Some websites are passing away, and valuable historical information is lost. One of the website that is gone is “psybient.net”. Thanks to the web.archive.org we managed to recover a few interviews and we are happy to continue our “Archive” series. Today we present you the lost interview with Seb Taylor(Kaya Project).
Can you tell us a bit about how Kaya Project originally got started.
Seb: Well, it probably wouldn’t have existed if I hadn’t been involved in the Angel Tears Project in Israel. I had previously experimented with world influenced sounds in a couple of Digitalis & Shakta tracks here & there, but only when I started to work with Momi Ochion (Angel Tears) did I really see what was possible with regard to recording & combining a multitude of different musicians. When I met Irina Mikhailova in Mexico the seeds were set for a new project. Pathaan (Stoned Asia) was looking for tracks at the time & when Irina visited my studio in London we recorded the first Kaya Project track Labess, which was originally destined for one of Pathaan’s compilations. That’s pretty much how the project got started.
How do you work together on Kaya Project? Who comes up with what? Who starts the tracks, how do you inspire one another?
Seb: Since the first album, both Natasha & myself have contributed to the tracks. It’s mainly my project musically, but the starting point can come from either of us. For example, the track ‘Dark Roads’ was originally just a rhodes keyboard line that Natasha had recorded, & from those early recordings an entire track sprung up. There’s really no set method for starting a track, the seeds can be sown from anywhere, a beat, a simple riff, or some of the many recordings we’ve made in far flung locations.
As for inspiring each other, I can certainly say that there have been a few tracks where I’ve become stuck, unable to see the woods for the trees, & Tash can take over & perhaps entirely change the bassline, add some extra musicality & generally push the track in a completely different direction, that’s happened several times throughout these 3 albums.
Tash: I find it quite a natural process. As Seb says, it’s mainly his project but there may be times at different stages of a track where I’ll add a melody line or some chord progressions/key changes to take it somewhere else. Sometimes Seb will play me an idea and I would feel instantly inspired to sing something or perhaps we’ll work together on the arrangement of a track. It varies.
What fuelled the third album – did you set out with a specific aim or vision?
Seb: I was interested in trying something that wasn’t as electronic as my previous releases. Really pushing the organic textures & removing a lot of the synth textures that were more present on the previous 2 Kaya releases. I think the fact that I was also working on the Hibernation Project at the same time made it much easier to achieve that goal. It meant there were two simultaneous outlets, one for the electronic material I was producing & the other for the more acoustic material. Both of which were equally inspiring me, but it meant that those 2 albums have their own individual & distinct sounds. One mostly electronic & one mostly acoustic. I’m happier with those 2 albums than anything I’ve released up to now, but that’s usually true of my most recent material….I’m always happier with my newer music than older tracks!
Since there is more emphasis on acoustic sound on … And So It Goes, did this affect your writing or recording methods?
Seb: Hmmm….not as much as you might imagine, as ultimately the computer is the destination for all the sounds to be edited, compiled & arranged, so that’s a very familiar setup for me. Of course the subconscious gameplan to avoid as many synthetic/electronic sounds & textures was in effect for ‘..& So It Goes’….so I guess it was more of a psychological change of the writing/recording method. The first album featured a great deal of samples, the second album less so & this 3rd Kaya Project album is mostly original recorded material, so other than a shift in source material & concept/outlook, the fundamental creative method employed hasn’t changed that much throughout all 3 albums. It’s still an intuitive & natural method, whether acoustic or electronic.
Can you tell us a bit about the collaborating artists on the album – how involved are the different musicians and singers?
Seb: Well there are a few artists who have been on the vast majority of Kaya Project releases, namely myself & Natasha of course, but also Irina Mikhailova who has been on all of the albums, the bollywood violinist Deepak Pandit has been on a large majority of Kaya Project tracks since the 2nd album & then there are the newer collaborators like Florence Comment (from The band Foula), Randolph Matthew, Deeyah, Susi Evans (Clarinet), we’ve also been privileged to have a couple of higher profile players on the second album, namely Johnny Kalsi from Afro-Celts/Dhol Foundation & Omar Faruk Tekbilek playing Ney, Zourna & Darbouka on the track ‘Elixir’. As far as the composition & arrangement goes that’s pretty much down to myself & Natasha, utilising the recordings we’ve collected from the above mentioned musicians etc.
Where do you get most of your work done – what settings are most conducive to music making?
Seb: Definitely hibernating away in the studio, that’s where I’m most productive. I’ve occasionally tried to get tunes completed while on the road or travelling, but it just didn’t happen. It seemed like such an ideal situation, sitting on a beach or in some amazing desert location making tunes, but the reality was that I didn’t feel the urge to sit & stare at the laptop whist I was in those locations. Playing & recording was fine, but actually getting down to the technical duties of arranging & mixing on a laptop just seemed to be the last thing on my mind. There’s nothing that’s more conducive to my creative side than a prolonged isolated studio session. Preferably when it’s raining outside. Ha ha :) Heavy rainfall is one of the most singularly inspiring events for me. Especially when viewed from a cosy studio.
Is it your conscious decision to maintain just one website for all your projects?
Seb: actually I don’t really maintain a website, Interchill take care of the Kaya Project one, with the superb graphic design of Nick Edell. I do however have a couple of myspace pages that I log into (a Seb Taylor page & a Digitalis one for my breakbeat project). Many of the musical connections I’ve made over the past year or so have been because of those myspace pages. I considered starting a separate Kaya Project one but decided not to, mainly to limit the amount of time spent logging in & attempting to answer messages! I’m quite happy having one main contact point on the web rather than a multitude of them. If I had a separate page for each of my 10 or 11 projects I’d probably spend all of my time trying to keep up with the messages. I’d much rather be making music.
Natasha – can you tell us a bit about your creative life beyond Kaya Project.
Tash: I’m currently working on my own album which is turning out to be quite folky. I’m using mainly piano as a basis and building in flute, soft guitar and lot’s of layering of vocal harmonies. I would say it’s more song based than instrumental, with lyrics based on poetry that I write. It’s going very slowly but there really isn’t much rhyme or reason to when or how I’ll be inspired next! It comes in bursts. I’ve always been writing, singing & playing instruments since I was a kid – so music has always been the main driving force & inspiration in my life.
I was DJing quite a lot up until quite recently, where it’s taken more of a back seat while I’m working on my album. My DJ style has become more and more eclectic over the years, as my musical tastes have diversified. To me there is so much amazing music in so many different genres – I really enjoy seeking out different musical styles. Inspiration can come from the strangest places!
Natasha – your Myspace page presents extracts from a number of your musical collaborations – do you have one that you consider to be your primary project?
Obviously, my current solo project is the most exciting to me right now – but every project I’m involved with inspires me equally. Even though they are all very different, they touch aspects of my own character in different ways. Clearly, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Seb and we have such a close connection that the musical process is very intuitive and natural. So I guess I’ve been very lucky.
What part or parts of your musical life do you derive most satisfaction from and why?
Seb: Undoubtedly the creative process – thats when I’m feeling most content, when i’m actually feeling inspired & productive. I can get pretty depressed when the inspiration isn’t there, but have to remind myself that it comes in waves, like peaks & troughs. Even your muse deserves some time off I guess:) It’s also a satisfying feeling when I first get my hands on a new album or 12″. With so many releases these days going the digital only route I’m still quite old school. Opening up a box of my latest CD or Vinyl records for example & checking out the artwork is always an exciting moment. It kind of signifies a chapter marker to me, closure of that particular creative endeavor & onto the next! Another satisfying aspect I derive from my musical life is obviously the amazing feedback that comes in via myspace, forums, reviews & DJ reactions etc….. & there have been some magical responses to these latest two albums. Obviously you have to try not to take it all too seriously, because there will always be negative as well as positive feedback & my output does tend to polarize people! Many people really love it, which is fantastic, but there are certainly those that can’t stand it! ha ha:) so with that in mind I try not to get too carried away with the good reviews & reactions.
What does the future hold – what can the fans hope for from you?
Seb: Well, as long as I’m inspired to create then I hope I will be creating! I imagine there might be some darker sounding projects on the horizon, but time will tell. I have so many unfinished ideas on the go so it will depend on which ones actually get finished. One thing I know is that I’ve been so happy with Interchill & my musical relationship with them throughout the past 3 albums, that I hope there’ll be another Kaya Project album on the horizon through that label in the not too distant future. As for upcoming releases, well apart from these two albums there’s an upcoming Kaya Project track on the ‘Chime’ Compilation on the U.S. label ‘Ball of Waxx’. There are a few tracks on upcoming Exteme Sports DVDs & a TV commercial for Burton Snowboards that’s airing around now, & quite a few tracks have been popping up on TV shows here & there, which is fantastic. I also had some of my music premiered at the South Bank Centre in London last month, it was part of the ‘pants to poverty’ ethical clothing campaign, so as well as being a very worthy cause I got to check out my music on a big cinema screen, which is always inspiring. Hopefully there’ll be a few more TV bits coming up in the future as I really enjoy that kind of musical challenge.