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Kllo Bare It All on ‘Backwater’

Hayley Louse Brown
Hayley Louse Brown

Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam have known each other their entire lives. However, they didn’t become close until a fateful performance at Lam’s mom’s 50th birthday party. Since then, the Melbourne-bred cousins have become closer than they ever thought possible, and they have a love of music to thank for that.

Fast forward a few years, and the two are making emotive electro-pop under the moniker Kllo, touring the world and celebrating the release of their debut full-length album, Backwater. Pulling from the lush electronic landscapes of The xx and emotional honesty of artists like Lauryn Hill and James Blake, Kaul and Lam leave their hearts on their sleeves with every song they write.

We had a chance to talk with the duo about Backwater, non-stop touring and the special feeling of going on their first headlining tour overseas.

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You recently released your debut full-length album Backwater. How does it feel to have it out in the world?

Simon Lam: A bit surreal. It’s been such a long time coming. I think after the first EP we were thinking about albums, but then we decided to go with another EP, and that album’s always been that looming thing in the future, where you know it’s coming but you can’t envision it happening.

Chloe Kaul: It’s like you’re so invested and you’re so close up and personal with the album and the writing process, and now that it’s out I feel a bit more distant to it. It’s like, on to the next chapter, I guess.

Lam: Yeah, it’s so literally been packaged up and sent out, and you kind of wave goodbye to it.

The album’s lyrics sound deeply personal. What inspired them?

Kaul: My relationship at the time, the struggles with that. One of the songs is about writer’s block. I think a lot of it’s about feeling stagnant whilst moving around in a progressing environment. Sort of putting our lives on hold and living this whole new life on tour. We had no choice but to write it in that state, and it just felt the most honest to write about that stuff. I think both of us were going through that at the time, and that’s what the album ended up being — our therapy in a way.

Now, having gone through that and hashed out those feelings, how does it feel to be on the road again?

Kaul: I feel more confident.

Lam: There’s always a perception of a band traveling around. With social media, you’re putting up pictures from different cities and different clubs and all those things, and from an outsider’s perspective it looks kind of luscious and just a dream almost, but I think having the album out there will help people understand us a little more. Touring the world is great, but it is a lot of work and has a lot of personal strain. Hopefully that helps people understand where we’re coming from, and it does come from a place of passion.

Kaul: I feel like just having an album out… Everything we’ve ever put out is everything we’ve made, really. We’ve only got a couple tracks that haven’t made it out into the world. I think as we’ve gone on we’ve progressed as a band. We’re a lot more confident in our sound, and this is the first proper headline tour — we’ve never done a headline tour overseas — so it’s different. This is us; we’re not just supporting other people. We’re finding our sound and what we are as artists, and showing that to the world.

It’s gotta feel special knowing those people are there to see you.

Lam: Yeah, the shows are a lot smaller than they were when we were supporting other bands, but it’s a lot more meaningful this way. Far more rewarding.

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