KNOX: “Here” is here
KNOX is the band brainchild of brother-sister duo Nic and Eliza Coolidge. Hailing from Boston and New York, the siblings released their second EP, Here, on December 3rd, and it’s a big step forward for the band. Formed less than two years ago in March 2011, KNOX finds themselves working with the likes of John Tejada and kuxxan SUUM on only their release, and the outcome is stunning.
Here is five-song set full of ice and echoes. It runs close to the third rail of impersonation at times but flies away again so quickly that KNOX comes out sounding contextual but perfectly fresh. The influences from James Blake is clear: the swooping, bomber bass and half-timey compressed dub beats; Here could also easily be an inventive B-side to the latest How To Dress Well album. But with the limited scale, interspersed remixes, and foundling status in the scene, I’d say it’s likely a more impressive feat.
The EP as a whole is desolate. Expansive spaces filled with cold little beats and vocal washes, exploring in five songs an icescape aesthetic with the sense of place usually reserved for full-length albums. The remixes blend so seamlessly that I didn’t even realize they were during my first, casual listen. On every track Eliza’s voice is whispery but not weak, wandering roughly to its soulful fullest just before fading into production obscurities. KNOX calls themselves an “electro-acoustic project”, and it is impossible to tell where the line between the two elements exists. Here’s what they had to say about the EP.
RvD: You only released “To Rush, To Roar and Murmur” last year, and already “Here” debuted on Spin last month. What have the last 12 months been like?
K: It has been a whirlwind of a year. We were in the studio for most of those 12 months, writing and recording a lot of new material, pushing ourselves daily to progress and develop a sound. We also played a handful of shows in the Northeast of the US, which is always a blast. We can’t wait to be back on the road touring.
How was response to “To Rush”, and how do you expect to change with this new album?
The response to “To Rush, Roar & Murmur” was very encouraging. We didn’t have a clear idea of what our sound was going to be, in many ways we were just experimenting in the studio during the spring/ summer of 2011. That those experiments resulted in a small, cohesive sounding EP that was very exciting. It allowed us to identify ourselves and the music that we wanted to make. Our new EP “Here,” is a more confident release, with a wider array of aesthetics, including two killer remixes from kuxxan SUUM and John Tejada. There’s a little something for everyone.
One of the things that really stood out to me about “Here” is the re-mixes—they on don’t feel like interruptions or add-ons, but work toward the overall aesthetic and tone. Can you “talk” about working with John Tejada and kuxxan SUUM?
Well, we unfortunately didn’t get to really work much with John Tejada. Our manager/ label brought him on board to do the remix. When we heard the draft of the remix we were floored. Tejada just got it. Everything about the remix was so spot on, and what really excited us was that he used so many parts and sounds from the original track. It brought another dimension to the EP, since our music tends to be on the darker, slower side.
kuxxan SUUM we did work with quite a bit. We know kuxxan SUUM through mutual friends in NYC. We ended up bringing him on to DJ a big New Years Eve party with us last year and just hit it off. kuxxan is an animal, if you didn’t notice, that remix is in 3/4… but it just feels so natural and funky, he has such an acute sense of rhythm and flow. When we asked him to do the remix he mentioned wanting to try a 3 step feel. We were all for it! We just let him run with it and couldn’t be happier with the result.
I think “Here” is great work in a genre many artists are doing poorly right now. Who are some artists you think “get” where this music and where it’s going?
James Blake, Young Magic, Grouper, Grimes, Hildur Gudnadottir… to name a few. James Blake was a big inspiration to us. He had an immense effect on our production style. His music seems so free and uninhibited, we really tried to embrace that while recording this EP and throw the rules to the wind. Also, we did most of the recording and writing in the winter, underground in a basement, those dark months definitely translated into the more shadowy tones of the EP.
When do you expect to release a full-length?
We have been entertaining the idea of a full-length, but it’s too soon to tell at this point. There’s something so great about writing an EP. A lot of albums can be very inaccessible. The industry seems to still be very centered around the idea of the album but not a lot of artists. The EP allows you to focus on a particular sound, mood, or theme and just explore that on a smaller scale. Would you rather listen to an amazing fluid 5-song EP or a disjointed 14-song album that has 5 good tracks you like?