The Australian musician, film editor and visual artist BKLV has been a recent discovery for the team here at Insight, and with their somber single ‘Maya’ released last month on the label, it was time to find out more about the artist.
In this Insight interview, we talk to the multitalented creative about their current studio setup, musical influences and the future beyond the horizon.
Please tell us about yourself in a few words (who you are, where you’re from, what you do etc.)
I’m George, aka BKLV, I live in a coastal town an hour away from Sydney called Wollongong which is abundant in nature and has a plethora of beaches. I work as a videographer/photographer/editor which gives me a really good life-work balance to pursue my passions of music, health/fitness and meditation.
What’s the origin of your artist name BKLV?
Well, it actually started as a bit of joke when a friend and I started making music/beats. I called myself Baklava Beats as I come from Macedonian heritage and my mum makes a mean baklava. When I started getting serious I just took out the vowels to let it spell BKLV, now I’d like to look at it as standing for Be Kind Love Vishnu, but also it’s open to interpretation.
How long have you been writing/producing electronic music?
I started producing at the end of 2012 and took a hiatus from 2015 up until the start of 2020, although in that time I did teach myself some much needed music theory, mixing/mastering skills and kept my creativity flowing by painting and drawing.
What is your current approach to starting a new track?
I’d say just about every track of mine first starts with a simple melody or chord progression, just to set the mood and convey the vibe I’m going for. I’m a big fan of repeating and inverting motifs as I feel the melody really evokes the emotion, after that establishing some groove with percussion and drums, then basically just try my best to step out of the way and let the song write itself.
As an artist, what do you try to express through your music? A particular mood or feeling perhaps?
I’m just trying to express the inexpressible I guess, music, especially instrumental music transcends language and resonates with us via geometric frequencies stacking upon each other. I don’t think I’ve ever started a track and said “this is what it’s going to feel like.”
I’ve had this conversation with my dear friend Scott, and I think he put it well as you’re just trying to chase that feeling of when you hit that first melody/chord that was something special to you and extend on that.
Tell us a little about your current studio setup.
My current setup is as follows:
Ableton live 10
Hifiman sundara headphones
I’ve just had my studio room acoustically treated and the results are really incredible. A few inspirational paintings, a little shrine of small statues of Buddha, Ganesha and a shamans rattle from Peru.
I also have a Burmese cat called Neo, he is the ultimate studio/meditation companion, he likes to chill on my lap and hang in the studio on the Lovesac (giant bean bag made of durafoam/memory foam)
Who are your major musical influences?
There are so many to list but if I could really narrow it down it would be as follows:
Also just to note I listened to nothing but hip hop/rap from the ages of 12-20. It was only later that I started exploring other music.
What can fans expect to hear from you in your latest single release ‘Maya’?
A somber yet uplifting slow glitched out ambient track with a lot of spaciousness to explore.
How has your music evolved since you first began writing/producing music?
I think it has just gotten more and more complex, there was a lot of looping in my earlier tracks, and not too much progression. My music has become much more melodic and complex, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing but I think I’ve just become more aware of how much detail can be crammed into tracks while still remaining spacious.
Any particular artists you’d like to work with?
Anyone that’s released with Insight UK, or just about anybody out there making music, I think we can all learn from one another if we are open to collaboration.
What’s on the horizon for you musically?
That’s a tough one to predict, I can safely say more music though. I’d like to release two eps this year, one in the ambient/glitch genre which I’m close to having finished and another short EP of slapper/banger tracks with a nice sprinkling of melodic glitch vibes in there.
Any advice for those musicians just starting out?
To quote Pema Chödrön:
“Precision, Gentleness, and Letting Go.”
“The honesty of precision and the goodheartedness of gentleness are qualities of making friends with yourself… As you work with being really faithful to the technique and being as precise as you can and simultaneously as kind as you can, the ability to let go seems to happen to you. The discovery of your ability to let go spontaneously arises; you don’t force it. You shouldn’t be forcing accuracy or gentleness either, but while you could make a project out of accuracy, you could make a project out of gentleness, it’s hard to make a project out of letting go.”
If you can apply these steps from meditation to producing or learning music I feel they can take you a very very long way and keep the fire burning. It’s tough to not try and race to the finished product of a full track, we seem to forget how much work and time it takes to craft a masterpiece. We also forget that some of the musicians we idolize have been working on music longer than some of us have been alive or at minimum half of our lives.
Just show up everyday and do your best in that moment, you’re always learning as long as you’re trying new things or even just breaking down your favourite tracks.
What are three singles you would recommend we definitely check out?