This week we spoke with Maria Sullivan, otherwise known as Koloto, to discuss her journey through electronic music, her plans for the future and her new EP which comes out at the end of August.
The Canterbury-based producer debuted her first tracks back in January 2013 and then in 2014 she released the incredibly well received "Mechianca EP." With a highly unique style, she describes her music as an infusion of elements of electronica, post rock, hip hop and Musique concrète. She draws influences from artists such as edIT, Four Tet, Baths and Amon Tobin, to name but a few.
Koloto shuns sample packs in favour of home made, hand crafted sounds, resulting in a unique pallet of instrumentation that is often hard to define. Editing plays a key role in her composition process as tiny fragments of sound are intricately interwoven to create complex melodic and rhythmical passages that are both playful and emotive.
What's the story behind the name Koloto?
It actually arose from a slip of the tongue, but I really liked the way the word sounded and looked, I happened to be looking for a name at the time and it just felt right, so I went with it.
It says in your bio that your the very definition of a multi instrumentalist – what exactly does that include then?
Haha, It should probably read jack of all master of none. Bass, Drums and guitar are my main instruments, that is to say the ones I play on a daily basis, but I dabble in all sorts really.
Do you try and incorporate that into your music?
Yeah, pretty much all ideas start out on bass or guitar, I then transcribe them and start to experiment with different instrumentation. I've developed a very particular aesthetic with the music I make as koloto, so I usually try and work within the realms of tuned percussion, but there is a fair bit of clarinet, piano and live bass in some of my newer stuff.
What does your studio setup look like?
I live and work in the same space so logistically things can be quite tricky. I have my computer, audio interface, a bunch of MIDI controllers and various instruments, and it’s literally a case of setting up what I need at any given time. I’ve found this to be a surprisingly efficient way to work as I can only focus on the task in hand.
Have you changed this a lot since you first started making music?
Definitely, when I started out I was predominately playing in bands, I lived in a house full of musicians and it had a dedicated rehearsal and recording space. In a way making the transition to electronic music has been pretty liberating because I can just do everything within the computer if need be.
How did you get into electronic music production?
Music has always been a huge part of my life, so as soon as I left school I went in search of music courses. I actually wanted to study music practice, but the course content included allot of public performances, being quite a shy and introverted person I didn't have the courage to go for it, so I ended up going down the technology route instead. I’m really glad I did because the course totally spread my musical focus across lots of different disciplines. It got me really interested in things like recording, production, building instruments, acoustics and psychoacoustics, which are all the tools I use to produce music now.
You mentioned a new EP – can you tell us anything about that?
Yeah, It's something I've been working on for quite a long time now. I'm still finalizing a few things (Name Included) but I should be putting out some news soon, so watch this space. It should be released at the end of August.
What about playing out - have you got any live shows booked?
I’m still refining my new live set, its been quite a long haul as I’ve been trying to incorporate lots of different live elements but still maintain the original essence of the tracks, and its presented allot of different challenges. As soon as it feels solid I’ll be doing some dates around the UK and hopefully even further afield.
What does your live setup currently look like?
Traditionally my live set up has been pretty basic, just a laptop, audio interface, LPD and MPD. But I’ve been working on a bit more of an elaborate set up with my new material. I’ve incorporated live bass, guitar and electronic drum kit.
If you had to categorise your music by a genre, what would you call it?
I try to avoid categorizing my music because I genuinely don’t know where it fits. I draw influences from lots of different genres, so its kind of a mixture of many influences framed within an electronic landscape. So i guess i'd just have to employ my usual cop-out term and say electronic music.
What kind of music do you like to listen to in your spare time?
I listen to a whole bunch of different music, post rock, math rock, classical music, minimalism, jazz, prog, it really just depends on the kind of mood I’m in, or what fate sends my way.
If you had to pick five of your favourite songs from recent memory – what would you choose?
I recently stumbled across a collection of marimba sheet music by Walt Hampton called hot marimba. I’m completely in love with every piece in there, for the past few months I’ve been listening non stop to various performances of that, mostly adorably sloppy school marimba club renditions.