Wednesday, 2 February 2011

INTERVIEW: Chairman Kato [Pictures Music]

For all our love of bastard house and the overloaded synth explosions of the current instrumental hip hop and skweee that we harp on about endlessly, it ain’t half clean sounding. OK admittedly, someone like Egyptrixx - whose just announced his debut album Bible Eyes will be released on Night Slugs in early March - uses a little more of that sheet noise aesthetic, trusting a lot of his stylistics to the overbearing presence inherent in his sound, but sometimes our ears just hanker for that completely immersive, brooding, drum kit falling down the stairs type of beat music. Plus, as Slugabed so eloquently pointed out recently, there’s not been so much of the slow, slow stuff round these parts recently.

Enter then Chairman Kato, a London dweller whose productions simultaneously imbibe the foreboding spirit of early El-P (think The Cold Vein more than Fantastic Damage) and Shackleton’s passion for drawn out drones as melodies. Texturally, it’s often hard to beat the crunch and depth in sound that you get from using analogue equipment, and Kato’s forthcoming EP for Pictures Music , the Wildfire EP, displays precisely what we mean by that sweeping statement. 5 tracks strong it revels in its own darkness, perfectly creating a darkened and lonely person’s dream state. ‘Gemini Eyes’ might well be the more floaty of the productions on offer on the EP, due out this Valentine’s Day, but with its sandpapered edges, scuffed synthesizers and far off kick drum it’s more of a turmoil inducer, coming on more cerebral than the obvious smash and blap of ‘Thuddd’ or the fierce head nod of ‘No Coincidence.’

As Pictures themselves put it in some early correspondence: “it's pretty fresh compared to all the other stuff that seems to be cycling around and there’s not a 2step beat in sight.” From one listen their point is overtly evident; Kato’s music is at once hypnotically subtle and tempered like gravel, probably the over-riding reason we wanted to see what he’d throw down for his contribution to our mix series…

SR: Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?

Chairman Kato: I am Chairman Kato, a producer based in Hackney, East London, mate. I stay up all night making music and drinking Gaviscon. I am sponsored by Nong Shim Shrimp Crackers and Pictures Music.

Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?

My nocturnal habits tend to get in the way of doing anything meaningful during the day time. I have paid the bills by allowing my body to be used for experimental research into the effects of anti-oxidants in oriental teas. This is conducted in the low lit basement of a teashop in East London on Mondays and Fridays.

How did you first get into making music? What was it that infected you to do so?

Good question. I’m trying to trace it so I can undo the damage and get my life back together, maybe get a job and an Alfa Romeo or something. When I was a teenager I just had the feeling that listening to music wasn’t enough, that I needed to participate. Picked up a couple of instruments, did the usual thing of having a shit band, then started going out in Birmingham, got into DJing and later production.

What’s your production set up like?

It varies really, depending on what mood I’m a lot of vinyl, some synths, some cutlery, a fridge nearby (essential). I ram most things through a vintage tape machine and make the meters go all nice and red. I often have a film on with the sound down too for extra mind-fuckery.

How would you describe your sound?

Raoul Moate’s ipod.

You share an affinity to people like Lukid, Cloaks and those who build beats out of rougher stuff. What kind of music do you listen to in your own time?

I definitely do respect people like that because they have an appreciation of depth and texture, which is something I try to spend a lot of time on. I listen to a loooot of different stuff....let me pull out my ipod and see what I’m on at the moment... Ducktails, Tame Impala, Robag Wruhme, Dakota Suite, Tommy Tempa, Tom Trago, Forest Swords, Broadcast….

What is an inspiration for you?

Being in London; mainly. Being here exposes me to so many ridiculously good things and interesting people. I get a lot of creative energy from this place. I feel lucky to be here.

Are there any producers you rate that the world should know about? Any peeps not getting the props you think they deserve?

My good friend Tommy Tempa is someone you’re going to be hearing about. Nochexxx is criminally underrated and hopefully that’s going to change this year. The first release on Five Easy Pieces is going to be an EP by a duo called Chesca Royalty that has some riddim and bounce.

You’ve got an EP forthcoming on Pictures Music. Can you tell us a bit about that and shed some light on what else people can expect from you in 2011?

The Wildfire EP is my first EP as Chairman Kato, I’m very excited to be working with the Pictures boys. It’s got a bump to it but it’s not particularly dancefloor orientated... lots of noise, lots of tape saturation, with little bits of light in there to stop you killing yourself.

There’s going to be plenty more from me in 2011. Currently putting another EP together and then I’m going to decide what the hell I’m going to do with massive pile of stuff I’ve got sitting here. Basically I’m gonna be putting out more EPs in various places and possibly an album. Also I’m working on an audiovisual installation. Oh yeah, and a live show.

Tell us a little bit about the mix you’ve put together for us…

I really enjoyed doing this mix. I knew that it would be easy to get waylaid for days short listing tracks so I just pulled out stuff that was to hand and took it from there. I think it’s important to vary tempos and styles in a mix to keep it interesting so as well as new stuff by people like Hype Williams and John Roberts I couldn’t resist throwing in some Joy Division and one of my favourite 7s, by the Fabulous Three. There’s a track by Broadcast there in tribute to Trish Keenan [who passed away recently], which I’m still in shock about.

Any words of wisdom, for our readers?

Don’t wear your jacket inside and chew your food properly.


DOWNLOAD: Chairman Kato – Sonic Router Mix #67


1. Leyland Kirby- ‘The Sound of Music Vanishing’
2. Harmonia and Eno- ‘Vanos Companeros’
3. Kassem Mosse- ‘Untitled’
4. Chairman Kato- ‘Streets Of Rage’
5. Lukid- ‘Rags’
6. Bat For Lashes- ‘Glass (Chairman Kato’s Rework)’
7. Hype Williams- ‘Rescue Dawn’
8. Fabulous Three- ‘Answer Me Softly’
9. Radiohead- ‘The Gloaming’
10. Redshape- ‘Manhattan’
11. Wbeeza- ‘Southern Girl’
12. Shed- ‘My R-Class’
13. John Roberts- ‘Navy Blue’
14. Luke Abbott- ‘Trans Forest Alignment’
15. Joy Division- ‘A Means To An End’
16. Com Truise- ‘Sundripped’
17. Broadcast- ‘You And Me In Time’
18. Chairman Kato- ‘Gemini Eyes (Teasmith version)’

The Wildfire EP is out on Pictures Music this Valentine’s Day.


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