KLLO BackwaterMelbourne cousins Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam are Kllo, an atmospheric meshing of R’n’B, pop and shuffling beats inspired by early ’90s electronica. Lam answered our questions about debut Backwater.


Tell us about the bungalow home studio – can you shut the door and pretend you’re somewhere else completely, or is it open to the Melbourne sunshine/thunder?

It’s almost a little too open to the sunshine and thunder. We have to be careful what days we record as the rain easily finds its way into the recordings. Crickets and birds also; I’m sure there’s plenty of them in the recordings.

Sometimes with electronica the vocals sound very separate to the instrumentation – you can tell each component happened at very different times. You guys never seem to have that problem. Are entire arrangements ever made before you apply vocals or does it all happen symbiotically?

Symbiotically. We take things slowly and precisely when it comes to our music. Each layer is added, and we’re just stacking up the blocks as much as we can until we are satisfied. Vocals are one of the first elements added and we work around it with the final bits of instrumentation. Everything is created together in the same room most of the time, so it’s hard to make things sound really disjointed.

You learned jazz drums in the past – do you think that learning the traditional ‘rules’ (so to speak) prompted your desire to break them?

Learning jazz I found to be a bit of an oxymoron; it felt so rigid in teaching the art of improvisation and musical freedom. I’m not really a rule breaker, but I’m not really a purist either.

You incorporate some real percussion in when playing live. Was it always this way? Why is it important?

We had the SPD from the first show, right in the centre of our setup. It’s just a really good way to connect physically with sampled sounds, and the moments in the set where I stop playing keys to play drums come as a real relief; I feel much more at home on them.

Title track Backwater is a fascinating piece. Did it ever have a more traditional structure (or beat or lyrical arc), and you stripped it back, or did you always envision it this way?

[Backwater] is a palate cleanser. We didn’t want to overcomplicate it. There’s a lot of singing through the album, so it sits in the middle as a breather. That track actually changed a lot during the mastering process with our friend Andrei Eremin. The mastering converters messed up and ended up pitching the whole track up, and we decided just to roll with it.

At the end of the very beautiful Nylon, you’ve kept in the sound of someone getting off the creaky piano stool. Why did you want to include it?

The piano was recorded on an iPhone. It wasn’t really intentional, it’s just what’s at the end of the recording. We wanted to keep this song as raw as we could – that’s what makes the song special.

Backwater by Kllo is out October 20 via Good Manners/Caroline.

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