Photo by Nick Lapien
We’re all looking forward to tomorrow’s live performance by Amsterdam’s Palmbomen at Bar here in Miami. We’ve been in correspondence with the folks from NON Records for a while now and it’s definitely been a pleasure working with this young label. We featured Palmbomen months ago when we discovered him on the latest Kitsunè compilation. Now we’re getting a bit more personal with an exclusive interview with the man behind the palm tree, Kai Hugo.
ND: Tell us about yourself. How did you start producing music and what are your influences?
Hugo: Hey! Ok, so my name is Kai Hugo, producer and musician. Producing music came very naturally for me, I started out when I was very young when my mother bought me a small Casio keyboard, a few years later I found myself collecting all kinds of synths and gear. My main musical influences, at the moment, vary from 60’s pop and early eighties italo disco. Always have been actually, but in between I’ve made a lot of safaris through French house and all kinds of danceable music being out of the ordinary, something else that always has been very valuable to me and my friends at NON Records is Dutch electro, such as Legowelt, I-F and everything associated with The Hague’s Bunker Records.
ND: Palmbomen means ‘Palm Trees’ in Dutch. We have plenty of those here in Miami. What inspired the name?
Hugo: Obviously, in Holland we don’t have any palmbomen, except inflatable ones in what we call ‘subtropical swimming paradise’ isolated swimming areas scattered throughout holland. So thinking of a palm tree in holland is always thinking of something better, or maybe something fictional. Hopelessly trying to recreate that by faking it. Maybe there a little of that in my music.
ND: We find that with one-person electronic acts, live shows can be challenging. How do you bring the energy of a 4 piece band?
Hugo: Good question! No really, that’s a very good question because that always has been my main goal and challenge. With NON Records we’ve always been bored with one-man laptop acts, especially because we love so much music, it’s always a bit dissappointing to see that they bring it live with nothing but an apple logo. You see now that everyone who agrees on that is trying to find new ways to create an interesting live act. What I do live is a blend of lively analog synths being played and tweaked live, and a heavily emphasizing light set, that reacts to what I do live. I’ve programmed my own software to communicate with a 16-piece LED bar set-up, and the results have been nice, even though I’d like to take it to the next level soon, I’ve been really enjoying it and I think it makes for a satisfying live experience. The synergy of a 4-piece band of course, is quite hard to replace, the drummer, sweaty and working hard to maintain the energy, a guitarist making signature moves and so on and so on. But this is electronic music (mostly) and there are acceptable boundaries.
ND: Is this your first visit to Miami?
Hugo: No I’ve been last year with my friend Bear, to promote the label, and meet some people, no gigs.
ND: Tell us about NON Records and your work with them.
Hugo: NON Records is a very young label founded and owned by a friend of mine, I’ve been there from the beginning. Interesting is that NON Records had a very easy visual signature, which I guess is very important these days. It made us recognizable and within weeks everyone in Holland knew we were there.
Almost from day one we’ve been throwing parties in Melkweg (great venue in Amsterdam) with some of our heroes like Alan Braxe, Bibio, Jimmy Edgar, Zombie Nation, Late Of The Pier, TWR72, Orgue Electronique etc. and put our own live acts against it.
ND: You were selected for the most recent Kitsunè compilation. That’s kind of a big deal. Have you received more interest in your music since it came out?
Hugo: Yes, there are a lot of cool things coming up, unfortunately I can’t tell the coolest things. I’ve been asked to do some remixes for some big names and to co-produce some records.
ND: What’s next for Palmbomen?
Hugo: My album, and I’m working on my next live set, also I am producing some records with Bear for NON Records, doing more remixes. We’re also working together to create interesting live experiences for NON Records, working with lights and even lasers soon… but always dictated by the quality of the music, which is the most important.
Also, my remix for The Aikiu is coming out next week. It’ll be released through Abracada (FR) on an EP with more remixes by Brodinski and The Magician.
Posted by Patrick