Koba are a quartet based across Edinburgh and Glasgow who have taken the unique approach of working remotely. Their single ‘Rush’, released last month, marked a comeback for the atmospheric electronic outfit - we spoke to Jon Baird about their creative process and the inspiration for their new material.
We have written songs when some of us have been in different countries and the process doesn’t slow down despite the distance.
Tell us bit about yourselves - what led you all to forming Koba?
We all met through various music projects we had worked on previously. We knew we all had a connection and decided we could work on something completely different together, although we didn’t really know what initially. We took a fairly long period of time to develop our sound. We have quite a wide-ranging taste in music so tried out various genres, testing different instruments, sounds and samples. We demoed and demoed a mass catalogue of music until we got to the stage that we all felt that we had found what Koba was about.
Your style has been described as ‘atmospheric electronic’ music. What does that mean to you?
It’s difficult to say that we were aiming to be a particular genre or to fit a certain bill. We honestly just worked hard on writing songs we would listen to ourselves. We’re definitely electronic and love a lot of electronic music. I think that the atmospheric element possibly came from our love of soundtracks and experimenting with unusual soundscapes with the idea of creating a dark feeling within the songs. This is something that appeals to us more than writing ‘happy-go-lucky” pop tunes.
You’re based across Edinburgh and Glasgow so work ‘remotely’. What benefits does his bring?
I guess the real benefit is that we can write where ever we are. We have written songs when some of us have been in different countries and the process doesn’t slow down despite the distance. It’s a great way of working when we can’t all get into a studio at the same time. It’s quite an exciting way of writing.
And what are the challenges?
The main challenge is that it can be difficult to gauge exactly what everyone is thinking about an idea when it’s sent out by email or dropbox. We ping ideas back and forth to each other and It can be difficult to ascertain the tone of an email regarding the guys thoughts. That means that we have to be brutally honest and clear in our communication. For example, if I send out a verse idea and the guys don’t like it, they have to tell me “that’s awful” or else I’ll just keep developing it. We’re pretty good at being honest and not being insulted.
Your new single is ‘Rush’. When did you write it and what’s it about?
We wrote it last year. It actually began with a vocal Euan had been working on and we build the song around him. It’s about a girl from a different social circle and the uncomfortable and unusual first date.
How does ‘Rush’ develop your sound?
We actually went into the writing session with the intention of writing a song that had a dance feel to it. We had written quite a few slower songs just before that and felt that we wanted to do something a bit different. Strangely, as the song developed we found that it naturally wanted to be both slow and fast. I think we learned quite a lot from writing this track. We learned that a song will take you where it wants to and you just have to go with what feels right.
There’s a 1980s new romantic vibe about ‘Rush’. Was that deliberate?
We love 80’s music and we would never deny that we are heavily influenced by that era. Was it deliberate? No. Will we get that comparison again? Most likely. We stop short of make up, big hair and shoulder pads haha.
What are your hopes for the single?
We just want to get it out to as many people as we can and take it from there. More people seem to be taking notice everyday so we just want to grow that interest.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
Frank Ocean would definitely be up there. He is a true artist that does exactly what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. He has a certain element of mystery about him which is really attractive to us. Frank would be the dream!
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
I would probably go back to when I was in school and would have told me to get working on music production rather than just learning instruments. I have had to cram a lot of production learning into the last few years and I’m still learning daily. If I had started when I was at school, I could potentially be Skrillex by now haha.
Finally, if you could wish for one thing to happen to the band in 2017, what would it be?
I did say collaborating with Frank Ocean would be the dream, but to be honest just getting on a few festival bills in Scotland would amazing! Hopefully the right people hear our music and think we’re worth a go.
Listen to ‘Rush’ on SoundCloud below. For news and tour dates visit the Koba Facebook page.