Palmbomen II: Not just about palmtrees
Oh what a booking. But first, what an album. "Palmbomen II" was one of the highlights of my summer, together with all the sand and wind and flying carpets and shitty soundspeakers and beach and seagulls that surrounded me for two months. I do wonder what he will sound like in club surroundings, especially after finding out Kai Hugo is not such a big fan of clubs in general.
A very special guy Kai, originally from the Netherlands, was part of Red Bull Music Academy back in 2011 and is now part of the Los Angeles expat community. He will definitely be a highlight of the Briusly Gyvas! series in Opium, so let's sit back and read what he told me while resting before the final leg of his European tour for Palmbomen II.
Good morning. How are you?
Very tired as I have been touring extensively. I have some time off now so I’m just trying to get my life back together. I’m staying near Amsterdam at the moment, at my friend’s house and we’re working on my music together.
Los Angeles is your home now, right? When are you going to be back there?
The Lithuanian show is the last one, actually. Then I’ll spend one more week in Holland to relax, and then I have a show scheduled in Texas on October 1st.
What have been the hightlights of the tour?
Oh, it was so busy so it’s hard to remember. I have played on a few fun festivals, for example, Lowlands here in the Netherlands. I can’t remember any more, haha! I have to relax first and then I can think about the highlights. But all of it has been fun, basically, I do like playing around.
How long have you been working in the field of music?
I studied music and I graduated five years ago. But I have been involved in music since I was 17th – just buying synthesizers and other equipment.
What were your hobbies when you were a child?
I actually drew a lot when I was really little. I discovered Reason and similar software when I was about 13.
Were you an ethusiastic clubber?
No, I was never really into that. I love the music. I don’t like going to clubs and parties, I only go to see the certain artists that I really like. It’s hard to enjoy clubs when I don’t like the music so much. I then feel as if I am wasting my time when I could be making music.
How did you search for music that you liked when you were younger?
Internet was already pretty big back then so I found a lot of music online. Also record shops, of course. I used to visit one that was owned by Tiesto. He’s from my hometown and he had his own recordshop there called Magik Music where he sold CDs!
Did you like his selection?
No, not really, although it was pretty funny. There was another one nearby that was much better.
I do appreciate the Dutch electronic music scene, as I have learned a lot from it. Records from Legowelt and other Bunker artists, for example… Do you know Legowelt?!
Yes of course.
So yeah, that was really a big thing for me and I bought the Dutch stuff in my local record stores.
Did you also try to learn something from the way Legowelt and the likes make music and express themselves?
Legowelt for me is a really big hero. Me and my friends follow everything he does, and he does so much! I don’t think I sound the same and I don’t try to sound the same. What I like is his workflow and it really inspires me. He works a lot and he works really quickly.
When I started doing Palmbomen II, I started making a new song a day – all the tracks on the album are made like that. It works really well. I made a lot of songs and I didn’t keep on messing with them, didn’t bother working on little things. The sound is spontaneous and I like it.
They’re also very pure and fresh.
Yes, true, because they’re maximum one day old! It feels good and honest. That’s something I discovered while analyzing how Legowelt works – not copying his machines or something, but the workflow itself.
Palmbomen was actually a band. What are the other musicians doing right now?
I made the music, but I asked some musicians to play in the live band. I guess that’s what they’re doing now. I am now working with a new band in the US, so Palmbomen will be touring again. It’s going to be more of a traditional band – the first version was in the middle between that and electronics, but that didn’t really work out. So the electronics moved to Palmbomen II.
Do you imagine Palmbomen III happening some time in the future?
That’s of course always a possibility but for now it’s Palmbomen and Palmbomen II.
How did you decide to move to Los Angeles? Was it the city of your dreams?
It was actually pretty spontaneous. There were a lot of reasons for it; my booker and my manager were in L.A., and also I was going to release on Beats in Space through RVNG Intl. I wanted to focus on the US with my music so it was obvious I would need to be there physically.
I also started to work with music for films and films in general. I felt L.A. was a great place for that! Finally, my then-girfriend moved there from Miami, so it was a good time to try it out and go to see how it is.
I really love it. For me, it’s the best city ever. Also because of the weather. It’s so practical! I have a free-standing house by myself that has a garden, and, because it never rains and is really sunny, you can really have a stable life. I read outside every afternoon. It’s a nice little paradise.
Was it easy to get to know the local music and arts crowd?
I had a lot of friends there already. It felt so easy to mingle, I felt really at home. Two of my L.A. friends came with me on the European tour, we travelled around – it was great.
The music scene is quite different there. I moved to L.A. from Berlin, which is already the opposite of everything else in terms of electronic music. In L.A. it’s still kind of undiscovered and hidden. All the good parties happen in underground locations. Like the Faraway parties that happen in old warehouses outside the city. They’re set up really professional, it’s that there are no licenses etc. It’s really exciting to be there during this period.
Are people that come to your shows in the US and in Europe pretty much the same?
I can’t say there are any differences. Of course, it always depends on a venue. It might be harder for me to relax if the club is really fancy as I prefer rougher DIY stuff, but that can happen in any country.
Is the lo-fi sound that you’re trying to pursue also a statement against the cleanliness and fanciness of the worldwide clubbing industry in general?
I don’t make it lo-fi because I want to make it lo-fi per se. It’s just easier for me. I record a tape and it gets a great character directly. I can work quickly that way. And it’s true that I’m not into fancy clubbing, but I wouldn’t call it a statement. The whole flashy EDM world is definitely not a world I’m connected to. It’s so far away I don’t need to fight against it!
I think by now everyone knows you kind of like the X-Files. Are there any other TV series that you tend to binge watch?
I kind of stopped watching series because I got crazy of it. I do love the classic series, like X-Files and Twin Peaks, of course. Every time I start watching a modern one I feel like I am watching pulp. It kind of amuses me for a moment but I forget about that very quickly. Now I’m only watching important movies again and trying to finish all the important directors. That’s how I get inspired.
Has living in L.A. inspired you to make film scores?
I did a film score a few months ago and I’m now working on another one. I kind of like it. But I am also making films myself, and I like to work on scores for my own movies most. I’m really free when I do that. It’s a good combination to do both film and music.
What kind of movies have you produced scores for – not your own movies, I mean?
I just finished working on a Dutch movie. It’s called ‘Prince’. It was in the Berlin film festival. My score just got nominated for an important prize here in Holland.
I don’t know how cool I find it because in the end I didn’t really like the movie. But it’s funny, yeah.
I just did music for a SONY game called ‘Metrical’ as well! It’s a platform puzzle game, kind of artsy. It was interesting to see how it works.
Do you think a nomination for the best film score in Holland could make you more popular as an electronic music artist back home?
I don’t think I can get bigger here with my music. I don’t want to I' but I think I need other countries, as well. Holland is already saturated enough – I can play in every club here. It’s really small and that’s why I wanted to move away from here.
What do you miss most from home, anyway?
I miss bread. In the US, it’s terrible. In Holland, we have the best bread ever. I just made a decision I’m gonna buy a bread machine…
… And then you can open a bakery!
For sure. But first, for myself.
Palmbomen @ Facebook
D.D. 2004 - 2016
Degalai Mushroom CMS