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The Kite String Tangle Talks SXSW, Groovin The Moo & His New EP

“Some chick passed out on the side of the stage and pissed herself,” said Danny Harley of one of his recent gigs. If you can judge how far someone’s star is rising, there’s no better indication than a punter literally wetting themselves at your show.

Mind you, it’s hard to judge Harley’s The Kite String Tangle project in terms of celebrity – he specialises in down-tempo, ambient electronica not catered for the lads of fist-pump. So what is it that Harley is doing so right (or wrong, for the bladder-prone) that makes crowds lose their cool so spectacularly?

Music Feeds sat down with The Kite String Tangle to talk about playing SXSW, his first touring festival with Groovin The Moo, that Triple J sound, progress on his latest record and ice-cream.

Music Feeds: Let’s get right into it. Groovin the Moo is coming up. How are you feeling about that?

The Kite String Tangle: Really good. It’s been one of my life goals to go on a touring festival to get into that whole band mentality; travelling with a whole bunch of other groups. I’m really excited about it.

MF: Are you nervous for SXSW? Hell of a lot of talent in the one place.

TKST: Yeah, I heard so many things about it and all of them are different. Some people say it’s a shit fight and it’s impossible to do anything or move or get to any showcase and then other people say it’s the best opportunity ever. I really don’t know what to expect. I’m going there blind and open to anything. Hopefully that’ll work.

MF: Any surprises up your sleeve? A RUFUS collaboration perhaps?

TKST: I caught up with them recently. We’re definitely catching up at SXSW. We’re playing the same showcase but no collaborations on the cards just yet.

MF: So what can the crowds expect?

TKST: It’s basically similar to the last tour: me on stage whole bunch of doodads – glowing gadgets and stuff. It’s pretty much all midi-controllers and at the venues I have, we like to have projections, lighting and smoke. Put on a good show rather than just being a solo guy. I kind of got sick of the whole laptop bedroom producer show.

MF: So no Empire of the Sun headpieces?

TKST: No, no. The guy legitimately thinks he’s Jesus. It’s good to watch.

MF: So how did the stage name come about?

TKST: I was writing ambient music a while ago. Like Brian Eno’s ambient stuff — real ethereal stuff with no drums, no vocals. It was kind of very nostalgic. I wanted a name representative of that kind of music. Really evocative that promotes an image in everyone’s head when they first hear it. The music changed but the name stuck around til now. And it’s good to find on Google. That was an added bonus.

MF: Both you and Flume have Harley in your offstage names. Ever considered collaborating and calling yourselves Harley & Harley?

TKST: [Laughs] Sounds like a lawnmower! I have spoken to him briefly a year and a half ago. We’re probably due to catch up.

MF: Tell us about your musical background and how you started off.

TKST: Pretty much always been doing music for as long as I remember but from about 12. I used to play bass in a pop-punk band [Pigeon] and I didn’t really get off the pop punk train until I was 17. I went to university which was quite production heavy, doing popular music and engineering.

I met a lot of people and people that were into different things there and ended completely broadening my music tastes. I’ve been into industrial metal, jazz… I just went through everything over the years and at the other end came out at a fairly accessible sound. I don’t know how that happened. It feels natural which I think is important.

Branching out [solo] is something I’ve always been doing anyway. The turning point was when I started to put stuff online. Everyone who knew me knew I had this backlog of songs I just did for fun. I decided it was getting ridiculous cause I had close to a hundred songs just sitting there not doing anything. I thought, “Yeah, I should put some stuff up.”

MF: You’re a new artist who has received a lot of support from Triple J in the past year. What’s your take on the whole ‘Triple J Sound’ thing?

TKST: I think I’ve been on both sides of the coin. Because Pigeon, we’ve had Triple J play and we’ve never been added and it’s something that we’ve kind of gone through phases of where we said “If we do this, maybe Triple J will play us…” and then completely disregarded Triple J altogether. I think a lot of Australian bands go through that and you’ve got to access that kind of radio play.

And then I’ve had times where they’ve picked it up and run with it which is really cool. It’s weird because there are bands that do get picked up by Triple J that don’t capitalise on it and it doesn’t translate into ticket sales. And vice-versa, where people nail it live with a huge following and never have Triple J support.

I don’t think Triple J have been shaping anyone’s sound. It’s a strange one because I think Triple J are the wrong target. It’s the lack of alternative and it’s not really their fault.

MF: So what’s the process for making a great new track?

TKST: It almost always starts with production; a beat, then layer it up from there. I generally get some groove going then switch to song writing mode where it’s about structure and instrumentation. Vocals and lyrics are always last for me. I don’t know why it just is.

MF: The entire process done on your own?

TKST: Definitely internal. I think I’m most expressive when I’m on my own… Just a shy guy.

MF: Let’s talk about fun on the run. You’ve been touring quite a bit now. What’s the craziest thing to happen on the road so far?

TKST: In Fremantle, we were doing a changeover and some chick came up and said, “Play something by Kite String Tangle! It’s what they want you here for!” And I go, “Hey I’m setting up, just wait for like, two seconds!” And the same wasted chick, about two songs in to my set had passed out on the side of the stage and pissed herself [laughs].

MF: I guess you could spruik that your music makes people piss themselves…

TKST: People will lose control of their bladders. I’ll bring some paper towels the next time I’m in Fremantle.

MF: When can we expect to see an EP or album?

TKST: EP is pretty much done on my end. It’s just going through finalisations. End of April it should be here. I’m excited for it. Hopefully before Groovin the Moo. If not, during it.

MF: And you’ll be touring for it?

TKST: I’m definitely doing a tour for it after Groovin The Moo but it hasn’t been locked in yet.

MF: Finally, if you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

TKST: God. Probably something boring or obscure. Not a tradesman that’s for sure ’cause I’m useless with that kind of stuff. Maybe an accountant? Actually, an ice cream taster.

The Kite String Tangle played SXSW in Austin on Saturday. He’ll be playing Groovin The Moo 2014 in April and May. Details below.

Groovin The Moo 2014 Dates

Friday, 25th April 2014

Oakbank Racecourse SA

Tix: Via Moshtix

Saturday, 26th April 2014

Maitland Showground, Maitland NSW

Tix: Via Moshtix

Sunday, 27th April 2014

University of Canberra, Canberra ACT

Tix: Via Moshtix

Saturday, 3rd May 2014

Prince Of Wales Showground, Bendigo VIC

Tix: Via Moshtix

Sunday, 4th May 2014

Murray Sports Complex, Townsville Cricket Grounds QLD

Tix: Via Moshtix

Saturday, 10th May 2014

Hay Park, Bunbury WA

Tix: Via Moshtix

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