Pleasurekraft | Interview
Last month, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Kaveh Soroush of the all mighty duo, Pleasurekraft. We were tucked away in a comfortable corner booth at the regal Intercontinental Hotel in the heart of Montreal’s Old Port. Two minutes into the interview a fair sized contingent of YMCMB strolled past our booth. Kalle Ronngardh, the other half, was hard at work producing at their studio in Stockholm at this time.
LL: Who do you trust to get an honest evaluation of your tracks?
Kaveh: At this point now, its kinda’ like you get to a point when you’re working with your partner where you’ve reached a level where your releasing on labels, and there’s an audience that’s waiting for your music… basically, your seal of approval has already been stamped as soon as you’ve got a couple hits, so once you get to that point, in our case its two people, you’re always sending stuff back and forth. You throw away the first hundred tracks when your comin’ up and you’re learning how to do everything but you get to a point where you trust yourself and trust in the people you’re working with and also now we have management as well so, our management, our agents….I think everyone questions their art when they’re making it. Hopefully you get to a point, where you know its not…well, you hope its not crap (laughs)
LL: Do you release most every track that you work on? Or are there many tracks on your hard-drive that never see the light of day?
Kaveh: There are not a lot of finished tracks that don’t see the light of day, and there are a lot of ”sketches” for tracks that don’t for whatever reason. I mean, we’d kinda’ start on a tangent, Kalle would start something, send it to me, I’d be like “yeah, lets do this,” add something here, send it back to him, and then he’ll kinda work on it some more, and we may realize that the two ideas don’t jive well together. Then its back to the drawing board. We both have slight musical A.D.D., so if we work on something too much, too long, and its not amazing after a little bit its kind of like oh fuck this I’m bored, start from scratch again. You know?
LL: In an interview with Dirtie Clouds in January of 2011, you stated “we like tracks that have a narrative, musically. I want to ask; who, in your eyes, are a couple people that exemplify this?
Kaveh: A couple of people that I’m really into right now… like Mike Vale for instance. He kinda’ has that very visual approach; almost a cinematic one. A lot of Format B’s tracks I think as well. Its more than that, though. It seems obvious to me that these guys use influences that are outside of electronic music and that’s what makes their electronic music so interesting. It’s really boring when you’re a techno artist, all you listen to is techno, and you make techno. But take for example Format B, for : Yeah, its techno. I don’t play a lot of techno, but I play Format B because their techno has soul. You listen to their records and you know their listening to Jazz, Blues, R&B… it all comes through when you’re listening to their tracks.
LL: To keep on the topic of things Cinematic, you became known, for a while, to be using a SVM1000 Mixer (an audio and/or video mixer). Was this simply a phase on your path to where you are now?
Kaveh: That was kind of early on, because we were trying to work in some visual things, but that mixer (Pioneer SVM1000) is the mixer that Sander Kleinenberg uses a lot, because he does a lot of D/VJ stuff. I went to school for film, so, naturally, I’m into combining visuals with music, but the problem is that that mixer is such a pain in the ass, and its unbelievably expensive. Most clubs don’t have it, or don’t have access to it. To rent one for a club can be thousands of dollars, and that really limits what clubs you can play at. So if we’re lucky enough to get to the point where the touring and booking fees are outrageous, then we can take a mixer like that on the road, but right now it doesn’t make enough sense.
LL: So you are in a bit of a long-distance relationship with your other half, Kalle. Could give our readers a little bit of a rundown on what exactly that means? It seems like you both have stood strong for the necessity of being a duo, and that you both wouldn’t have been able to do this with the other.
Kaveh: For sure, I don’t think either one of us would be where we are without the other person. Now, with the touring thing, we kind of split duties. We have a studio in Stockholm where Kalle works out of. I do the touring and DJing, and he sends me stuff on the road. Since he is stationary in Stockholm he is working on the majority of the production stuff. I started out a DJ around the same time as he started producing, so it also hugely plays to our strengths. Kalle doesn’t really like getting in front of a bunch of people and being the center of attention, but he loves being in a studio working on tracks. I love getting up there and getting a room’s hands in the air. I do love working on the musical stuff a lot also.
We came from two very different musical backgrounds. He started out in a studio doing electronic music, and I started out in rock and metal bands. I started out playing drums then bass then guitar. I didn’t get into electronic music, as in club-electronic-music, until 2002, when I started learning how to DJ.
LL: When your influences are brought up, you guys tend to use a lot of carnival vocabulary. Could you outline your infatuation with these circus-like atmospheres that almost define your sound?
Kaveh: It’s funny because we both just really like that circusy side-showy thing. I don’t know if you watch many David Lynch movies or not, but there’s this kind of exterior that seems like everything’s good in the world, but there is this really dark underbelly that kind of taints the good mood of the film’s exterior. I guess, sonically, that’s what we’re drawn to. I think Tarantula is a really dark track, but then I know a lot of people that call that their “feel-good song.” – which to me is really weird! I think more than just the carnival stuff, its the stuff outside the realm of electronic music that influences us: with Kalle, it’s a lot of good pop stuff. Myself, the first tape I ever bought was Low-End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest. I was really into hip-hop and still am, and am also really into metal and rock. Deftones and Tool are two of my favorite bands. Doing electronic music is such a far cry from that stuff, but it’s still what is closest to my heart.
LL: What tracks and/or artists comprise your personal soundtrack right now?
Kaveh: Well, I really gotta’ stop sweating this guy, but I’m in love with the Weeknd. He’s incredible. But Kalle and I tend to pay more attention to the producers rather than the artists because a lot of people just see the face. For the most part, they just show up to the studio, sing what other people wrote for ‘em, take the paycheque and go home. Thats not a reference to the Weeknd by the way – thats a reference to your average pop icon. Me, I love Kanye West’s productions. Timbaland we both love. Neptunes we both love. I also really love this guy named Noah “40” Shebib from Toronto. He produces a lot of Drake‘s darker stuff. I think he’s an incredible producer.
LL: If you were receiving an Oscar right now, whom would you thank?
Kaveh: I would have to say John Acquaviva. He was really supportive, and somewhat of a mentor when we were coming up. There were moments I was ready to call it quits as Kalle and I both had spent years doing this before Tarantula came out – and John was always very motivational. As far as one person from the music scene, it would have to be him.
LL: Thanks for your time Kaveh.
K: Thank you.
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[photo by Ed G]