak about his background, inspiration and of course, the new album. (see below)
The Brvtalist: Palais is your first solo album, being released on Cocktail D’Amore’s label. How did the collaboration start?
Kirs Baha: First off, I want to say thanks for having me on The Brvtalist. The collaboration officially started in 2015 when I first moved to Berlin. The year prior though I tried to book Discodromo for my own weekly party I was running in Melbourne, Australia with my brother Dan & friend Michael Delany called Power Station. Unfortunately, in the end we couldn’t make it happen in 2014 so when I went to my first Cocktail D’Amore party in 2015, I decided to bring along our first Power Station release to Giacomo & Giovanni (Discodromo). To my surprise, they had already been given the master files from somebody and had been playing them out, specifically my track!
A few months later I figured I would make some demos to send G & G and just as I was finishing them off, Giacomo reached out asking for an EP - errie timing that has lead us to now.
TB: All songs are written between 2015 and 2018 in Berlin. In what way would you say that living and working in Berlin influenced this album?
KB: Well it was written during the time I was transitioning from my old life in Australia to my new one in Berlin. A bit of a cliché for every DJ in Berlin, but it’s true! I think it took a while because I was figuring a lot of things out for myself, about myself and I wanted to document that. Thus, the final form of Palais, which is now a fading past of myself. My next solo LP wont take as long but there were a few things I really needed to figure out to include on the LP before making such a statement.
TB: Where do you go out in Berlin to have a drink or enjoy a show?
KB: The short answer is, generally I am not out and about so much in Berlin just because I really relish the time off when I am not out of town playing shows on weekends. When I do go out though it’s to see friends play or catch up for dinner. You may see me in the wild here at Sameheads, Urban Spree or Greissmuehle.
The long and slightly skewed answer is, I find that by having weekends where I am not playing and being in my studio centers myself and counters and the shitty side effects of traveling, given it's usually for short bursts of time and can sometimes lead me back home within 24 hours or less along with the travel obstacles that go with it (stories for another time). The process of creating music is therapeutical for me and really important to my well being.
TB: The track ‘Defied’ is “a year 2042 cyber punk hit” as described in the press release. How do you imagine the year 2042 to look and sound like?
KB: If we are not fighting for clean water and air (which I hope isn't the case), then I imagine that inevitably music might be more of a visual experience for us consumers. I don’t think headphones are the final frontier of the solo musical listening experience given we have come this far in such a short period of humanity & technology.
TB: How do you approach making music? Do you see it as work, where you have to put in the effort even when you don’t feel so creative, or do you solely rely on inspiration?
KB: Now that I have been writing music for 18 years I have found (for myself) that inspiration helps kick start ideas but I am also a firm believer in consistency when it comes to writing music as it revels in the long run. Obviously there are moments where we need to refill the creative & artistic well and most of all take time out for our artistic self, but I do find that the sheer act of creating music, acts as creative therapy for me which I’ve come to realize more recently.
It also doubles as a bit of a cleansing process as well - like cleansing water, to get that stuff out of your system (even if it's horrible) so you can get to the good stuff.
I believe the more I write the better I become. I make better/ faster decisions and am less likely to constantly second guess myself which I think is the key to honest art. When I do find myself getting complacent, then I change things up so it doesn’t keep becoming so predictable. It’s a balancing act but I think a lot of it is about being honest with yourself in the moment. This is my approach and this keeps things fresh for me and hopefully for the listener, because it reflects where I am right now and I want listeners to feel that.
So heres my current workflow - it’s a 3 part process:
Part 1 - I will write 1-3 sketches a day which are live recordings/ jams - all multi-tracked.
Part 2 - I then re-visit at a later time once I am emotionally detached from it. It allows me to approach it with a fresh headspace and for those demos to meet the first stage of my ‘Quality Control Test’.
Part 3 - If they meet my “KBQC” test, I’ll develop them further.
TB: Do you think your music is not for the “sane”?
KB: Given we are living through an interesting period where Facts and Truth are second guessed, Maybe.
TB: How do you like to spend your time when you’re not playing or making music?
KB: Generally by substituting it with other creative consumption. So visiting galleries, art & design book stores or going hiking and lapping in the creations of this earth which is a big source of inspiration for my band Die Orangen.
TB: What keeps you inspired, artistically, musically or otherwise?
KB: Modern Art and visual media keeps me inspired / excited as well as intersections of fashion and music but it's not limited to just this. I like to be open to all inspirations that come from a different context, other aesthetics that aren't just solely the music itself which can let me approach my music from a different perspective. That being said just, the sheer act of discovering music I haven't heard before also keeps things exciting.
TB: One last question: is romance dead?
KB: An era of romance just might be, but maybe it’s for the best..
Thanks to Kris Baha for speaking with us. Palais is out now on Cocktail D’Amore and you can pick it up here.
Follow Maria Bungau on Twitter.