Kalaha is the brainchild of a quartet of really talented Danish musicians. Emil De Waal (drums, sample pad, percussion, effects), Niclas Knudsen (guitars), Rumpistol (synthesizers, effects) and Spejderrobot (electronics) are so brilliant at music making that Kalaha deserves to be labelled as a supergroup. Their various stylistic colors fed the drift of influences (electronic jazz, afrobeat, dub and other ethnic nuances) your eardrums are going to meet while listening to the sounds of Kalaha. Here’s a chat with Kalaha’s spokesman, which occurred just before the launching of their new EP titled ‘Quarquaba’ on Rump Recordings.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi folks! How are you?
Kalaha: Hi there! We are really excited about our new EP, music video and upcoming tour, thank you 🙂
Chain D.L.K.: Compliments on your project! Can you tell us something about its birth?
Kalaha: Thanks so much! It is our first studio album, but still recorded live in the studio. All four of us in one great yet small recording room. We have all contributed with compositions, and afterwards Rumpistol and Spejderrobot have done some amazing mixing and editing work.
Chain D.L.K.: Why did you name it Kalaha?
Kalaha: We all like the game Kalaha and played it for hours and hours during our childhood. To us, the name covers both the playfulness of our music, the inspirations from Arabian and African music, and then the word has a percussive quality to it. It simply feels great to pronounce it.
Chain D.L.K.: How did you integrate traditional music from Africa and China into electronic jazz and dub?
Kalaha: For us, it has been mostly just playing music together. Being the musicians we are, it is just the way the music turns out when we play it together.
Chain D.L.K.: Who’s the mastermind of such an implementation?
Kalaha: It is truly a collective effort. We all have different strengths that somehow work together amazingly well.
Chain D.L.K.: Does Kalaha’s sound have an influence on other projects of each single member of the group?
Kalaha: That is a hard question to answer… But we are pretty sure that all the choices – artistic or life choices, as such – we make in life, will influence all our projects.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the meaning of the word Quarquaba?
Kalaha: Quarquaba is a Moroccan metal percussion instrument from the Moroccan Gnawa people that our drummer, Emil, plays on the tracks Tippi Tabu and Jostykit. This name has a percussive quality to it as well; it rhymes with Kalaha and once again, it simply feels great to pronounce it.
Chain D.L.K.: I really enjoyed all the tracks on this EP and the way they evolve… for some strange reason, “Tippi Tabu” resembled the broadcasting radio of Outrun, the well-known racing videogame! Any hidden inserts into it?
Kalaha: No, but we will definitely have to check it out 🙂
Chain D.L.K.: The “childish” melody and the Americana-like guitar chords you inserted in the rocky dub movement of “Josty Kit” is really amazing…what are the elements of this sonic mosaic?
Kalaha: The childish melody was in Emil´s basic composition/programming of the song. Then Niclas improvised the guitar part while we recorded it together in the studio. The dub movement was enhanced by Spejderrobot and Rumpistol in the mixing/editing process.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the link between “Hahaha” and “Quarquaba”?
Kalaha: Word-wise, it is the three-part “a-word” and the rhyme. Musically, it is the evolution of our music together. Hahaha was a stereo recording (no multitrack) of our VERY first concert/jam together playing music from each of our back catalogues. Quarquaba is a studio recording of music written by all of us especially for this band.
Chain D.L.K.: Are you going to include other collaborators in the near future?
Kalaha: We have serious plans about bringing in some kind of vocalist, but we have not found the right one yet. And it sure has to be the right one to make sense for us.
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve read you’re going to perform at Beishan World Music…my compliments! Have you ever performed in China?
Kalaha: Yes, but not as Kalaha. We’ve all done individual tours in China before, playing places like the Midi Festival in Shanghai, NO+CH in Guangdong and the OctLoft Festival in Shenzhen. Every time, it has been a mind-blowing experience.
Chain D.L.K.: What are you preparing for that performance?
Kalaha: The Chinese audience, as we experience it, is very much into energy. So we will play a firework of a high-energy show every time 🙂
Chain D.L.K.: As your first album was recorded live, are you going to record your second album there?
Kalaha: Good idea! Thanks!!
Chain D.L.K.: Any praise for the work of people on mixer, sound engineering or artwork?
Kalaha: The album was recorded by an old friend, Troels Bech Jessen, who also recorded our first album. He is always a pleasure to work with and makes all the instruments sound and blend just right – both electronic and acoustic. Our artwork is extremely important to us, and this time, the artwork is a limited 75-copy hand printed cover by the great Danish artist Zven Balslev and his awesome printer Erling Jørgensen, who is a legend to all artists in Denmark.
Kalaha Live Dates 2016:
Feb. 19: Radar, Aarhus.
Feb. 20: Global, Copenhagen.
Apr. 23: Beishan World Music, Zhuhai, China.
Apr. 24: Beishan World Music, Zhuhai, China.