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“There are a lot of things going around us that we feel aren’t cool”… Get to know Kill The Zo’s moral code

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When Kill The Noise and Mat Zo announced the Kill The Zo tour a few weeks back the internet’s eternal hype machine went into overdrive. Websites, blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages spluttered and gushed with a series of surprised reactions, many of which involving the words ‘random’, ‘unlikely ’ and ‘shocking’. Have the boundaries of bass and trance really blurred to this degree?  

Scratch the surface, though, and the connection is clear. Mat switched his own flip massively late last year with his vast and explorative Damage Control album while Kill The Noise has been hinting at exciting new material for over a year, especially in our own UKF Meets episode. Scratch even deeper than this shared creative attitude and you’ll find an even stronger parallel…

This isn’t just a collaborative tour. Hells, this isn’t even about the productions that we can confirm the guys have been working on. This is about a moral code and staying true to why they got into this crazy game in the first place.

Read on to find out why this seemingly ‘random’, ‘unlikely ’ and ‘shocking’ pact is actually one of the most genuine – and quite possibly most exciting and definitely the most frank – projects to happen in electronic music so far this year…

It’s easy to lose that connection when you’re making music and thinking about your relevancy in a world surrounded by f**king clowns leaping around the stage spraying champagne at each other!

So how did this start then?

Kill The: We were having a bit of back and forth on Twitter, met up at a gig and saw eye to eye.

Zo: So we got together to make some music for fun. It all started from there.

Woah… This isn’t just a tour thing, then? There are tunes!

Zo: Yeah! It’s all work in progress at the moment. But like I say, we’ve been having a lot of fun.

Can you give us an idea of what to expect vibe-wise?

Zo: It allows us both to do something completely different and beyond what we’re used to.

Kill The: I’m enjoying the fact people don’t know what to make of it. That’s the best thing; there are no crazy expectations. People have no idea what we’re doing but they’re interested… And that’s amazing!

So have you been roadtesting any of this in your individual sets? Or are you saving it for the tour?

Kill The: We’re saving it for the tour. I hope we get it all finished. But we totally killed one of the tracks in the studio yesterday which we’re excited about. We want to keep it as a surprise.

I’m guessing a lot of this has been created remotely, over the internet?

Zo: No. We’re both in the same city right now and have made all of this in the same studio. It’s one of the reasons why it’s been so much fun.

Kill The: The interesting aspect about this whole thing has been our metamorphosis from both of our comfort zones. Obviously it’s been bass music for me and Mat’s showed that he’s capable of much more than what people expect with his last record. What Mat did with that record is what I’ve been working on for the past year. Most people haven’t heard that yet – except my manager and producer buddies – but there have been a lot of changes in my studio. So the value of hanging with Mat is the new set of ears and experience of being unbound from expectations.

How about you Mat, how does Jake influence you?

Zo: I love his mentality and approach towards working. We both have a very similar ethos when it comes to our art. We were discussing the other day about having a code: laying down some ground rules of what you want to represent and how you do it. Jake brings a very strong moral code to the table and that inspires me.

Is the lack of a moral code missing in dance music now more than ever?

Zo: I just think it’s very easy to have your moral code eroded at. A lot of people start out with codes – or an idea of a code – but have them chipped away. It’s easy to lose those original intentions and inspirations.

Do you think that’s a money thing or a cynical thing?

Kill The Zo: BOTH!

You can see it in their work; the one place it’s difficult to lie. Impossible to lie, even. You can hear it when people are really pushing themselves creatively and making a contribution.

Have you ever felt your codes eroding? Is this you guys rebuilding your own code because you felt you were going that way too?

Zo: Not for me, personally. Our attitude just resonates with each other and helps us reinforce it.

Kill The: It’s like going to a new school. You’re looking around and thinking ‘oh man, these aren’t my type of guys’. You can see it in their work; the one place it’s difficult to lie. Impossible to lie, even. You can hear it when people are really pushing themselves creatively and making a contribution. There are a lot of things going around us that we feel aren’t cool. It’s not to say they’re wrong and we’re right, it’s just how we do things: think about the effect and the contribution to the wider picture. Not just ‘what am I going to get out of it?’

What behaviour isn’t cool? Can you elaborate on that a little?

Kill The: It’s the eternal problem with success. Success chips away at you. You want more money, you want more fame, you want more privileges, you don’t want to go away, you always want to be part of the show. And to do that you have to make sacrifices. Like not spending enough time in the studio and really thinking about what you’re doing and figuring out why you started making music in the first place. And on top of that, you’ve got people who are just performers. People who don’t sit and write tunes about their life and put their all into the music. And somewhere in the midst of this shit I’m talking about is where Mat and I made a connection.

I like the term ‘tunes about their life’. Not something you hear in electronic music very often. Give me some personal examples…

Kill The: Every single song I write has something personal in it!

Zo: But it’s possible to make a song, from the heart, and not have your life story as part of it. Your personality comes through it in that way.

Kill The: It’s more about being in touch with your emotions. So if I want to sit down and make an angry song – and I mean angry, not just noisy – then I’ll do it because I know how to be angry and I’ve spent a long time learning the studio so I can funnel those emotions creatively. You lose that connection when you start thinking about tours, money, expectations and all the release and industry bullshit. It’s easy to lose that connection when you’re making music and thinking about your relevancy in a world surrounded by fucking clowns leaping around the stage spraying champagne at each other!

Zo: Ha! Basically it comes down to this… You either see your music as an investment or an art. Making it in this industry without thinking of it as an art can be a very soulless thing. When you start worrying about your money, your manager, your label and everything else then that connection Jake is talking about slowly fades away.

This must get harder the longer you stay in the game, right? We’re all getting older. More commitments, financial responsibilities, family and so on…

Zo: It’s how you approach things, though. Yeah there are commercial opportunities that fulfil all those commitments and responsibilities. And more. But it’s the attitude you have when you take those commercial opportunities. Am I going to make something that they will definitely get their money for? Or am I still making the best possible product, regardless of whether it’s commercial or not? Sometimes those attitudes contradict each other.

They do. So let’s wrap up with some more tour stuff… How will the actual performances work? Individual sets? Back to back?

Zo: We’ve thought about this a lot. We’ve been wondering about individual sets then back to back at the end but we’re still undecided. And we haven’t actually talked about how we’re going to switch things stylistically.

Kill The: I consider this a project. It’s not just a tour, it’s a project; making music and being friends. This has a life of its own! We’re both confident as artists but I’m excited about how it will affect our sets and productions in the future. I’m excited to see what happens way beyond this initial tour.

Zo: I see it like we’re scientists and this is the first run of experiments. I can’t wait to analyse the results.

Be part of these results and check them on tour…

5/08 – San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom
5/09 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
5/10 – Edmonton, AB – Union Hall
5/16 – Detroit, MI – Elektricity
5/17 – Los Angeles, CA – Palladium
5/22 – Houston, TX – Stereo Live
5/23 – Miami, FL – Grand Central
5/24 – Toronto, ON – Koolhaus
5/29 – Denver, CO – Beta Nightclub
5/30 – Montreal, QC – New City Gas
5/31 – Washington DC – Echo stage

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