Kaltès took the time to answer our questions and it gave birth to pretty interesting interview. Enjoy the read!
- Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
I am a Belgo-Sicilian musician with a classical and jazz background who moved to Berlin 8 years ago and turned totally techno. In short.
- Let’s start with your alias. Kaltès is a tribute to the Chicks On Speed’s track : Kaltes Klares Wasser. To which extent has this electro clash band influenced your artistic world?
I love this cover of Chicks On Speed but my alias refers to the original Malaria version. I was about to visit Berlin for the very first time and a very good friend of mine introduced me to Gudrun Gut’s music. Her work amazed me right away and I started to research for more. Her view on music, her label Monika enterprise, it played a major role in my career.
- What other influences has brought you to techno in particular?
As I said the “after Gudrun” effect (laugh). Before I was mainly listening to jazz, soul, sufi music, flamenco, karnatic music,…
Then I started to listen to more “electronic” music, but that wasn’t techno yet. I had a phase right before moving away from Bruxelles where I was listening to a lot of punk rock, especially to “Bikini Kill”. Anger management, that was. Anger was a solid influence too. Techno really became for me a form of catharsis. Now after years in Berlin, which is definitely another great influence, my sound has become “harder”, “darker”. But it’s more about the empowering energy of techno now. Thanks also to Paula Temple, who’s music and view on the notion of “noise” did free something in me.
- How would you describe your current musical universe?
“It’s liquid, it’s living, a moving love defined by itself
There’s no rules, no convention.
This love can go wherever it wants”
(Planningtorock – Human Drama)
- You’re part of the female:pressure community. Can you tell us a bit about this network and how is it working?
female:pressure is an international network of women artists working in the field of electronic music. It was created in 1998 by Electric Indigo*, and counts today around 1700 members from 66 different countries. At first, creating this network was a way to address the misconception that there aren’t many female artists in the scene by giving access to a large database of artists while also offering visibility, connection and support to its members.
A lot of great initiatives have sprung from the network such as two “facts survey” that reveal shocking numbers on gender imbalance, Perspectives Festival in Berlin, the Rojava campaign, many different events, radio shows and much more…
- Being part of the curating team for the Perspectives festival, what was your impression about the last edition?
As a very proud “co-parent” of Perspectives Festival, I guess it’s hard for me to have a purely objective impression on the last edition. In the making, it was very rough and finding sponsors for such events is a real struggle. But the outcome was fantastic, thanks to all artists for their support. I believe such initiatives are, beyond the event itself, vital for what they bring in terms of dialogue, education, awareness, etc…
- Do you think that there is a positive evolution in female artist’s visibility in the techno scene?
There obviously are more and more women raising their voices against the situation and doing things by and for themselves, so on that side, yes. In the past years I believe the dialogue has intensified. Many new networks and collectives (Discwoman, Mahoyo, Siren, shesaidso, WMN!, etc) have seen the day and social media seem to address the topic a bit more. But practically, in terms of opportunity, access and visibility for women in the scene, we can’t speak of progress. Things aren’t moving. This will take more time, but it will happen. Because what I know for sure is that these women, they won’t stop. It will grow to a point you can’t pretend all is so cool and so equal and that the scene really “just is about music”.
- You’ve played a lot in Turkey in the few past years where you hosted among others, an event series called “It’s Not Only Techno, Baby!”. We’re curious to know what your connections with the Turkish scene are. By the way, what’s the story behind this event name?
How things started is a bit random, I was regularly visiting Istanbul for personal reasons and one thing leading to another I fastly started to organize nights there… How this stopped and how the connections got disrupted though is less anodyne. The last gig I was supposed to play there was on May 31, 2013. This is the day police violently evicted environmentalists camping out in Gezi Park. They set up barricades to prevent protesters to re-enter Taksim and fired tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons all day. People started to go out to join the protests. By the evening, it looked like the entire city was taking the streets. It was amazing.
For weeks and months after that Istanbul was upside down. I never got to play that gig, nor could set another one. The party I hosted stopped because of that. Everything was so uncertain that promoters couldn’t take risks and plan things. But I am happy I was there when it happened, with my friends, to support and witness these incredible events. I fell in love with Istanbul even more that time, seeing how its people protested. It was a very tense period of time, but also very intense and magic somehow. People were closer and cared for each other more. Resistance is a truly beautiful thing.
Well. I did go back to Istanbul since but I hope to be back again soon and revive that connection again, play there more often. Maybe host nights, who knows? I am surely open to proposals.
- Lately you got a residency in the Tresor New faces Wednesday parties. How did you get involved in this exciting concept and how do you choose your hosted artists?
I am hosting a regular female:pressure night at Tresor. After working together on several editions, Tresor simply proposed me to host a “New Faces” night, having in mind that my connection to the network and many women artists could bring a lot of “new faces”. I really like this concept, and I mean to use it to book artists who are worthy musically but have less opportunities due to discrimination.
- In addition of being a saxophone musician, you are a passionate collector of rare and strange instruments. What are the strangest instruments that your collection includes?
Mhhh… One I particularly like is a Shruti I brought back from India.
It is a tamil instrument used in carnatic music to accompany voice. It creates a circular drone sounds that is very soothing.
- Your biography mentions your affinity for Shamanism and ritualistic healing arts. Is the music you produce being part of this process?
Music is I believe THE thing in this world that keeps me alive and more or less sane. It always has a healing dimension to me but my production process doesn’t focus on that aspect. Even though techno is definitely good if you need to open your root chakra (laugh).
- How did you built the mix for Paradox?
Ohh gosh! Being conflicted I guess (laugh).
The idea of “paradox” did torment me a bit at first, but then I decided to give in to it. When building a podcast or a mix, I usually look for a kind of flow, of colour. A sort of “linear narration”, a coherent progression. Here I allowed changes of mind, direction, contradiction and maybe a tiny bit of inconsistency here and there.
I usually have an approximate idea on how things will develop when I start a podcast, a starting point, and ending track. A trajectory. But not this time.
Most tracks I ended up using were not even in my pre selected playlist. And so be it.
- Is there anything that you find paradoxical in the techno world?
Heck yes. The scene and its lack of diversity. it is so male dominated and so white. It’s infuriating, thinking of electronic and dance music’s history. It makes no sense. Especially as many define techno as “resistance music” when carefully avoiding any political issue.
- What techno artists/labels hold your attention in 2015?
Aïsha Devi, Borusiade, Cacophoneuses, We Will Fail, Sky Deep, Diane.
Label: Noise Manifesto, Danse Noire, Revellers Records.
- What can we expect from you in the near future?
More studio time. Let’s be optimistic and say a new Ep soon!