COSMIC ROUNDUP: KUNAL FROM CHAOS THEORY
Kunal has been relentlessly putting on varied gigs for nearly 10 years. Legend. Next year appears to be the biggest with a takeover at the Dome on February 29th for a 10 years of Chaos Theory party. I'll be there spilling stuff, let's see what he thinks about things and stuff.
Hi Kunal, how are you?
Alright. Feel a bit gassy.
For those that don’t know. Tell us more about Chaos Theory, the history and the ethos.
In a nutshell, it's a collective of people who help to organise, promote and manage gigs that focus on musicians trying out new ideas, or combining existing ideas in new ways, at the very least. We don't focus on any genre because that's too limiting and increasingly difficult to define anyway. It started off with just myself trying to hold things together, then, over the years, these masochistic creatives and supporters started throwing themselves into the mix, and now we have a team of amazing individuals who take something they're passionate about and use it to help promote great things made by other passionate people. It's also very much about who we promote to. We are fueled by the hardcore scene fans who know where to find the most obscure gigs, and we're fueled by the open, positive curious types who have no idea what they're about to see but want to feel something different. We want to make sure that everyone feels that they'll be able to show up and enjoy gigs on any level. Snobbery is a barrier to connecting audiences, so that's something that we don't get from any of the artists, crew and audience involved. We want to make the events as inclusive as possible, because we want to see more people out at all gigs and experiencing art and music in the flesh.
Chaos Theory seems to have evolved recently, fewer gigs but much bigger. Was this a deliberate move?
It's a chicken and egg sort of thing. Obviously we've seen quite a lot of venues shutting down over the years, as the desperate government claws at cash from developers (just stopped myself from a ten-page rant, back on topic), while the venues that remain have made some serious investments to keep them afloat. Some venues I used for regular smaller gigs had to charge more as a result, which became a bit costly for unknown bands, as not enough people would be motivated to come for the ticket prices I had to start charging. This is not a problem with the venues, they're doing what they can, it's just the way it goes in a system so open to greed on an industrial scale. So in that sense, the ever-changing landscape of London affected that decision. But also, we started doing more album launches, special shows, etc and I found myself in a position where I needed to promote a big show in three months, but had three monthly slots with another venue to fill, even though no one was really asking for gigs on those dates. There was a time when all our monthly (and weekly, once upon a time) gigs were helpful in building up interest in coming out to see new bands, but now it seemed to be taking energy away from what we really should be focusing on. So it kind of just progressed naturally and made sense to grow this way.
Tell us some new killer bands in London that we should be keeping an eye on.
A Sweet Niche are the ones to watch. They've evolved from a trio into a nine-piece band, have some serious compositional skills and fuse punk, jazz and rock in ways I've not quite heard done before. They're on about incorporating visuals in future as well. I advise everyone to make time to see them if the nine of them manage to get together on a stage. I also saw X'ed Out play their first gig at Human Worth last week. They were excellent. I'm very intrigued about Lia Mice, and totally love the perfectionist attitude and anarchist approach of producer Metalogue. Nøught have been going for over twenty years, but that band has less on record than any new band, so still worth a mention. Just see them live and maybe a new album will come one day.
The 10 Years of Chaos Theory Festival looks insane, tell us more about it.
Thanks. Funnily enough, it's a one-day festival to celebrate the music, the people, the scene that Chaos Theory has been a part of for ten years. It's kind of like a taster for the types of gigs we organise throughout the year, although we never manage to cover every scene we work within these annual events. This one is the biggest event we've ever run or been a part of, featuring bands we've worked with, bands we've always wanted to work with and some special new projects, comebacks, UK premieres and UK exclusives. Even with artists we're familiar with, it's very flattering that some of them are preparing special sets for this one, which will make it a new experience even for long-term fans like me. I am also very happy with myself for realising early on that I would want to party like mad with everyone who's there by the end, so underground IDM clubnight promoters Towards Collapse kindly agreed to the Towards Collapse Takeover from 11pm, with a lineup of weird and jawgroppingly banging producers from around the world. It's going to introduce us all to another great scene in London.
What was the best gig you put on in 2019?
All of them.
Best gig you attended?
Too many great moments. I had a really great night in by myself once; low lights, watching bleak-ass films, learning how to make miserable dronescapes, eating vegan Ben & Jerry's (I'm not vegan but tastes as good so screw it). That's really much more newsworthy. I don't make time for nights like that any more, because there are just so many great gig, club and artistic experiences happening in London all the time.
Best festival you attended?
Cardiff Psych & Noise Fest. Relentlessly great bands all weekend. Three venues on one chilled street, where everyone was hanging out, super easy, great, great music, enough variety for people to have totally different experiences from each other. It's a community, a scene, but well run and amazingly curated. It's what I wish every city festival was like in the UK, reminds me of early Desertfest days before they had to start spacing out the venues.
What are your favourite releases from 2019?
E-L-R - Mænad
Zu - Terminalia Amazonia
Teeth Of The Sea - Wraith
Ithaca - The Language Of Injury
Memory Of Elephants - Beachballin'
Ante-Inferno - On The Precipice Of Life & Death
Cult Of Luna - A Dawn To Fear
Amon Tobin - Fear In A Handful Of Dust
Kali Malone - The Sacrificial Code
Jøtnarr - Jøtnarr
Metalogue - Icon Of Extinction
UKAEA - Dead Paths
PSOTY - Sunless
Colossal Squid - Swungert
What the hell are you up to next year?
Organising 10 Years Of Chaos, got a few gigs already lineup up from March to May, and will be announcing stuff later in the year soon. Generally keeping on with gigs. I'd like to revisit an idea I used to try in smaller venues up until about 2014, and try to work with visual artists and lighting engineers to create more of an experience and make the events about other types of creativity on top of music. Maybe more performance art events too. Who knows? Let's just see what happens. Generally, I want to keep trying to open doors for artists of all types and fans of "something different", and see what comes of it. I'm also getting invited to DJ at all Cosmic Carnage gigs going forward.
Photo by Chris Purdie from Riff.Underground
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