“Live” electronic music at Parks – a chat with The Kiffness

“Live” electronic music at Parks – a chat with The Kiffness

5 April 2018 Off By Floris Groenewald

Meme-master musician The Kiffness is playing at this Sunday’s Park Acoustics Electric, hoping to find the perfect booking balance between band stages and DJ lineups. We asked him about memes (obviously), influences, collaborations, and appearing at the potentially inaugural “electric” edition of Park Acoustics…

You’re almost as well known for memes as for music – how did this start and why did it become such a big part of your ‘brand’?

I’d say it started in high school. I used to draw my ideas down in my homework diary, and soon the boys in my house would pass it around the prep room and read my ideas or “memes”, which they essentially were. Before I knew it I never knew where my homework diary was because it was on the other end of the school.

I decided to start posting my ideas on my artist page because it felt like a good creative outlet and no other musicians were really doing it, so I thought why not.

Do you ever regret the meme-thing when EVERY INTERVIEWER asks you about it?

It’s the stuff of nightmares. Haha, no man, I don’t mind at all.

The Kiffness. Picture by Tyler Walker

Picture by Tyler Walker

Your twitter bio calls The Kiffness an “electronic act”, but the music uses a lot of sampled instruments that result in a more lively, organic sound – how did this sound come about, and do you think it’s useful in blending genre lines?

Most of the instruments like piano, trumpet & sax in our music are played live, in studio. We then play them live at our shows. (Hence why our twitter bio says “LIVE” electronic act).

It came about because both me and my band mate come from playing in big bands, jazz bands and the like. It made sense to bring our skills into the electronic music scene.

The Kiffness is big on collaboration – are there specific songs/albums/genres/bands/producers that influenced this way of working?

I grew up listening to bands like Gorillaz & Goldfish. I guess hearing them collaborate with different artists influenced the way I write.

Speaking of collaboration, do you tend to ask guest performers to write their own parts/lyrics, or do you have a tight mold for them to fit into?

I like to give artists as much free reign as possible. Most of the time it works out better than expected. But if I’m not feeling something then I’m not shy to let them know.

How hard/easy is it to translate what you do in the studio to a live setup? Is your intention to stay as close as possible to the recordings, or do you purposely mix things up? Does the presence of a live audience influence these decisions at all?

The aim is to create a totally different experience in our live shows, otherwise you may as well stay at home and listen to our CD. Our albums showcase more melodic & downtempo genres, while we try and keep the live show super energetic with a bunch of mashups.

Park Acoustics, Park Electric - April 2018

How do you feel about Park Acoustics “going electric”? And about being asked to be involved?

It’s great. It’s interesting being a live electronic act because you’re not quite a band, not quite a DJ. So I feel like most promoters have a hard time trying to figure out where to place us on stages / line-ups. It sometimes feels weird playing straight after a rock band, and likewise playing after a DJ who just played every dance anthem known to mankind. But with this show it feels like everyone will be coming to experience original live electronic music, and it’s nice knowing that we’re going to give them what they came for.

The Kiffness will appear at Park Acoustics this Sunday 8 April. Get your tickets at parkacoustics.co.za