The Year Of The Koi: A Chat With Koi Child

Fremantle seven piece band Koi Child are quickly becoming one of the country’s most hyped acts, and for good reason. With seven composers, each of their songs is a living, breathing organism that moves freely through a multitude of genres and styles, always sounding fresh and exciting. They’re on the verge of releasing their debut album, which was made with the help of one Kevin Parker of Tame Impala fame.

Having just wowed crowds at Golden Plains over the weekend, the seven piece are now gearing up for the remainder of their biggest tour yet, hitting Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney before returning home for what is sure to be a ripper hometown show. Before that however, we got to know them a little better and asked them a few questions before they hit the road again. You can check that out below, as well as their remaining tour dates below that. As for their album, you can wrap your ears around that come March 18th via Pilerats Records.

Congratulations on your album! How are you feeling about it all?

It’s a deep, deep relief to finally put it out! It’ll be interesting to see how everyone feels about it. It’s a very big thing for us; hopefully people dig it.

Working with Kevin Parker would have provided some invaluable lessons for you as a band. What is one thing you took away from that experience?

The thing I learned the most from Kev was the value of being able to think intuitively and creatively, and analytically at the same time – not getting lost in counterproductive impulses, and not getting lost in technical minutiae. He’s got a really smart way of thinking about making music that both respects the magic and directs it to where you want.

Do you think with the increasing popularity of acts like Thundercat, or Kendrick Lamar’s new direction in To Pimp A Butterfly and untitled, unmastered., people are more open to sounds like jazz that they might not have realised?

Pop-cultural phenomena like To Pimp A Butterfly, where there’s wide engagement with deep, sincere music, are rare and beautiful things worth examining. I think the term “jazz”, as applied to this kind of music, is a bit too broad to be useful – I remember Hiatus Kaiyote saying something like, “Anything that isn’t a major or minor chord gets called jazz,” which is pretty on point. I hope Kendrick’s success means people start embracing that kind of complexity and funk as a fundamental part of the music we could be listening to, rather than this outside or weird thing.

You’re a jazz infused hip-hop band and you worked with psychedelic rock/pop musician Kevin Parker for production duties – how important is that open, free-for-all approach when it comes to creating music and not restricting yourself to a genre? Do you see genres as a thing of the past?

I think “genre” is only a problem when it’s brought into a situation – like the making of music, or in extended discussion about music – where it becomes an arbitrary restriction. Genres are useful as a shorthand to talk about broad concepts in limited words, and that’s about it. Obsessing about either using or fitting a given genre is pointless.

One of you once compared your songwriting to a pizza in an interview with Pilerats, would you say you still follow this “formula” of sorts?

Hah, I think that was Jamie. I don’t know, I think for the next album, the less formula and structure there is to writing each tune, the better. If we’re doing more timbral or sample-based compositions, it’s cool to ditch the normal songwriting flow.

How do you get through any creative stalemates that may arise due to having seven composers all putting in for one song?

With great difficulty, heh. You’ve got to be able to justify instinctive compulsions with a lot of post-hoc rationalisation. It suuuuucks, but the end result usually justifies it.

You’ve said before that what binds you together is your mutual influences and music taste – are there any particular artists that get the Koi Child boys really excited when they come on?

Kendrick, Hiatus Kaiyote, Robert Glasper, The Roots, BadBadNotGood, Tame Impala 😉

You’ve now got your tour coming up, and touring with seven people can’t be easy. This is also your biggest tour yet, what are you looking forward to most? Are there any cities you’ve already played that you want to return to?

Touring’s actually the easy part! We usually grow closer with each tour. We just came from Golden Plains which may be the best festival we’ve ever been to, let alone played. Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Friendships were off the wall – great to finally see Sampa The Great too! I’ve also personally got a huge soft spot for Melbourne; last time we played it was one of the most vibing shows we’ve done.

What’s next from here?

We’re hoping to tour Australia again, keep beefing up our live set, and then hopefully tour internationally later in the year! We’re really keen to start writing and pouring tonnes of effort into the next record.

Remaining Koi Child tour dates:

Thursday 17 March
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC

Friday 18 March
The Brightside, Brisbane QLD

Saturday 19 March
Newtown Social Club, Sydney NSW

Saturday 2 April
The J Shed, Fremantle WA