What did you start out listening to when you younger?
I’ve answered that question many times, but now I’ve reminded myself of something quite interesting that I haven’t mentioned before. In the 80s, alongside the disco records of my parents, I had a lot of Bulgarian records with fairy tales. The actors were pretty amazing, the stories were fantastic, but also the sound design was pretty obscure. Everything was made with synthesizers. I already liked Disco, but those fairy tale records and the science fiction literature I was reading made me very open to techno later on. I skipped Pop and Rock music somehow.
Where does the KiNK name come from?
A friend of mine suggested it. He found it in the English – Bulgarian dictionary, said it fits my music and he was right! Thank you Teodor!
As well as DJing, you produce your own music. How did you get into that?
I really wanted to get involved with electronic music somehow. It was not possible for me to buy records during the 90`s, but what happened in the late 90`s is that some of my friends had personal computers; I saw a chance in that. I thought, “If I cant buy records, I can make my own tracks, using my friend`s computers.” I started with Jeskola Buzz, a piece of modular Tracker software, a pretty weird, free music platform, which is still my main weapon in the studio.
What type of stuff were you making during those first forays into music production?
My first attempts were just loops, arranged live and recorded from the computer straight onto a cassette; it was very raw house and techno. At that time I had a very slow dial up internet connection and I couldn’t afford more than a few hours per week. I couldn’t read much about music production or download samples. I didn’t have a wave editor, so I couldn’t sample myself. I had a limited amount of samples on floppy disks. I had to learn how to program music on my software with Hex code. My music friends were helping, but none of them had much experience. My friend who used to do an electronic music radio show on Bulgarian national radio asked me if I wanted to present my music on his show, I think it was in the year 2000. I decided that the radio show is a good reason to make a few proper arrangements. Those arrangements were chaotic, sometimes too musical and with too much variation. But they weren’t that far from what I do now: a mixture of house and techno, some elements of the UK hardcore breakbeat era and a little bit of experimentation.
How did you feel after you’d made your first track?
It`s hard to say which was my first track. I was experimenting with loops on tape since the early 90`s. Then I was doing live sessions on my friend`s computer. Now I’m still learning how to make better music, its always exciting. But I won’t forget the moment when my first vinyl came out, in 2005, on Odori records, a split 12“ with my friend Craig “Eviljack” Birmingham. And the moment when some of my DJ idols, such as Laurent Garnier and Josh Wink played my record for the first time, it was the one with Neville Watson on Rush Hour, called Inside Out.
How has your production style evolved over the years?
My friend Jassen Petrov, a famous Bulgarian music journalist and DJ, told me once that we add more and more elements till we learn how to make music. The moment we start to remove those elements, we become mature producers. In the beginning, almost 15 years ago, I was making music through layering, adding sounds and many composition elements to a track. With the years passing, I’m getting closer and closer to a more subtractive process of making music. I’m trying to make rich sound out of simple sound sources; I like the idea to leave some elements in the composition unfinished.
What technology out there has had the greatest influence / helped with this evolution in style?
If we talk about my studio production, then the technology didn’t play that big a role. I’ve worked with the very basic Jeskola Buzz Tracker software since the late 90`s and now the hardware I buy is influenced by some electronic instruments from the late 60`s and early 70`s. I believe that the artist is more important than the tools that he uses, it doesn’t really matter how you will bring out your idea, as long as you have an idea. However, if we speak about my live sets, then Ableton Live helped me to come up with some good ideas for my live show. There are many pessimists about the software and using a laptop on stage, I was one of the biggest pessimists out there. Ableton changed my mind; you can play more live with it, compared to an act that has a whole hardware studio on stage.
What do you think about Roland’s recent reissues of some of their classic hardware? Do you think it’ll lead to a spate of music merely trying to mimic what has gone before, or do you think that, in some fresh hands and with some fresh ears, we may just be in store for something we’ve never heard before?
I already purchased the Roland TR-8, the drum machine from the new Aira series. I don’t think this machine will bring anything new on the table music-wise; there are already a lot of software emulations of those classic machines and the computer allows you to modify those sounds, much more than any hardware tool. What I like with those reissues is that Roland made those great electronic music performance instruments even more suitable for live performance. Although I don’t want to produce tracks with those familiar sounds right now, when I hear those beats in a club, they automatically trigger something inside me. If I see an artist creating those beats live, the effect on me would be double. I don’t think we will hear anything new, but we will see new things on stage and all over the internet. I’m excited to see how the new generation will twist this cool technology into something different. I can’t tell more before I test all the products, but from what I read, I think Roland took the right step.
Your debut album, ‘Under Destruction’, comes out on Marco in May. Can you tell us some more about that?
It’s a very personal project, its not really a club record. There are few Techno tracks, the other stuff is broken and slower, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy listening. The album demands the listener`s attention and an open mind. The record is inspired by the fact that limitations can be creative. Basically, it’s raw electronic music with many layers. Some of the tracks can work for the people in the club, some tracks can sound innovative for other producers, and some tracks just have a story. But they are all somehow identical, because of the way I recorded them.
Does the album accurately reflect what a KiNK live show is like?
It reflects my live show, but not vey accurately. If you`ve seen how I play live on stage, literally sweating on top of my gear, working fast, sometimes chopping off a fader or destroying a button because of too much adrenaline and excitement. It was the same situation in the studio! I hope no one was watching secretly though the window; I bet I looked like a mad man! However, I used a totally different setup in the studio and sonically most of the album material is not suitable for the clubs. That’s why I also don’t have any album tour plans right now. I’m flirting with the idea of a live online presentation, so the people can witness the creative process in the location where the sessions were done, with the gear used for that.
Can you tell us more about your stage set-up for when you play live?
Well, at the moment I have quite the usual setup, for the simple reason that I want it to be replaceable when I lose or break a piece of gear. I have a small midi keyboard, which I use to construct simple melodies, some little drum pads by Akai and Keith McMillen that I use to play and record percussion. I use two “grid” type controllers by Novation, which help me for navigation though the computer software, so I don’t just stare at the screen. I use a turntable to play acapellas and loops from vinyl. I used to have a ribbon controller by Eowave. It looked like a laser sword, it was fun, sounded great and the crowd loved it, but it was not very reliable and I’m kind of happy I damaged it. Currently the fun factor comes from a toy by Numark, called Orbit. It’s a wireless midi controller; I can go to the bar for a drink and I can still play my beats. Also, I have a chopped off headphone connected to the input of my sound card that produces a cool clap like sound when I hit it. Overall I think what people notice is the way I use my instruments and the fact I show what I do. Also, I often invite random people to play with me. Some people find it funny or stupid, but I really enjoy playing that way and that’s important to me. Luckily the majority of the crowd likes it, so I feel encouraged to experiment.
Have you any advice on how to get noticed for the aspiring producers out there?
They have to be really motivated first of all. It’s nearly impossible to break through and then, it if it happens, the work’s just began. If those future artists are dedicated and they do it for the right reasons, they are already closer to success. You need to develop good skills as a musician, but unfortunately that’s not enough nowadays. You have to find all your strengths. Some people win because they are good looking; others are good with communication, all that helps. We are the new rock stars; the crowd wants to see a strong personality on stage. It was hard for me to accept that, as I’m more of an introverted person and I don’t think I look like a model. But I found I’m quite good and creative with any kind of hardware music tools, so I found ways to show it. My advice is – work and expose yourself.
What’s upcoming on your horizons for the rest of the year?
Beside the album, and writing new KiNK dance floor stuff, I want to produce new material for my partner, the beautiful singer Rachel Row; more collaborations with friends like Neville Watson and Marc Romboy. I have new ideas how to make my live set even more improvised and I’m looking forward to find time for it. Overall I’m very excited and inspired to make new music, more so than ever.