Just before death the late great Conny Plank was quoted to say of his work, “I’m not a musician. I’m a medium between musicians, sounds, and tape. I’m like a conductor or traffic policeman.”. It’s a self assessment that is far too modest and underplays Plank’s skill as a musician on both instruments and studio technology, but usefully however it does introduce the notion of the message often being in the medium when it comes to one’s utility in music.
Arguably it is the skill to maneuver between different positions that is the imperative for anybody existing within the transient and amorphous sand dune that is modern dance music.
The Pool’s most recent recruit is a figure who embodies this flexibility perfectly. A musical polymath who exists as producer, dj, promoter, engineer and remixer:
Kris Baha is the perfect example of the energetic, resourceful and creatively enlightened individual who can be both the medium and the message. This flexibility extends to the sound palette of Kris’s productions. Occupying a broad range of tempos Kris’s back catalogue includes searing mechanised drum workouts, twisted cosmic synth doodles and sludgey midtempo bruisers.
After 6 months in Europe we caught up with Kris to find out a little more about his beginnings and something on his future…
So you had an early introduction to music as you started out making industrial music in your early teens. Tell us some more?
A funny story – I became obsessed with German band Rammstein around the age of 12, in which I then formed a Rammstein cover band with 2 school friends – we were not that popular after performing at a few school assembly’s. We did start to write original music shortly after sticking to the formulae of guitars, electronic sequences and some kind of early un-educated idea of Danceable music.
From there I got into outfits like Throbbing Gristle, NIN and delved into Acid Jazz territories, Trance / Electronics/ Synthesizers and so on – I guess that was a plus from doing the cover band.
To come into the present a little bit more we heard you are supporting Australian Industrial legends Severed Heads soon. Aside from them and SPK any more Australian Industrial or Goth music that we should look out for?
A lot of my music is influenced by Severed Heads so I am extremely chuffed to be opening for them in November in my hometown for Melbourne Music Week – Plug!
The Informatics, Ash Wednesday/ Modern Jazz, David Chestworth, Asphixiation are just but a start of some great Australian artists/ bands worth checking.
As well as industrial music your music has quite a live rockist element to it. Some of it reminiscent of Factory sounding dance rock, is that something you have consciously tried to incorporate?
Most Certainly, that era and expression resonates with me…alot. It is definitely a theme I have consciously thought about incorporating with my music, for now at least. I like exploring unconventionality and maybe the naivety in doing that shines through in some of my music – I know it isn’t for everybody.
Who are your production heroes? When did you start DJing?
I started to become interested with dejaying when I was 14. I would not say I have particular heroes as I am still discovering music that inspires me just as it did earlier on but I do love the production and sonic aesthetics of 1979 through to 1986 and it’s respective ‘proto eras’ of new genres – Notably the production styles of Severed Heads, Meccanica Popular, Adrian Sherwood, Conrad Schnitzler, Hard Corps, Daniel Miller, Chris & Cosey, 400 Blows – within those years.
The Power Station night that you run with your brother is now legendary, you’ve had everyone from Carl Craig to Mr G. Tell us about how that all started?
Carl Craig and Mr G played for us at our previous party, Survivor! Club of Legends along with other guests such as Mark Flash from Underground Resistance, DJ Hell, Pachanga Boys and some other Legends. I co-ran this party with my brother, Dan and our friend Michael Delany.
The venue was split into 3 levels to make one large pantheon playground which all interconnected. The top level, a LGBT club named Poof Doof –Survivor! A mixed-raver crowd on the middle and lower floor – aptly titled ‘The Bottom End’. This floor would also turn into a recovery once the top and middle floors finished up and both crowds would merge until last person standing – hence the term ‘legendary’. That only ran for 2 years but fell victim to the adage of nightclub owners greed and in turn became defunct so we changed gears almost 3 years ago to an intimate / renewable energy, Power Station. It has been equally as fun and a lot more rewarding.
We run every Saturday night and have had acts like Discodromo, Mr Ties, Paranoid London & Barnt play but we do reserve a lot of our bookings to locals rather then big names like we did in our previous lives. Aside from the satisfaction of seeing locals develop and grow, this path allows us to focus on the music, hospitality and cultivate a weekly community in Melbourne. To add, we have been able to develop our own record label spawning of the party’s identity. We are up to our third release now with another 3 ready to go along with our sub edits-label, Power Cuts.
You are regarded as the go to man for engineering. What makes a good engineer for dance music? Any engineering heroes?
That is a flattering comment – I would say that I have helped a lot of respected friends express what they were trying to say within in their own pieces of works. Sometimes you find yourself running up against a sonic wall and need to borrow your friends ladder to help get over it.
Firstly I do believe that Sound Engineering is an art form. Not to get too nerdy here but following tradition, a good sound engineer will be able to (without bias) embellish an artist’s work and sigh… ‘Bring it to life’ – When it comes to Dance music I feel perplexed… I don’t personally think the role of an engineer is needed so much as Dance music’s beginnings were formed off a DIY approach and this is still very much the process today. In dance music the Artist is, the Producer, the Engineer, the Marketing team, the Coffee runner etc. Albeit sonic possibilities open up when you know you’re way around the plains of Dynamics, EQ, Width, Depth and so on but really its all subjective – Instant sounds are available to you whether it be via hardware or in the box (DAW / Computer) – You can get the mix sitting right from the start if you choose your source sounds based of frequency range (no frequency double ups/ clashes), transients (sampled drums) etc. Further to that the “Happy Accidents” we all wait for whilst experimenting may not entirely happen if you know the plains (mentioned above) too well.
I think it’s an exciting time right now because there is no certain way records need to ‘sound’ or major labels dictating how music should sound. You can be quite open and let artistic integrity dictate a sonic / production decision – that being said I am not opposed to things sounding nice and equally appreciate well recorded/ engineered music but I guess my sonic palette leans to a DIY approach. Steve Albini’s techniques are simple and effective.
Since coming to Europe you have forged a strong alliance with Cocktail D’Amore. What makes playing those parties special? A little bird tell us you may have a record lined up with these guy?
I have been a fan of Discodromo and their Cocktail D’Amore label for some time and actually tried to book DD about 2 years ago for Power Station but could not make the tour happen at that time. We then crossed paths 6 months later when I moved to berlin and a Demo of mine was passed on to them – I guess I stayed on their radar until we finally met in person at CDA. From there the boys asked me to submit an EP which (ironically enough) I had already written and was going to submit before they asked so I guess everything happened quite naturally – We then had DD play at Power Station in 2015 and have them booked again for later this year.
As for the party – The guys have been running it long enough to know what’s needed to create something special. For starters You are always welcomed when attending as a punter – There is no pretentiousness at all and if you are dejaying there, musically you are open to take it wherever you want to go – It is my favorite party in Berlin… actually I even flew straight from a gig in Lithuania direct to CDA just to hang out and dance, until close the following day…
I have an EP and LP coming with them end of 2016/ 2017 😉
As well as Cocktail you have forged a strong alliance with the Multi Culti crew, how did that come about?
Both Thomas and Angus (Dreems) have been good friends of mine for years. Things started to form when the guys approached me to give the Red Axes ‘Waiting for a Surprise’ remix a go. Angus, Thomas and the Axes loved the remix and so it appeared on the Digital release.
From there I also submitted a collaboration track with Nick Murray of Otologic/ Animals Dancing, whom I write a lot of music with aswell. The track we submitted is titled ‘Say Something’ and appeared on the crazy 3x Moon/ Sun Faze compilation tin box set with custom record sleeves, zine and sarong – hand made in Bali! Last I checked it is going for some crazy sum on Discogs.