Words by Angelika May
I had the utmost pleasure of attending the debut gig, of the enigmatic performer that is KAETO. With a mighty stage presence and adorned in even mightier shoulder pads, clad for the revolution of teenage angst (or more appropriately 20 something angst) and guttral despair. Emerging from a shroud of red and blue mist, in an intimate stripped back acoustic gig, KAETO’s performance materalised a revision of the absurd, combated with soothing tones to soothe those late night intrusive thoughts. I caught up with KATEO, to explore her exploration of “the self” through music and debate who would be a strong contender for her dream Murder Mystery night.
Photo by Maddie Rich
Having now conquered your first ever live gig, are you now sitting with a feeling of immense accomplishment?
KAETO - Probably relief more than accomplishment, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. It’s been a lot of work across a great number of years, it feels like making pancakes at the moment, I’m just trying stuff out and not putting too much pressure on it. At the end of the day, I think I can stand up and sing in front of anyone, but what I really like about performance, is making music into theatre and having a narrative. I would love to curate more of a show, I just don’t really have the resources to do so just yet. Without a full band present, and with covers intertwined into the set I felt that the gig didn’t lend itself to the music, which is fine and it is enough just to be doing it for the experience of performing. I really enjoyed it, but it’s not quite there yet.
You have an eclectic mix of sounds, because of the unique nature of each track, do you have a separate process for each genre?
K - I dont think i really have much of a process at all, apart from making an effort to not do the same thing over and over again. I’ve had this comment from industry people and it has previously had a cynical undertone, but I completely disagree that having different sounds is a bad thing. It’s far worse fate to find yourself producing the same thing over and over again. The intention behind this project was to convey different caricatures of shame and how it manifests itself. Shame is something that permeates every single facet of your being, we are constantly being shamed into performing in a certain way. This project is a kind of a play on performance and it is so closely related to the acting exercise of “clowning”. I think that’s why they sound so, different because the music is not the ends its the means, its the medium used to convey the human experience.
The track, Mr. Nameless encapsulated that sentiment perfectly would you care to divulge further into the meaning behind this track?
Without sounding like too much of a wanker, its about the idea that you die twice, you die when you pass away and you die again when everyone who knew you passes away. There is a you that exists in yourself and then there is a you that is held in the collective conscious of others; it’s about separating yourself from that. The song is about wanting to exist without having a body or having a face. A lot of the songs from that project are about image and the self.
Did it feel daunting to express so much vulnerability on stage, specifically during Shame River? Which whilst was incredibly captivating, it’s permeated by a lot of pain.
K - It felt very inappropriate. I was very aware I was performing at The Finsbury on a Tuesday, I really enjoy getting inside songs regardless of where I am and just have the ability to focus. Previously, I had said I’m never performing that one live, mainly because the recording is so different. One of the things that was missing from the live set was the call and response in the recording, that conveys this internal dailogue of a chorus of people screaming. I tend to write more cryptically but this one is very on the nose, but its a good vehicle to express vulnerability.
When song writing, are you a night owl or does your best work come out in the good light of day?
I tend to think, as human beings we are more creative at night time, and more creative after a glass of wine, if anyone wanted some advice. I’ll usually write the top line myself and then ill go to a producers studio so it always tends to be in the day. Genius or creativity is not something which will randomly spurt if you dont put yourself in the context where you can make something, like in a studio. I do carry a notebook aswell, my notebooks are the most erratic destabalising thing in the world. There will be a shopping list and a to do list and then just a statement like “pain is power”.
Music first, or lyrics first?
K - Never the music first, always narrative first. I get a lot of inspiration from books and characters, I’m very character based. I’m never like, this is a good lyric or that rhymes with that, I’m not trying to write a hit because that’s boring, and you just won’t. Imagine all you come out with is a song.
Who are your biggest influences?
K - It would be stupid not to say that everyone influences you. Because I am not sonically driven I’m very influenced by books, such as “Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead.” Or Greek Tragedy and plays by Soppocleas, film is also a huge stimuli, the next project is very influenced by the Wicker man and Blade runner. The character for that project is appropriately called a “replicant,” I’m going to try to embody the abstract version of myself, because Im a tosser. It’s just adult play. My wold view is that all human beings have the capacity to create something they just have to find their medium. Also, randomly coming from an academic legal background, theres a huge influence of what I was doing in law, lateral thinking skills and problem solving. But it is a lot more fun solving problems with music than it is with statutes.
If you could have a dinner party, with five guests, dead or alive who would be seated at your table?
K - I wouldn’t have a dinner party, it would be a murder mystery or games evening. Robert Sapolsky, who is a human behavioural biologist, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Nile Rogers and Baroness Hale.
What’s next for KAETO?
K - More gigs, I have another gig on the 2nd of November at the Seabright.
Finally, what does your own Good Morning look like?
K - Waking up really early so I can feel really smug all day.
KAETO play's The Seabright Arms (2nd Nov), Tickets availalable here
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