Exclusive Interview: Kate Simko
We’re big fans of Kate Simko here at Deep House London. Over the last five or six years she has produced some sublime music, from the wonderful ‘Flight Into BA’ to more recent cuts such as ‘Your Love’ on No.19 Music. Kate is a classically trained composer and has spent the last two years studying at London’s Royal College of Music, putting all her energy into picking up a qualification in Music For Film as well as putting together the London Electronic Orchestra, a group of classical musicians who perform in unison with electronic beats and rhythms. With LEO she has already appeared at Royal College of Music and the National Gallery. Kate graduated recently and is now back in the studio making new music, which we’re very pleased to hear. This weekend she will be at London Warehouse Event’s highly-anticipated ‘Summer In The City’ party at Tobacco Dock in Wapping, ahead of the event we had a chat with Kate about her recent goings-on…
Firstly, you had your debut at Paradise in Ibiza recently, how did it go?
Well it was the first time I’ve played live in over a year and it was awesome. The sound guy was the most amazing sound guy ever, this guy Andy…
Ah yes, I know Andy!
He lives on the premises at DC10! He took my booking agent and I to see his little place where he stays. He was awesome – I had two keyboards; a Juno 106 and a Novation, I had my drum machine and we did a proper sound check, I was very impressed with the production Jamie put on. Getting there early I could really see the work that went into it and really appreciated it. It was wonderful, a really good show.
And so you went from there straight to South America, how did it go there?
It was great. I went to Panama City again, it’s the second time I’ve played there, and then I went to Cuenca in Ecuador and it’s the second time I’ve played there, too. Everybody loved it, I think in that part of the world they really feel the music, there are not as many trainspotters. They feel the melodies and the music itself. Playing a festival called Rotofest in Cuenca, there must have been 1,500 people – it was put on by the local Government, it was alcohol-free, which makes it different from a lot of other festivals I guess. But they just really reacted to every change in the music, it was a pleasure to play for them.
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You’ve graduated now, congratulations! How would you say your studies and going as in-depth as you have with your analysis of music plus setting up the London Electronic Orchestra has fed back into your production process?
Well, I’ve just been able to work on some new dance tracks for my live set at Paradise for the first time in a while. I think the main thing is that I’ve learned a lot about chord progressions, layering in a way that is easier on the ear, more subtle harmonic changes… Studying at the Royal College of Music made everything second nature, as far as everything related to melody or harmony. Whereas before, even though I was a pianist, I was trying to second guess myself – now it’s a fluid language for me. It’s nice to have that, whether I’m doing a remix or original tracks, as I have been doing lately. Also studying Music For Film has completely changed my sense of space. When I started studying music for film my tutor helped me study the dimensions within the piece in terms of space; panning, reverb and so on… and because we play in clubs, we’re lucky because actually do get that sense of space, but it’s something that has totally changed in terms of my special set up. I have a far greater understanding of it now.
Would you say you have more confidence in the studio now?
Yeah, I’d say it creatively sucked actually before I started my studies. For no reason besides DJing and being in that mode of checking promos… you get into a groove where it’s really easy to get trapped in following the trends and wanting the hot new tracks and your sound being influenced by all of that. Now I feel like I have a lot more freedom because I’m not really worried about any of that anymore.
It’s a good position to be in because a lot of people do get trapped in that pattern of behaviour.
Yeah, definitely. I hear that all the time, also the pressure when you’re making a track and thinking about what label to direct it to and maybe changing your sound to fit to where it would work or to be a hit… or a ‘bomb’, as people call it! I never really went that way, but there is that pressure and a lot of people try to make a ‘bomb’ that will chart well.
Yeah, it’s a shame that those factors affect peoples’ creativity.
It is a shame. But it is what it is, but after two years out of the game I’m on to the next phase and I feel refreshed to go into the studio, it’s fun!
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You said to me the other day that you have some cool bits on the way… You mentioned you’re doing something with Jamie Jones. Can you tell me how that came about?
Yes, actually the last song I played in my live set at Paradise was our collaboration. There’s quite a nice story behind it actually – I was up late working around three in the morning, working on Royal College of Music stuff. That night I was in one of those moods where I was like, ‘What am I doing? Nobody cares, I should be asleep right now. Why am I bothering to push myself and not get enough rest at night?’…and then I got an email from Jamie, he was in LA at the time so it wasn’t 3am for him of course. Anyway, the email just said ‘Interested?’. So I replied and he asked me about collaborating and said he really liked my style. So I was like, “YES!”, I was really happy that someone was thinking about me, especially at a time when I was feeling so disconnected from the scene. That really helped me push through and be confident in the lead up to the concert we did on March 12th, which was arduous and involved a lot of sleep deprivation. Knowing someone that I respect on that level wanted to work with me really fuelled a lot of energy behind that, it was awesome. Perfect timing.
You’re playing at Summer In The City this Saturday at Tobacco Dock. So I wanted to ask you about summertime and how it inspires you and your creative process, as opposed to the other seasons…
As far as inspiring my creativity, my album that I recorded in 2011, I actually flew to Buenos Aires to escape the winter in Chicago and make music during the summer because there’s so much more inspiration in that climate. When it’s cold and dark, it definitely affects me. Summer to me is positivity, there’s a sense of spontanaeity, you don’t have to plan ahead so much.. I just love it. Life flows in a really natural way and I love it.
You’ve been living in London for two years now, what does it mean to you to be based in the capital and to be able to perform here on a regular basis?
I’m so happy, it’s cool you asked that, I was just saying to my husband that I’m so happy to now be considered a ‘local’, it’s so cool. Only now after two years do I really feel like a local, I absolutely love it. I’m glad to have had the experience of studying and that’s enriched my life, but now I’m able to enjoy London for what it is and flow with it a lot more. It’s nice to now be able to take full advantage of everything that it has to offer, it’s an amazing city… especially for music.
Summer In The City takes place this Saturday (9th August) at Tobacco Dock in London, more information here: Summer In The City