Interview: Kate Simko

Kate Simko has carved an international career as an electronic music producer, film composer, live performer, and DJ. Hailing from Chicago, Kate’s music reflects the influences of the city’s underground sounds, as well her background in classical piano and jazz music.

Getting her start on Ghostly alongside Matthew Dear and Ryan Elliot, Kate has since released on Get Physical, Hello?Repeat, Leftroom, and No. 19, and was named one of Chicago’s Top 10 DJs by XLR8R. This fall Kate has an album upcoming on Sasha’s label Last Night on Earth, and her debut London Electronic Orchestra EP on the Vinyl Factory.

Kate’s London Electronic Orchestra project in 2014 and have since sold out concerts at the Britten Theatre, National Gallery, and opened the iTunes Festival 2014. Featuring live instrumentation from harp, violins, cellos, and upright bass, they create intimate atmospherics and indelible frequencies. Their track ‘One Time Game,’ alongside Jamie Jones, is a beautiful classic that is paired with a raw 909 club mix.

Anticipating the August 28 release of ‘One Time Game,’ and fresh off her Shoreditch House LEO performance, we caught up with Kate Simko to discuss academia, Jamie Jones, gear, and more.

“…when you make a piece of music for yourself you start from any creative inspiration point, and the song grows into it’s own story and world.”

Your project London Electronic Orchestra will release its first EP soon. Can you describe London Electronic Orchestra? How did this collaboration between LEO and yourself first come about?
Hi! The LEO is basically a band. In its smallest state it’s me, a harpist, two violinists, two cellists, and an upright bassist. That’s our core group, but we’ve done shows adding in woodwinds, and had our largest show with a 36-piece orchestra. I write the music, and then adapt it to the ensemble. I started the project a couple years ago while I was getting a masters at the Royal College of Music. To be honest I looked at it like an art project, didn’t expect it to make it this far into the real world.

How did Jamie Jones get on board with the collaboration, as the track ‘One Time Game’ was finished in his studio and released on his (and Lee Foss’) new label Emerald City? How do each of you complement each other in the studio and on stage?
I’ve known Jamie for a few years, and go back to Chicago days with Lee Foss. Since moving to London I saw the guys more, and Jamie knew I was really into Hot Natured and his new music. Last winter Jamie got in touch to see if I’d like to collaborate together. We sent stuff back-and-forth from London to LA, and then finished the EP in Jamie’s studio in London. It’s funny because the LEO wasn’t meant to be on the record originally. I played the song with live strings at LEAF festival and then we liked it so added them in pretty late.

The track ‘One Time Game’ also features some smooth vocals from Jem Cooke. Describe Jem Cooke’s approach to creativity? Why was she the right person to feature as vocalist on this particular track?
Jem and I have worked together on a few tracks, and I love her voice and style. ‘One Time Game’ was a little different because I wrote the lyrics, but then Jem brought the song to life. We have a good relationship in the studio, so I knew she’d get the intent and nuances.

What is next for you and London Electronic Orchestrsa moving forward? Have you ever considered composing symphonic pieces for full orchestra?
Next up we play Heart in Ibiza next week, then an intimate show on the rooftop of Shoreditch House later in August, then Bestival (which is exciting!). And then release-wise we have our first EP this fall on the Vinyl Factory, and album in the spring. When I was at the RCM I composed for full orchestra a few times. I loved it, and hope to do it again!

What is a vital piece of gear you cannot live without, both in the studio and on the road?
The Juno 106. I just can’t bring myself take it off my live rider, and will always keep it in the studio.

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