Glass talks to innovative Bulgarian DJ/producer KiNK

STRAHIL Velchev aka KiNK is at the forefront of the experimental house and techno scene. Last month, he teamed up with Desperados for Sound Stage, an immersive festival with a DIY spirit at its core and the first of its kind. A live track was created via sound systems built with unusual materials such as car parts and could also directly interact with an audience of 300 people. I spoke with KiNK about the experience and its impact on his music-making process and future live performances.

KiNK x Desperados DJKiNK for Desperados Sound Stage

Having 300 people at your disposal as well as a crazy sound system, how did you go about picking the elements that would eventually make the track?
I looked at the story of each sound system and created sounds according to the style of music the systems are normally used for. I imagined certain sound systems have a frequency response suitable for the different parts. For example, I wanted the low-end to be played by the dub/reggae-oriented systems and the more lo-fi, distorted systems to be used for the mid-range synths and drums. However, it’s difficult to work by description, so we had to swap sounds and speakers, when I arrived at the venue, to make it even better.

KiNK x Desperados Sound StageThe incredible sound system at Desperados Sound Stage

 

What sort of elements usually make a strong impression on you when listening to or creating new material?
I’m always looking for a distinctive element, regardless of whether I’m listening to it or making music. Melodies and rhythms – I like them almost out of tune and swinging a bit out of sync. It creates a certain tension and if it’s done tastefully it’s like a special spice, which could destroy the meal, but if it’s not abused – it creates the magic. One of the things I liked in electronic music was that sounds were unnatural and unusual.

There’s a video I love from your Cyrillic project where you put some tape on vinyl to create the sound of a clap. Has that DIY spirit always been there from the beginning?
I’m glad you mentioned it. I’m about to release the first record with this project in one month, but I’m renaming it to Kirilik. I took the idea from a turntablist, known as Kentaro, but I’ve been into the DIY approach since I was a kid. In the early 1990s I wanted to learn how to scratch, but there wasn’t that much information about the DJ culture in Bulgaria at that time and I had zero budget.

Using DIY methods, I took an old Russian turntable, connected it to the speaker and built a device like a crossfader, as I didn’t have a mixer or knew what it was. Now my friend Konstantin Petrov “KEi” is helping me to build my own simple effects and synthesizers.

As you always openly discuss what kind of equipment and instruments you use, do you have any DIY recommendations on how to get interesting sounds for DJ/producers who might be on a budget?
Eurorack could be a good way to slowly build an interesting machine and learn about electronics and sound design and parts are available from 20-30 euros. But Eurorack is highly addictive and it’s easy to burn money.

My current project is a clone of the famous Roland TR-909 called Nava. I need to solder over 1000 components, but it costs a fraction of the original price and it will be a new machine, more stable than the old one hopefully.

Innovation and curiosity towards music technology has always been at the core of what you do. What sort of developments and potential new tools would you like to see in these areas to take experimentation to the next level?
I’d like to see more performance oriented instruments. I believe nothing really ground-breaking was invented in the world of sound design since the late 70s. Then innovations like 12” records, digital DJing platforms and live-music-oriented software like Ableton made a big impact on how music is performed nowadays.

It’s very important to be spontaneous when making or playing music. We need tools that are easy to use, so we can focus on emotion and creativity. I’d like to ask music instrument and software makers to think about what would be the easiest way for musicians to create and play, as well as having to travel. I also think that the role of DIY and open source projects will help with that.

KiNK x Desperados Dj 2KiNK at the turntables for Desperados

After this experience, do you see yourself integrating more audience participation in your live performances?
I’ve always done it, but on a smaller scale. I always wanted to translate the way I play to the audience. Years ago, I was on the other side, dancing while trying to understand what the performers did. Now I’m hungry for more.

by Claudia Manca

You can listen to I Can See Through You right here