Cousins Simon Lam and Chloe Kaul hail from Melbourne, but their sound wouldn’t be amiss on the dance floors of East London. The electronic duo, who record as Kllo, draw on classic UK garage to craft their sensitive brand of dance music, layering Kaul’s seraphic tones over jittering 2-step rhythms. To celebrate the release of their sophomore EP, Well Worn, out today, we caught up with Simon and Chloe to see how these Aussie wunderkinds keep it in the family.
Since you two are cousins, did you bond over music early on, or did you link up later?
Simon: Definitely later.
Chloe: We weren’t very close until we started making music, actually. It was about three years ago.
Simon: I feel like we didn’t have much to talk about until we started. It kinda came together really quickly, kinda from nothing. We were both working on music separately in our own groups, but then when we came together we found that we had a lot of similarities and wanted to achieve the same things.
Were you both working in electronic genres when you first began collaborating?
Chloe: I wasn’t in the electronic scene. I was doing more folky stuff, like guitar and singing. Simon introduced me to that whole scene then we made heaps of electronic music.
Simon: I guess I was into more experimental stuff. I actually helped record some of Chloe’s solo music. With one of the recordings, we started creating a new song out of the vocals and ended up with some electronic stuff. I got her to sing some new melodies over the top and that’s how our first track was made.
You guys cite garage and 2-step as major influences. Considering those genres aren’t huge outside of the UK, how did you first get into them?
Simon: Australia doesn’t really have a strong history of electronic stuff. There’s a lot of rock ‘n’ roll, and there’s a really good jazz scene here as well, but electronic music isn’t what Australia was known for, so we’ve always had to look elsewhere for it. It was really exciting discovering that scene because I only got into it a few years ago. I remember hearing my first garage song, one of Four Tet’s Fabriclive recordings, and that was the tip of the iceberg.
Chloe, you exude a lot of vulnerability and bring deep emotion to the fore in your singing. Was that drawn from your folk background?
Chloe: I’ve always done it in the past where I’d do a lot of improvisation and sing a lot of soul music. I never really stopped singing and writing that way, even with electronic beats over the top. I’ve never gotten into that type of dance where it’s just vibes. I improvise and that’s what comes out of my mouth and I go from there.
Simon: It’s nice to have electronic dance music that has meaning rather than lyrics about just being in the club.
Chloe: Yeah, but at the same time I feel like I can go down that road very easily. When I improvise I tend to go down the sad road, and it gets dark. Maybe I should try to write some happy songs at some stage.
“Bolide.” the first single off the EP, refers to the scientific phenomenon of bright-burning meteors. What drew you to that image?
Chloe: A lot of it was improvisation again, the melodies and the vocals. I knew what I wanted to sing about, but I wanted something more interesting about it, and I came across the word ‘bolide’ and it just made sense. I think a lot of the time when I write I come across things and make them make sense in my own way. I read a lot of poems, like Oscar Wilde.
You changed your name from Klo to Kllo. Why?
Simon: When we made the name it wasn’t an issue, but as we started getting more reach and did a tour in Europe and got our music on Majestic Casual, which is a German-based YouTube channel, we found out that Klo is a slang word for toilet in German.
Chloe: It’s not nice on Google Images, being associated with that.
Simon: It’s not a bad problem to have. Just means we’re spreading to places we didn’t expect to.