New Noise: Koi Child

We get cosy with Kevin Parker’s favourite rap-jazz group: Koi Child.

Koi Child are a unique proposition: a West Australian hip hop-jazz fusion outfit whose sound is one part Beastie Boys to two parts experimental horn work (between tenor and alto saxes and a trombone, there’s no shortage of meaty brass being thrown around). A product of Perth’s ever-thriving and famously eclectic music scene, their skillful instrumentation and lyricism is given beautiful direction by Tame Imapala’s Kevin Parker. Yep, the main man behind everyone’s favourite psychedelic rockers has lent his gifted ear for production to Koi Child on their soon-to-be-dropped, self-titled debut LP.

And the results are damn impressive: something that will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Parker’s impeccable taste and idiosyncratic approach behind the decks. We’ve already seen standout tracks from the boys (all seven of them) in the form of “1-5-9” and “Black Panda” (which also boasts a strong video to match) and we’re eagerly awaiting the rest of the record – which drops later this month in the UK. The sunny vibes and vital energy of what we’ve heard thus far seems a good fit given the geography of the recording process, which took place in a shack in a small island with a crate of beers: the joys of Australia, ey?

We sat down with vocalist, Shannon Patterson, and Tom Kenny (who plays keys in the group) to talk influences, spontaneity, and the genius of Kevin Parker.

Where did the name Koi Child come from?

Surprisingly it didn’t take much time or effort to arrive at the name. We simply put together the names of our separate bands, “Kashikoi” and “Childs Play”, arriving at the name Koi Child, which suited just fine.

Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, the master of psychedelic rock, produced your record – how did you come to work with him, what was it like and what did he teach you?

I bumped into him at a local live music venue in Fremantle one night when he asked how the band was doing with regards to mixing our first track (Slow One). Once I told him that things weren’t going as smoothly as we’d hoped, he offered to mix it for us, along with whatever we decided to do next, whether it would be an EP or mixtape or whatever. I spoke to the guys and of course we were all more than happy to work with him. We knew it would make a life changing difference having him on board, not only as such a well known artist, but also because of our faith in his ability and knowledge as a musician. Working with him proved to be nothing less than what was expected and we couldn’t have asked for anyone better. He was really patient despite our ongoing hair splitting and was totally cool with all the feedback we gave him. If anything I learnt to try keep things as cool as possible while working and have confidence in our art. The man’s a true natural.

Your debut album is being released in the UK soon – what topics and themes do you explore on?

The topics vary from track to track, I wasn’t really going for anything specific this time around. “159” is based on the left and right sides of the brain, “Slow one” is about my high school experience and “Black Panda” is straight up flow flexing with no real topic. I guess if anything there’s a slight “good vibes” theme somewhere in there but I reckon every track is different.

Your songs contain so many different elements – what is your writing process like?

Well with this album we kinda just worked with a few jams and built on from there, adding different groves to the structure and sticking them together in whatever ways interested us. I’d have raps stored in my rhyme book for special occasions like this and I’d bust whatever worked with the instrumental. The general outline of the album didn’t take very long but we might try a different approach in future.

What’s your favourite part about making music? The writing? The touring?

My favourite part is most definitely the touring. There’s something about knowing that you’ve got this on lock and you’re ready to share it with an anticipating crowed. I love writing but I think the reward shows once you’ve rocked the house to a crowed that hasn’t seen you or wasn’t sure what to expect. Good music loving fans are what drives us and their approval really means a lot

What’s next for Koi Child?

I guess the next step is to keep writing and keep touring Australia until we get the chance to cross the ocean and pay visits to our fans around the world. More than anything we’d love to travel and actually make some sort of living out of our music. But whether that happens or not, we’re more than grateful for the way things have gone so far. We’re a very lucky bunch.

Tom Kenny

You’re are a hybrid of two bands – how did you come to work together?

It was a very unconscious and natural process compared to a lot of other collaborations; the bandmembers all have differing tastes in music and what we happen to want to play mixes in with everyone else nicely, for the most part.

Your recorded it on a remote island off the coast of Perth – why did you go there?

We wanted to get away and just focus on the recording for a while; we also didn’t have any money to record with so we borrowed gear and turned the borrowed house into a studio. That place is very special to us now.

What’s the Australian music scene like?

Absolutely riddled with under-the-radar geniuses, as I’m sure every place in the world is (if you look hard enough). There’s lots of fertile smaller scenes dotted around the country, which we’re seeing more of now that we’ve started touring a bit.

What were you listening to whilst writing the record and who are your greatest influences?

D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah” and Hiatus Kaiyote’s “By Fire” EP both came out while we were tucked away recording; both of those artists are important to us. As a group, we listen widely, but there’s a few overlaps like MF DOOM, Slum Village, Fela Kuti, Tame Impala (of course). I worship Dimlite.

Is your creative process meticulously planned out or are you very spontaneous and like to improvise?

I think we have a healthy balance of both: some songs wholly came together as a group exploration, others were brought in as solid ideas that get polished and stretched by everyone over time. I think there’s a lot to be said for having both processes simultaneously.

New Noise: Koi Child

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