Getting weird and dark and fun with Kult Kyss
In a genre that is so loud and drenched in trends, fads and everyone vying for that little bit of attention, it can be hard to do the one thing that always works – be yourself and do what is true to you. What was once known as DEJA, a duo known separately as RROMARIN and HAXX made the decision to stop, take stock and find a bit of time to re-find themselves and their sound, and emerged with Kult Kyss. A reincarnation of what they were doing before but a second chance to really free themselves and their sound, Kult Kyss hones in on the pair’s penchant for otherworldly, immersive and intoxicating electronica.
Hedonistic, tribalistic, hypnotic, all-consuming. These are just some of the words that begin to describe Kult Kyss. Self-described as “ritual noise” or “augmented reality”, the pair want to make you move and their music to fully take over you. From their debut back in 2016 all the way through to their most recent single, ‘Chi Cup’, the two artists work together in perfect synchronicity, knowing exactly where each other’s strengths lie to produce the very best music they can. Working within parameters they set themselves, the duo use Kult Kyss as an outlet to really let go, being as experimental and liberated as they can be and in turn, tapping into something completely different to whatever else is coming out of electronic music at the moment.
Having joined The Presets on their HI VIZ national tour and releasing their most self-assured work yet in ‘Chi Cup’, you can’t help but get the feeling that Kult Kyss are now ready for us once more. Their world is now fully constructed, and they’re inviting us in if we dare. With an appearance at BIGSOUND next week, and even bigger things planned for this year and beyond, we spoke to Rromarin to talk new beginnings, letting go and what’s still to come.
For the uninitiated, can you talk me through the origins of Kult Kyss?
Jack and I have been making music together for quite a few years and we were originally in a project called DEJA, which was dark pop. That spanned quite a few years and a lot of early development, and our sound changed so much over the years that we reached a point where we thought if we could start again with all of the experience that we had, would we do it and what would we do? That was how Kult Kyss was born as a fresh start and a project that had a lot more clarity and consistency. That was about 18 months ago and that’s where it all started!
That’s so cool! So you kind of saw something had run its course but you still wanted to apply everything that you’d learned to reincarnate as Kult Kyss?
Exactly! It was kind of a controversial decision because we’d actually taken time to write an album for DEJA, and technically that project was going quite well like we’d just played at LISTEN OUT for triple J Unearthed but we just… I don’t know, writing the album made us go a bit crazy as writing albums does, I’ve since learned. Not just for us but many artists too. It’s such an introspective process so through that and through working on so much music together and finding a new sound we just decided. A fresh start!
As clichéd as it is, it kind of sounds like you found yourselves as well?
That doesn’t happen over night and obviously it takes time to get there. The music that we hear now as Kult Kyss definitely has a genuine and authentic element to it that I think you could only really create if you knew what you were about this time around.
Thank you, it’s cool. We did set ourselves parameters around the vision which is really nice. When you have a whole spectrum you can go in as creative, it can be really overwhelming so that’s something we always really wanted to do as Kult Kyss and to have it as a concept project.
A big part of what I hear in Kult Kyss’ music -it’s even in the name- is that hedonistic, cult element that makes you really want to let go and lose yourself. Why has that been so important to this concept?
First of all, I’m glad that’s how you’ve been experiencing it. For both of us, music is about escapism. I’ve always really loved artists who create really immersive worlds for their music to exist in and artists who are quite conceptual and have fantasy based narratives, like Fever Ray and Bjork. Those are the kind of people that really inspire us. We really wanted to just be able to create this project for people so they could have a touch of fantasy in their lives as well as music to connect to and move to. That’s kind of the idea.
I haven’t seen you perform yet but even in the photos I’ve seen of your shows, you’re incorporating those otherworldly influences into your live show – is it important for you to try and project that into the live aspect to be able to really immerse people?
100%. It’s something that we’re so excited to build on and develop. BIGSOUND is going to be not a challenge, but you’re not allowed to bring along any additional lighting or smoke or anything so thankfully we’ll still have our masks and stuff as part of our costume. It’s essentially going to be what we had on tour with The Presets, but going forward, we really want and have always dreamt of making the shows really immersive and very visually engaging as well as from a musical perspective. Basically we want to take people on a journey and for it to be an all-rounded experience. That’s just how we are, I’ve always been drawn to artists who do that and create really memorable experiences so if we can do that — if we had a million dollars it would be amazing! We’re just slowly building as we go.
Going back to supporting The Presets, they’re an act that I would say do exactly that and create a really immersive show for their music. Kult Kyss supporting The Presets just made so much sense, how was that whole experience for you?
Yeah it was such an honour. That doesn’t even begin to describe it. They have been such a big influence, particularly for me. Jack’s even teased me over the years about how much I loved them. But again, the amazing worlds they create: I love their music videos and the art they create, I’ve always been really inspired by them so it was such a crazy dream and really be able to play our first shows as Kult Kyss with them. We’re super blessed and really grateful for them seeing something in us and taking us along.
Was there anything in particular that you took away from them being on that tour? It was a really momentous tour for them as well!
They’re amazing people and just such great human beings. They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes but they didn’t disappoint at all and well surpassed all expectations. They’re just at a point where they’re thinking of their legacy and connecting with the new generation of electronic artists, and also giving back. They care about helping the next generation of electronic artists and it was a big moment for them. They sold out a few shows but the sold out Sydney show was a big moment for them so I was just so happy for them. They’re still so cool and progressive, they just smashed it.
Both you and Jack collaborate outside of the band a lot as well as being in Kult Kyss together. What do you think that external collaboration brings to Kult Kyss and the way you work together?
I suppose it definitely makes us better creatives and musicians because we’re lucky enough to be working with these artists and really talented people all the time who help hone our skills, challenge us and make us better musicians. It also means that in some ways with Kult Kyss, we’re a lot more free and experimental in a way because we’ve been so busy, it can be quite a treat to work together and work on our own music. Not only do we bring all the influences of all these other artists but in turn, we’re able to do whatever we want and really run free and be as stupid or fanciful as we want, explore things and really indulge in our creativity. It’s a funny counter-effect that working with lots of other people has had, it just means Kult Kyss is a lot more free and fun. Even though we do have the parameters for our sound, we’re still able to go on creative journeys and adventures.
It’s kind of liberated you in a sense, collaborating with other people means you’re working within their parameters right? Working with someone like Golden Features, that’s an artist that is very well established in what they do so there’s certain parameters you’d have to work within so coming back to Kult Kyss is kind of like, “Okay let’s go batshit crazy now!”
Yeah that’s exactly it! Just being really experimental, like I can do so many things with my voice for Kult Kyss and go and record so many vocals. Anything that I want to do, I can just do. It’s really fun in that way. Not even showing off the nice side of my voice, more showing off the ugly, dark side of my voice as well which some producers I’ve collaborated with do not like at all [laughs]. They really want the sweet side of my vocal so that’s why it’s really fun doing that with Kult Kyss. Getting to get weird and dark and fun with it.
Back to BIGSOUND now, it can be a really big week and it’s just around the corner! How are you feeling about it all given, as you said, the Kult Kyss show is still relatively fresh in the scheme of things?
I am so grateful for The Presets tour because I think it’s going to be quite similar. Because we were the opening act, we just got a line check and didn’t get a soundcheck, really got thrown right back into the deep end. We were only allowed to use a limited amount of gear because we were the opening act and we were traveling, so funnily enough I’m feeling pretty good about BIGSOUND and I feel it’ll be really similar settings. We’re not going to get a soundcheck which is always my worst nightmare but I just have to accept it [laughs]. We are definitely still fresh and still have a way to go, but we played nine shows in three weeks so feeling good and feeling excited to keep playing live and take the next step. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for years so I’m really excited.
Looking forward now, what else is on the horizon for Kult Kyss? You’ve been biding your time and just taking measured steps so I wondered what might be around the corner for you? Is there an album in the works?
We were a bit quiet in 2017 because of all the other work we were doing and all my Rromarin stuff got so busy so we’re really wanting to pull back and focus on Kult Kyss. We really want to take the project to the next level and we don’t want to wait anymore. We have waited a while so it’s all systems go really. We’re excited, we’ve had a taste now of the project being a real, live project out in the real world and people connecting to it. Not just being an internet project so we’re really excited to power on and do cool stuff!
4-7 SEPTEMBER, 2018
FORTITUDE VALLEY, BRISBANE
Interview by Emma Jones