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Artist Spotlight: Kable54 on making an entire album with Korg Volcas

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Kable54 is a Melbourne artist that’s managed to write and record an entire album using only Korg’s Volca series of portable synth and percussion boxes. No small feat considering their limitations, but as we all know, creative limitations can sometimes generate magic. Kable talks us through the making of and thinking behind his album ‘Volca Galaxies,’ releasing it through long-running underground Australian label Clan Analogue and why he loves the Korg Volcas. 

How did you first get into electronic music?

It’s been a gradual progression for me, getting into electronic music.  I started off playing guitar, then moved onto making big rock type tracks, all layered up with software synths in Cubase.  After a few EPs of doing that, I gradually moved to a more ambient type sounds, then to the Volcas for this album.

Why did you switch from computer-based music making to using hardware?

Well obviously computers are great for making music, but like a lot of people I was getting sick of making music sitting in front of the computer, alone. I wanted to play live performances to real people. I wanted to move away from the screen. I found the Korg Volcas when I went searching for “live ambient music” on YouTube, and came across all these bedroom producers who were doing all these fantastic things with the Volcas.

There is a perception in some quarters that Volcas are not synths that you would use for serious music production. What do you say to those naysayers? 

Whenever I hear someone say that the Volcas are toys, I kind of laugh to myself.  They sound fantastic.  and each Volca has a different character. But maybe the most important thing, the Volcas provide musicians with limitations.  On a laptop, it’s very easy to become paralysed by all the choices available.  It can be overwhelming, and I’ve found it leads to less finished songs and less music making.  With the Volcas, yes, there is the ability to sculpt sound, but the emphasis is on actually making music, making tracks. That’s something that’s been really appealing to me.

What were the influences and inspirations behind your album ‘Volca Galaxies’ from a song-writing perspective?

While I was making the tracks, I was listening to a lot of classic krautrock albums… Kraftwerk’s ‘Trans Europe Express’, Cluster’s ‘Zuckerzeit’, Conrad Schnitzler’s ‘Con.’ I really wanted to get some of that vibe into the tracks, while also letting the Volcas themselves shape the sound. I also wanted to stay true to my live set. The album is basically a well recorded version of the live set that I’ve been playing around Melbourne. I like to think I fed the tracks a diet of East German steroids to prep them for recording.  That was my kind of mindset in creating this album.

What form will your next project take?

Well with each of my album projects, I kind of take on a different musical genre. Prior to ‘Volca Galaxies’ I made an ambient album that wasn’t strictly ambient… I called it plastic ambient.  So I guess this album is my plastic Krautrock album.  Next might be some plastic techno or plastic dance – who knows!

What prompted you to get in touch with Clan Analogue to release Volca Galaxies?

I’d seen Clan Analogue doing really cool things around Melbourne, with the ‘Gear Shift’ jam nights and all the releases they’ve put out over the past 25 years. After label manager Nick and I agreed to release my album together, I started to really dive into the Clan Analogue back catalogue and have been quite humbled by the quality and quantity of Australian electronic music that they’ve been involved with over the years.

What sort of set are you planning at your upcoming performances?

I’ve been playing the album live as a full set, with a lot of improvisation added in. But I’m now bringing some new tracks into the set.

Listen to Kable54’s Volca Galaxies album via the Clan Analogue website: www.clananalogue.org
Kable54 will be playing in Sydney on Saturday 23rd of December at The Record Crate, 34 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe.

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