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Kelpe

KelpeUK producer Kelpe performs at Slanted & Enchanted this Saturday, December 7, at The Bakery. ALEX GRIFFIN reports.

For someone who has played alongside the likes of Aphex Twin and Ghostpoet, Kelpe (a.k.a. Kel McKeown) has done a good job flying under the radar so far.

Long touted as one of Britain’s most beguiling producers, his new album, Fourth: Golden Eagle, boasts some of the most ebullient cover art of the year and contents to match, cycling through sunbursts of skittering beats that feel like ball bearings tumbling against a surfboard. Being the product of a lengthy gestation period (his last full-length, Cambio Wechsel, arrived in 2009), McKeown is hesitant to attach any labels to Fourth, but there’s a definite thread of escapism that runs through the LP.

“With the music, it’s hard to pin it down to any one feeling because I was writing and recording it over a long time, but it definitely has a summery feeling in comparison to the other stuff I’ve done. A lot of music you hear coming out of London has a dark feel – things get like that in England, not much light here – but I was trying to do something a bit more optimistic. I’m glad it turned out that way!”

The painstaking craft involved in producing something as detailed as Beaks Of Eagles comes from McKeown’s restlessness and unwillingness to compromise or take shortcuts. “It’s an ambition to have a lot of emotion and energy,” he says. “I really like music that’s characteristic and got something a little bit different about it. A lot of electronic music can sound generic and thrown together, like someone has just bashed it out on software in a few hours. That stuff just sounds kinda cold. With this way of recording, where I’m playing live instruments, I guess I’m trying to keep as much feeling in there as possible.”

Kelpe is another soul in the procession of young, talented international beatmakers that have been beating (sorry) down the previously unfamiliar path to Australia in recent years – a flow of overseas talent that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. McKeown’s dates this month are set to be his first shows in Australia, including a set at The Bakery leg of the pretty-incredible Slanted & Enchanted fest, and by the sounds of things he’s as excited to come down here as people are to see him.

“I never had any idea that I could do it! I haven’t toured America aside from a couple of small gigs and a bus tour, so I haven’t been down the normal path that people take. Over here in Britain, we really have no idea how much of a market there is over there for what it is we do, so it was quite strange to get asked to come over. I have visited on holiday but I didn’t get to see any music, so I don’t have any idea of what the scene is like.”

Besides keeping busy on the music front, McKeown can now add ‘entrepreneur’ to his CV, as Fourth marks the debut release on his new record label, DRUT Recordings. Though many find striking out on their own a nest of vipers, Kelpe’s found the weather pretty easy going so far.

“I’m enjoying it!” he laughs. “It’s really rewarding and satisfying to be back in charge of things. Things have been time consuming, but at the end of the day it’s nice to have control.”

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