The Kaje talks DIY to Tom Kills

Having blown The Kaje‘s mind with his mini-album “SEMI”, uber-talented Scottish producer/musician/songsmith Tom Kills only added the impact his mini-album had by creating a series of sensational made-at-home videos to accompany his DIY recorded efforts. With so many strings to his bow, there is little doubt that Kills is a man who has the means to be MASSIVE. The Bowie-influenced songsmith is clear and concise in his aims as The Kaje  found out…

For those who have not heard your work before, how would you describe yourself as an artist?

Honest and content. Music is my get out clause – it does actually keep me sane. I write out of necessity and sometimes against my own will when I know I’m going to write something that someone knows is a bit too close, too personal. I always write about me and people I know and stuff that happens. Content ‘cause I like my music and it gives me great pleasure and some people like it.

And now a little about your latest release ‘SEMI’?

First half of an album. It’s 5 songs that mapped out a wee chunk of life. It’s the thing I’m most proud of musically, yet. Second half is written and I’m recording it just now.

What prompted the decision to release a mini album as opposed to EP or LP?

I had the intention of an album but after the first 5 it seemed so immediate that it should go out. Like I say, it captured a snapshot of my life at that point, so it was the right thing to release it. The great thing is that after ‘SEMI’ I wrote new songs that will be in the second half as opposed to the ones that would have been on it so I’ve moved on. I think it was a great decision by James (O’Driscoll – his manager)… and here I am trying to take the credit!

How did you choose which songs best suited the record?

Sounds kinda pish but the songs decided that. Always the song.

If you had to recommend one track as an introduction to Tom Kills, which would you choose?

Probably ‘Silly Little Self’ ‘cause I was really at sea when I wrote that song. Also ‘Dvorian Grey’ – I know that’s two – but Dvorian for me is a wee bit of a thing – especially live, it really shines.

Each track is accompanied by a video, which is your favourite treatment?

I love making videos on my iPhone. I use an app called 8mm – just looks good and the most normal things look good. I like lots of lo-fi, cinefilm and 8bit stuff so not making posh videos and doing it a bit rough suits me, so I just make them on my phone.

Given how fully involved you are with every inch of your project, do you ever feel vulnerable opening it out for public consumption?

No. Actually I was in a band before now and we released an EP and we got a terrible review and I loved it ‘cause we had provoked so much vitriol. So, any reaction good or bad makes me happy. No reaction is a pisser.

You are a DIY act in every sense of the word, have you ever been tempted to get someone else involved?

No ‘cause I love the challenge. Building the tracks up, playing keys and guitar at the same time, singing, using loops and all that stuff is a buzz – it’s such a brilliantly intense thing ‘cause just one moment of not being totally true and into it and it all collapses like a house of cards.

If you could collaborate with one other artist, who would it be and why?

David Bowie. Demi God and Hero. Why? ‘Cause he is genius. He is the architect.

What acts and artists do you turn to for inspiration?

I have my main influences like Lou Reed, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, David Bowie, Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Eurythmics, Marilyn Manson and so on, but I listen to everything from classical to jazz to club to r’n’b to seriously weird and heavy industrial. I’m not conscious of turning to someone for inspiration. Like I say, it can often be against my will.

What are your ambitions for “SEMI”?

That people listen to it and say to other people “listen to this”.

How does the record translate to live performance?

It’s really intense and a zone out for me. So much to do I get lost in it all! I’m happy with it. I use visuals live too and obviously there is the body paint and stuff. Nothing stops really, from start to finish.

Which stage of the process do you prefer?

All of it. I write, record, produce, play and mix all my own stuff and play all the instruments, do my own sound design and make my own beats. I do my own site. I make my own videos. I do my own photos. I play it live on my own. I’m totally self sufficient and there isn’t anything about the process I don’t like.

If you had to achieve one thing by the end of 2012, what would it be?

In truth, I want lots of people to listen to my stuff and come see me live then tell their friends about it.

Interviewed by Jeremy Williams


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