how kllo are very politely taking over the world
After finding success in the UK, the Melbourne duo have their sights set on North America and the very real promise of global stardom.
Melbourne garage and electro pop duo Kllo are Simon Lam and Chloe Kaul, two cousins whose music mixes romantic synth soul with relaxed dance floor beats. They started out like so many family bands do, being pressed to play in front of someone's slightly drunk adult friends. But unlike the rest of us, who put our musical aspirations away with the punch bowl at the end of the night, Simon and Chloe kept at it. Lucky they did, since the launch of their first EP Cusp in 2014, they've been touring and gigging extensively, cultivating love and fans around the world. Next month they're releasing their new EP, Well Worn, and it's safe to say a lot of people are pumped.
We caught up with them during a rehearsal break to talk about making it big, so far away from home.
The first gig you did together was Simon's mum's 50th, is that right?
Simon: Kind of, it wasn't the first Kllo gig, but it was the first time me and Chloe played music together, it was made up of me Chloe and my three other siblings. It was just kind of the cheaper option, to have your kids play.
It's just good business. Sometimes it feels like people don't always appreciate everything that goes into an electronic set. Tell us about how you put together a show — you know, that's not at your mum's house.
Simon: Putting together an electronic set takes a long time compared to a band that's just got guitars and drums. There's a lot of work involved. A lot of the time we'll just spend one day getting a track right to play live. We might be energetic that day so the song will be energetic; the next day we'll try get a slower track in the set, and our mood just might be a bit calmer. Day-by-day you piece it together. Our mood swings show up in the set.
Chloe: Yeah we want that variance and a live aspect to our set. A lot of duos can fall in that trap of the producer pressing play and the singer singing in front, by drawing everything out we're making it more interactive.
There's a lot of UK influence in your music, when you headed over there was there a feeling of returning to the motherland?
Simon: There was definitely excitement around, with us wanting to find out about a certain culture, it did feel like a bit of a homage. It's pretty strange being so into a certain genre, and making a certain genre, from a place that's geographically so far from your own home.
It's strange when you idealise a place for so long and suddenly you're just there.
Chloe: Once you go over there, and you're going for the music, you realise how small Australia is, and how much more there is of what we're doing over there. It was definitely a bit of a confidence booster, because if they like us over there we must be on the right track.
Has that been the experience, being embraced as one of their own?
Chloe: That's kind of what's been happening. We didn't see ourselves at first as a UK garage kind of duo, but it's been the name that we've been given lately and I think we enjoy making music down that road, so it's definitely something we'll continue to do.
So you never started with a 10-point plan to get famous in the UK?
Simon: (Laughs) Yeah, we're not that smart.
Does it feel like there's a markedly different response between Australian and global audiences?
Simon: It's really funny to look at things like Spotify that show you where all your listens come from. I think the top four places we get listened to are all out of Australia, I don't know what that means.
Chloe: I think the first is like Brazil or somewhere?
Is there any chance of doing a tour of Brazil?
Simon: There hasn't been talk of it yet, but I'd absolutely love to. At the moment we're just trying to get back to Europe and do a North American tour.
We've talked a lot about the UK, but is North America where your eyes are now?
Chloe: Well we're signed with an American label—Ghostly International—at the moment.
Simon: We have a pretty good American presence online. And there's just such a huge market there, so many places to play. When you first start in Australia it's just kind of like Melbourne and Sydney are the first places, and then as you get more of a following you can expand to Brisbane, and then if you get more of a following, you add in Adelaide and Perth, and that's kind of it. But, even for our scale in America, there are just so, so many cities to play in.
The world is your oyster.
Check out an early stream of 'Well Worn' below.
Text Peter Clynes
Photography Ben Thomson