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An Interview With Koto Kill: All Things Music Taste & Influences
London based, Somerset-raised Gabriel Ralls (A.K.A KOTO KILL) fits the classic "small town boy" paradigm - but defies expectation with big ideas and an eclectic approach to music. Being brought up on a healthy mixture of Michael Jackson, Kylie Minogue and the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, his teenage discovery of metal, electronic rock and the IDM (Warp Records) scene proved a fundamental step in shaping the producer’s discography today. Promoting the release of his latest musical endeavour, ‘Téléphone Party’ will reach audiences on the 18th April with a high production video to accompany, proving an exciting yet unpredictable glimpse into Koto Kill’s latest album entitled ‘Fromage Et Fashion’ - slated for release on 28th April 2023.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and how your music taste took shape?
Koto Kill was formed as a rebound project from my previous band that didn’t really have any sense of direction to begin with other than my need to produce music. I eventually just thought “fuck it” and started just recording anything and anyone I knew who could play an instrument well and just produced them into songs. More often than not, it was more of an excuse to make music videos.
My tastes have always been all over the place. I grew up being exposed to all kinds of music and I’m slowly just ticking off genres I want to cover now.
What was the last song you listened to?
I’ve just been listening to the Suzume soundtrack (saw it last weekend and it’s awesome), but in terms of actual artists, I've been checking out the pre-release tracks from Tigercub’s forthcoming album. ‘The Perfume of Decay’ is an absolute banger of a tune (and looks like it’ll be an epic album, too).
How is your local live music scene - and are there any exciting artists you recommend?
I live in West London and you’d think I’d be telling you how ace it is, especially when you consider how important West London is to music history and yet there’s little to no venues here anymore for emerging artists outside of a handful of small pubs. Even in other parts of London they’re being knocked down for gentrification. It’s not great.
Still, there are some great bands worth checking out - Yur Mum, Tokyo Taboo, Dronningen, Healthy Junkies, PollyPickPockets, The Pearl Harts. They’re the only people I’m aware of as part of a scene right now. I’m sure they’re many others but I wouldn’t know because there’s no nearby venues to discover anyone.
Which artists have influenced your sonic style the most and why?
I think it’s somewhere between Nine Inch Nails and The Prodigy. It’s become pretty cliché to be inspired by these artists due to how influential they are, but equally, they’re influential for a reason - because they’re fucking great. Marilyn Manson’s ‘Mechanical Animals’ was a very important album for me (although we don’t talk about him anymore) as was pretty much anything by Björk.
These days I listen to a lot more soundtrack pieces as I’m always interested in having a sense of soundscape and texture in my pieces.
Which musicians do you think paved the way or revolutionised the industry?
That depends on what music you’re into, what generation you’re from and how far back you want to go? I could say SOPHIE was pretty important before her untimely death (but perhaps only in certain genres and circles), Taylor Swift has done a lot in her career, or we could go to Black Sabbath, Bowie, The Beatles, Elvis, B.B. King, Sister Rosette Tharpe, Billie Holliday.
Or perhaps none of them? I think the problem with questions like this is that those who get acknowledged for so called “paving the way” or “revolutionising the industry” is attributing credit to those who broke through: those who finally hit the final chisel. It sadly doesn’t account for all those who were chipping away for so long before them.
Feature image by Sabrina Van Der Smissen