Toby Kaar

Toby Kaar
I first heard Toby Kaar when he played at the launch of Hard Working Class Heroes earlier in the summer. I loved his tracks and asked him if he’d like to be featured on this here Multiverse. Below find a transcript of an interview I did with him and you can have a listen to his tracks on Soundcloud here.

1. How did you get into playing music and how long have you been at it now?

I started making music when I was 15 or 16, on my family computer using some pretty bad software my brother downloaded. At the time I didn’t see it as making music, more as just messing around with the program to make fun sounds. It was only after I got into indie music when I was maybe 17 that I actually went back to the program to try and make stuff that sounded good to me. And from there I got interested in electronic music. So I guess I’ve been “properly” making music for six or seven years.

2. What does your stage set up consist of in terms of equipment?

It took me quite a while to get my live setup together, as it’s totally different from my studio in terms of gear. It’s all run through a laptop, and the main parts are two devices – a Monome and a Tenori-On. The Monome works with the computer to play samples, but uses lights in a way that means I can see what samples are playing without looking at the laptop. The Tenori-On is kind of a synthesiser built by Yamaha, that uses lots of little buttons to play sounds, instead of the standard keyboard you normally have with synths. Then there are some more controllers to apply effects to the tracks I’m playing. It’s kind of complicated, but I’m really used to it now.

3. Do you improvise on stage with loops, or do you know exactly what you’re going to play?

It’s kind of half and half when I play. I couldn’t control every element of every song and have it sounding good, so I’ve got the bones of the tracks set out already in the computer. I can then play the lead parts as loops and improvise with that, as well as putting more drums or synths into the mix. It’s really good, as I’ve got structure, but not so much that I can’t totally change what’s happening.

4. To my mind your music sounds quite soundtrack influenced. (In fact I thought it sounded reminiscent of Philip Glass’ music for Koyaanisqatsi.) Have you thought about working with filmmakers or do you see yourself in more of a club setting?

Man, I love Koyaanisqatsi. I’ve worked a little with filmmakers in the past, including a soundtrack I worked on with another person. That said, I wouldn’t say any of my music is specifically club or film specific and I’ve never tried to make my music “fit” into settings. I like that music’s elastic in that sense, that you could have any type of music as a soundtrack for a film and it could work, in the same way you could probably get away with playing a lot of strange stuff in a club if you went about it the right way.

5. Have you ever collaborated with other musicians or singers?

I have, but not in a real, concrete way. I’m collaborating with someone right now, but it’s very casual and doesn’t feel like we’re collaborating. I think, in the future, after I’ve gotten my own stuff out of my system, I’d like to actually work with other people in person. Right now I’m still trying to make all the music I want to make, without involving anyone else.

6. What’s coming up for you? Any gigs, releases or plans for 2012?

There’s some vague plan to release something when I have enough together, although I don’t know when that’ll happen as I’ve a weird relationship with my music – I hate 90% of what I make. So that might happen. I just played Electric Picnic and I’ll be playing more gigs in the next few months, like Hard Working Class Heroes. And I’m back in University just before October, to finish my degree. Pretty busy like!

7. Any influences you want to talk about? Anyone whose career you admire?

The people I really admire are those who have made music that’s really essential and that couldn’t have been made by anyone else. There’s a lot of derivative music about, and it’s too easy to fall into the trap of pandering to what people want, rather than the best you can do. I know that’s true for me, at least. I guess producers like Prefuse 73, Four Tet and Xela would all be good examples of the mindset I admire. Their music just sounds like a concentration of their personality, which is becoming more and more rare.

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