CLUE TO KALO
Mark Mitchell hails from Adelaide, an Australian town so whitebread that it's referred to as the "city of churches". But Mitchell authors some seriously sterling sentimental electronics in spite of his surroundings. After a debut disc under the name Super Science, the budding electro boffin was forced to sit through years of contractual wrangling with the Surgery label, finally coming out the other side free to hook up with Leaf in the UK and Mush in the US. His new debut as Clue to Kalo, Come Here When You Sleepwalk, finds Mitchell stirring up opaque layers of dewy beats and dangling guitars and digital hum, topping it off with circumspect singing whose words bare the cross of star-crossed love.
Mitchell's music-making beginning started like so many electro kids. "I started off learning the piano, and I gave up on that, then I started guitar, and I gave up on that," he says. His dad bought the obligatory computer-with-crappy-soundcard when Mark was 15, and he started out with his first beat-making baby steps.
Performing as Super Science, Mitchell played at various shows by himself, seeming almost the embodiment of the sensitive-teenage-dork as he sat, glassy eyed, under the cold blue light of his own computer. His live-show incarnation for Clue to Kalo has taken on a different form, however.
"I know that when I go to a show I'm not that interested in seeing people sitting behind laptops," he says. "I got bored playing by myself, I got really bored with seeing other people doing what I was doing."
So, when there was talk of Mitchell going on tour as Clue to Kalo with folks like Themselves and Boom Bip, it convinced him to change live-show tack. "Given that I was going to be touring with hip-hop acts, and hip-hop is such a performative style of music, I knew if they had me sitting behind a laptop in the midst of this, it wouldn't work," he says. "That was the impetus for me to do something I'd wanted for a while, which is make a live-band around my stuff."
Now live shows find Mitchell with laptop and sequencer, backed by drums and guitar; the combo seeming like something I'd wanted to for while, which is make a live-band around my stuff."
Now live shows find Mitchell with laptop and sequencer, backed by drums and guitar; the combo seeming like some soft-hearted emo-electro outfit as the real-instruments bed down behind Mitchell's quiet crooning. As for what he sings, lines like "I'd like to love you/ but I'd like a lot of things" kinda show where the words are at.
"I wanted the lyrics to be love-song lyrics," Mitchell says. "Not just because I wanted to write cheesy love-songs-because these words are serious, and they are representative of something that's going on in my life-but because I thought having these love song lyrics overlaying squelches coming out of synthesizers made for a nice contrast that I find kinda funny."
"I wanted to strike some kind of balance between familiarity - the singing, what the lyrics are about, almost poppy melody lines - and sounds that might be unfamiliar, like messed-up sounds from my synthesizer when it craps itself, in a way, which I then programmed into rhythms. I like that idea of contrasting straightforwardness in lyrics and chord-progressions with stuff that people may be unfamiliar with; the whole idea trying to make something that is comforting and disconcerting at the same time."