Kowton talks Bristol, Livity Sound and his love of the ongoing genre cycle
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Kowton talks Bristol, Livity Sound and his love of the ongoing genre cycle

Making up one third of the renowned Livity Sound collective, Joe Cowton, a.k.a Kowton, had a chat to us ahead of the second last leg of his Australian tour at GoodGod this Friday. Joe talked us through his experience working with Peverlist, the immersive Bristol music scene and the meditative nature of his live sets with Livity Sound.

Turns out the guy is a sucker for Australia and has fond memories of the place and playing to our crowds so we’d better welcome him back with open arms right?

SR: After touring Australia with Tessela last year, what are you looking forward to most on your second visit?

K: Playing at Good God I think – last time that was absolutely the highlight of the trip, such a great place to play. We pretty much had to go straight to the airport and fly home a couple of hours after the show but it was well worth it. Very sad to hear its closing.

SR: You’ve been rather prolific in the way of releases since you were last here in Australia. What do you put the productive streak down to?

K: Ha I thought I’d slowed down! If I put out a lost of music it’s just because that’s what I spend all my time doing when I’m not touring – all day, every day pretty much. I’ve been working on a bigger project that we’re going to announce in the new year and everything thats come out recently is just building up to that really.

SR: Peverelist, Asusu and yourself have been operating under the Livity Sound collective since 2011 now. How’s that experience been for you running a label and performing such intricate live sets? And how has it helped your own production?

K: Working with Pev has taught me a lot, especially with regard running the label. He’s very much the boss, but we’ve spent hundreds of hours the past few years going over and over stuff trying to work what we want and need to be doing in terms of direction: doing the live show was very much part of that.

It feels slowly as if we’re getting toward where we want to be at. The live show has to take a bit of a back seat while worked on other things but we’re hoping to bring that back soon. There’s only so much time to do things but performing live is something I love doing, it’s been amazing having the chance to do a project like Livity Sound with people as talented as Tom and Craig.

SR: With Livity Sound being a Bristol/London collective, two great cities that are entrenched into the musical tapestry of the UK, what do these two cities mean to you? Did experiences there inspire your move into music?

K: Yeah definitely – in Bristol I very much found my musical feet hanging out with Tom and working for Chris Farrell at Idle Hands record shop for a number of  years. The Bristol scene is completely immersive: all conversations revolve around music; all activities exist around music. Eventually it got a bit much for me hence the London move.

Being in London gives you so much more anonymity to just get on and do stuff – where I’m based in Peckham there’s a lot of music crew and its very motivating being there and surrounded by such creative people. The cost of living is also fairly motivational too!

SR: I recently watched a few of your live sets online and it’s refreshing to see electronic artists take that bold step further by going beyond DJ’ing. How do you compare the two disciplines? Is one more enriching and invigorating than the other? 

K: Live is certainly a lot more intense I find, it’s completely meditative in the sense that once we start thats it for the duration: complete focus. I love the scope it gives for restructuring existing material on the hoof,  I love too the sonic brutality you can achieve playing drum machines and old dub effects directly out of a sound system.

On the other hand DJ’ing is something that for me has always gone with making music; they’re two sides of the same coin. If you’re playing for three or four hours building something out of the music you have to hand thats a real skill. I’ve had some of the best times of my live DJ’ing at places like Berghain or Fabric, if a crowd is responding and you’re on form there’s no better feeling.

SR: You cover a diverse range of UK based genres, with grime, jungle and of course techno, just to name a few, all featuring in your releases and sets along the years. Where has all this inspiration come from?

K: Haha I don’t know – it’s just what I’ve always been into. I’ve been obsesseed in turn with Jungle, then Techno, then Dubstep and Grime, then Techno again, then Detroit House, then Techno again and so on – its just an ongoing cycle. I think we’re very lucky in the UK that there’s not much of a divide between scenes and with Livity stuff we seem to get booked across everything: in the past few months I’ve played with people like Slimzee and Bok Bok then Robert Hood and Lil Louis and not had to change my sound too much.

SR: You’re playing at some great venues on your tour here, including GoodGod in Sydney and the recently formed Jack Rabbit Slims in Perth. What can we expect to see from you this time around?

K: More of the same I guess: abstract UK sound-system tunes stitched together with a bunch of techno and house and maybe the odd grime banger at the end!

SR: Who are your top 3 up and coming producers at the moment?

  1. Batu
  2. Simo Cell
  3. Bruce.

SR: What’re your top 3 favourite tracks at the moment?

  1. Simo Cell – Piste Jaune
  2. Mosca – White Mice
  3. A Made Up Sound – Half Hour Jam On a Borrowed Synth

Grab tickets to the Sydney show here.

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