Bite the Belt now takes you on a voyage across the seas to the eastern homelands, to the scrub and the cold where one man has been exploring a wide variety of creative outlets, all in pursuit of translating his fancies into something real – music, art and visions.
This is an interview with KeOSz…
Hi KeOSz, could you quickly introduce yourself for us?
Hello my name is Erik and I come from Slovakia, I live in small town called Dubnica nad Vahom.
What’s the scene like in Slovakia? My Dad had a Slovakian girlfriend at one point and in my early teens, when first exploring electronic music, I remember her recognising Scooter’s ‘The Logical Song’ but outside of national pop music, that’s pretty much the only Slovakian musical association I have other than the traditional Folk music that she used to rinse out. Can’t say I was feeling her vibes… but I’m sure that there’s more to the Slovakia’s musical soul than this encounter with one individual let on?
Right now its pretty fresh and we have a scene that can compete with the rest of the world in most electronic genres. But we’ve also got bullshit mainstream music just like the rest of the world. I don’t really like our Folk music. Theres two kinds of people here, those who love it and those who hate it. I am the second one 8D.
And are you happy with where you are based or would you prefer to relocate abroad to accommodate your style?
I like it here. Our nature, mountains, castles and also few people. But nowadays it seems like the living here gets tougher and tougher. I have lived for a while in Netherlands and also in the UK and what I found out is that these countries are not to my taste. We’ll see where I end up later but right now I’ve got a lot of work to do here.
I’d take Slovak mountains over Essex mudflats any day. Though I can’t really comment, having never visited the country, but do you think that there has been a regional influence over your production? Or has your style come from elsewhere?
My influences have always come from other artist’s art or music from around the world. But moments in life or feelings and the space around you always influence your art too so its hard to say what has had more impact. There are many cultures present here so even I can’t say I am a Slovakian guy when I have German and Hungarian ancestors XD.
So what was the musical progression? Have you always been into Drum & Bass and electronic production?
I started with pure electro breakbeats, then gave Dubstep a try, then Drum & Bass and now I have ended up making mostly Ambient electronic music and soundtracks. I’ve never thought I was or would be a DnB producer exclusively.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Right now I listen to a lot of ambient, drone and soundtrack stuff. But I really like Lorn, older Burial and Sorrow, Machinedrum and also Sepalcure and stuff like Tim Hecker, Ben Frost, Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd – there are a few tunes I’ve been listening to for ages…
Could you give us a few of those tracks that you’re currently in love with?
- Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd – How Close Your Soul.
- Burial – Fostercare
- Limbo – Sister
- Lorn – Oxbow B
And many many others but I don’t want to spam here 8D
My first KeOSz experience was through Darktide and the Entity EP. Among a couple of others, ‘The Charon’ was all I knew of you for a good year before I could resist the temptation of exploring you further. It’s that huge, drawn-out wind instrument, some sort of ancient horn/pipe, calling out across (what I imagine) to be a desolate rocky landscape; mist-veiled mountains, weird shadowy creatures emerging from the crags. And then that weird, growling bass that purrs into existence. I fucking love it! I know it’s a year gone now but could you talk us through ‘The Charon’ process, it’s a personal favourite of mine that I still come back to and fiend on a regular basis.
I love game and movie music, thats why I always try to include those atmospheres so I am glad you have these visions when you’re listening to it. I made that tune when I lived in UK basically. I always start with some atmos, then after I make the beats and bassline but its different every time. Sometimes you start with the beat, other times with the melody but I have problems with finishing tunes that way XD.
I did some artwork for them before but I haven’t worked on any graphic stuff for the new label. I am a freelance designer though so if anything comes my way I’d probably do it :)
Sticking with the artwork vein, you’re a pretty sick graphic artist. Some of the concept artwork you’ve done is incredible, often featuring humanoid/future-soldier style characters in grand jagged landscapes or the dark interiors of abandoned spacecraft-like buildings. I get the feeling that you really do love your gaming and are pretty hot on your sci-fi as well yeah?
Thank you very much. I’m glad you like it. Yes, I love this future sci-fi style and also fantasy stuff. I’ve been a gamer for a long time. Games got me into music and also into graphic work so yes, I really am a Sci-fi, Fantasy and gaming fan. XD
How do you go about creating the concept work and who is it for?
I’ve done projects for lots of people in music and for business. I bought a new tablet for drawing recently and have started experimenting more with my art. Its basically a mix of paint, photos and Photoshop effects.
Are there any ties to the imagery that you create and the music you produce? I can’t help but draw ties between some of the scenes that you’ve drawn and soundscape/ambient tracks you’ve got out there.
Not really but they all have the same feelings. I have a little dream to make videos for my ambients and other artistic/deeper music.
But would you say that you’re influenced by the same things when it comes to making music and creating concept artwork?
I think many times yes.
Largely your art, music or not, is pretty dark and ominous. Is that a reflection on yourself? Perhaps your surroundings? Or something else?
I think it’s a reflection of the stuff you don’t see. The stuff that I have inside of my head for ages, visions, stories and feelings.
I read that you were looking to venture into perhaps some more “soft” production with Cruel Culture. Has there been any progress on that?
Right now we still work only on DnB stuff but we’ve spoken about some electronic experiments together. You’ll just have to wait and see…
How far back do you and Cruel Culture go and how did you hook-up?
I knew him from his great release on Mindtech. Then I made a few DnB tunes and maybe two years ago I wrote him to send him my music, he liked it and then I asked him if he wanted to do a collab. We have the same DnB taste I think so it’s been good working with him.
How did you end up with the release on the Melbourne-based label?
We just send the demo, they liked it and then it was done XD It’s just standard process these days.
Who would be your dream label to release on?
Hmm sometime before maybe Shogun Audio or Ninja Tune but right now I don’t care, I just make stuff because I like to make the music that I like personally.
Honestly, we hear that a lot from the pros. What if you could collaborate with anyone alive or dead? Who and Why?
Hmmm hard question but I think maybe Lorn or Tim Hecker because I’ve always loved what they have done.
And one last classic that we like to ask… what would be your dream location/venue for a performance?
Really don’t know for sure but not a club. I’d prefer a more natural or silent spot than public.
Haha I was really hoping you’d say that! So what does the future hold for KeOSz? Will there be more artwork? More soundscapes? More Drum & Bass?
More soundscapes for sure. I’ve been working on another free electronic LP and I’m also still working on some new ambient and soundtrack stuff. I think not much more DnB, maybe a few more collaborations with Cruel Culture and maybe one with Trilo. I also do textile design so maybe soon you can get your hands on some “by KeOSz designed shirts”.
Maybe I’ll be repping one in the near future at a mysterious, abandoned, dystopian hive-mountain location during a KeOSz soundscape set. I’d be game. Anyway, thank you so much for chatting to us Erik man it’s bean a pleasure.
Thank you so much for interview. All the best
I’ve always felt a multi-media cross-over beyond just music and videos. One river that meanders through film, game and art alike. I’m sure it’s something that is explored, at least in passing thought, by millions across the planet but it’s fantastic to see someone turning those thoughts into a reality. Big ups to KeOSz – keep up the visions.