BEIRUT: Known for their minimal sounds and unique blends of piano, strings, with electronic synthesizers, the Icelandic duo Kiasmos became a distinguished sound in the electronic and ambient music scene.
The duo consists of winner of British Academy Film and Television Arts Award and composer Ólafur Arnalds; and acclaimed pianist, producer, and pop genius, Janus Rasmussen. They have already released two EPs, one album, and received over a million streams monthly on their Spotify.
Performing in Beirut earlier last year at The Grand Factory, the duo is familiar with the growing music scene of the capital. On September 1, Kiasmos was back again in Beirut’s Trainstation Mar Mikhael with a DJ set from Janus Rasmussen.
Annahar had the chance to sit down with Rasmussen and get an exclusive closer view into the creative process, group dynamics, and future projects that are happening behind the scenes.
Rasmussen told Annahar how his background as the singer and synth-player of an Electro-pop band was the first step towards meeting Arnaulds and the beginning of their melodic, seamlessly flowing musical collaboration.
“We would always play at a venue in Downtown Reykjavik, Olafur was the in-house sound technician of the venue and he already mixed for us a few times,” he said, adding: “After going on our tour for our first album all around Iceland, Ólafur and I became really good friends, and that’s how we started.”
Coming from a Rock and Roll background, as Rasmussen mentioned, the duo found it difficult to play hard-hitting techno.
“We were used to writing songs with a pop structure, as soon as we started making this type of music, it soon somehow came over us. We need a story in the song, so I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why we sound this way,” he added.
However, they’re not limited to this particular direction in music. Working on their new project, Kiasmos will take a different direction of sounds and loops, which they will be creating for their new to-be-announced EP and album to be released in the upcoming year.
Rasmussen further noted their music inspirations range between many genres and spectrums of music, emphasizing the importance of openness to each and every type of music possible in order to succeed as a producer.
“I’m into pop, and I make pop music on the side. While driving to the airport, we sometimes listen to Ariana Grande, we don’t care,” he told Annahar.
As for their group dynamics and live performances, the duo explained how they dedicate hours on end to producing their tracks, which start from a beat or a sound, and then both artists start adding layers by using loops, instruments, and ideas on top.
“It’s very random, we usually work in his room and we just start somewhere. We sometimes start from a beat and put anything over, something we recorded earlier. We’re trying to start in more unconventional places, sometimes without a beat and we don’t even talk about the BPM and see what happens,” Rasmussen said.
The duo continues to impress and charm their audiences with their live performances, which they pay extra attention and extreme detail to, especially that “it’s tricky to perform the set live, since it’s heavily produced and always evolving.”
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