Interview / Introducing... KOYO



Music Editor Alexia Kirov introduces KOYO, ahead of their (FREE!!) gig at The Louisiana this Monday (09/04/18) + a Q & A with singer/guitarist Huw Edwards.

Leeds five-piece KOYO are about to embark on a free-entry UK tour - and their first stop is at Bristol's Louisiana, on Monday night.

Their first single, the hypnotic 'Tetrachromat (Parts 1 & 2)', was released last March. There aren't many bands out there with a first single stretching out to a colossal 8 minutes and 8 seconds, but one listen to KOYO proves that they are quite unique.

Since then, they've released their eponymous debut album and have continued to enthral an ever-expanding fanbase. KOYO's sound has been described as 'Radiohead meets Hawkwind' by The Guardian: see if you agree and head down to The Louisiana on Monday night - it's free.

Until then, take a read of the singer/guitarist Huw Edwards'answers to Epigram's questions:

How did you come up with your name?

It’s the Japanese word for the leaves turning brown in the autumn. Jake (our keyboardist) stumbled upon when he was high and to tell you the truth we just liked the sound of it. We also felt it signified a transitional period because when we started KOYO it was a big shift for us stylistically. It’s just a bonus that it seems to work well as a metaphor for the progressive aspect of our music.

Your sound has been described as a mix between Radiohead and Hawkwind – how would you describe yourselves? Did those bands have a particular influence on you? If not, who else has?

Yeah of course, particularly Radiohead. Hawkwind not as much but we did record our album at ex-Hawkwind bassist Dave Anderson’s studio in Wales so that might have something to do with it. We’ve had space pop, nu-prog, indie prog amongst others. I like space pop, that’s pretty cool. If I had to say I’d probably go with that. Prog I don’t like as much because I think there’s a lot more to it than that. But if we represent some kind of modern nu-prog movement then that’s cool. I think it’s progressive not because our main influences are prog bands because they’re not, but because we’re influenced by so many different styles of music.

What are you listening to on tour at the moment? Do you all have similar taste or are there clashes?

I just watched a documentary on Netflix called The Defiant Ones about Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine so we’ve been going through Dr. Dre’s back catalogue. The man’s a genius. Kamaal Williams, one half of London based afrobeat funk jazz group Yusef Kamaal who blew us away with their first album and sadly disbanded shortly after. I've also been listening to producer Max Cooper a lot, incredible sounds.

Why did you choose to do a free-entry tour?

Nobody pays to go to shows anymore unless they’re already an established act. It’s incredibly difficult for young bands like ours to break through these days. People would rather save their money than take their chances on a band they’ve only heard about once. We want to give people a reason to come back and pay next time. Usually, it’s not until people have seen a band live that they’re 100% converted.

As you only formed in 2015, you’ve come very far in a short amount of time, having already released your debut album last year. What were your musical backgrounds before starting KOYO? Why do you think you’ve been able to achieve considerable success so quickly?

We’ve been playing in bands for over half of our lives. The thing with KOYO is we did a hell of a lot before we even presented anything to the world. So by the time we released our first song, we already had the album in the bag ready. Even now we’re always working at least a year ahead of ourselves so we can keep this momentum going. I think that’s the key.

Record Store Day is coming up later this month – what do you think about the current vinyl revival? Do you think there’s longevity in it in the current age of Spotify, or do you think it’s just a fad?

I think it’s great. It’s great for bands like us and it’s great for music in general. I think people should start valuing music more. I think if you buy a record on vinyl, you’re more likely to treat that record with respect and listen to the whole thing. And that way you’re more likely to educate yourself and give things a chance to grow on you. Streaming is great for different reasons such as being able to access so much music in the first place and I think it’ll be relevant for a long time yet. But one thing it isn’t good for is people’s attention spans. Some of the best music takes patience to be fully appreciated. With streaming, people just want a quick fix, but the risk with that is there’s less longevity.

Featured image: Mystic Sons PR / James Barker

KOYO play a free-entry show at The Louisiana Monday night (09/04/18). Tickets are available here.

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Alexia Kirov

Music Editor @ Epigram 2017-19 / Photo credit: Catarina Rodrigues, Barbican 2018