“As Kameleons, we love all colours so never expect it to be predictable.” An international shapeshifting duo, KMLN (pronounced “Kameleon”) unites Italian producer/multi-instrumentalist Christopher Tooker and Canadian producer/fashion designer Shawna Hofmann. The duo’s passion for travel and adventure may be witnessed in their ever-changing, transformative sets. As veterans among the festival circuit, this will be KMLN’s third year in a row at Lightning in a Bottle, but 2017 marks a special victory they tell us, “This year we’re playing the Woogie for the first time ever, so it’s kind of a milestone for us in that we feel we’re officially being recognized in the house/techno community for reals, no more underground only.” Check out what else KMLN had to say, as they head into LIB…
We heard you two met at a music festival. How was that, and how did KMLN evolve from meeting there? Does this mean you have a soft spot in your heart for festivals?
Yes, we met at Burning Man, at Disco Knights. It was a magical meant to be meeting in the perfect environment where we continue to thrive to this day. We believe in festivals as learning ground for humans to remember how to work/play/build/learn together as a modern new version of village… or community. It’s an aspect of the cure to what has led our world astray if you know what I mean 😉
When the two of you are collaborating and creating music, what does that process look like? Which aspects to the music do each of you bring?
Sometimes we each start tracks and pass them back and forth to work on, other times the process begins together. It’s great to have a partner’s outside ear because the biggest pitfall in production is to get lost in it and lose the refined ear of objectivity. Chris records a lot of the live instruments and I specialize in field recording and sample digging, both very important in the signature sound created.
You played the DoLab at Lightning in a bottle 2015, tell us about your experience. What are you most looking forward to about going again this year?
It’s true we played officially in 2015 on the Lightning Stage and that was a beautiful, giant stage to play on, however we played last year (2016) as well on both the Favela Stage and Village, which was a total blast! The Favela had us prime time Friday night where we got to play banging upper tempo techno and minimal sounds, still infused with worldly syncopated beats, but it was a fresh experience for us. Funny enough, we had only just learned that we both like minimal tech a couple weeks previous when we had the best dance of the year to our first time seeing Butch at Desert Hearts. And it was so sweet to play the more downtempo set of our spectrum for the Village, which is just the sweetest place to be at a fest seriously! This year we’re playing the Woogie for the first time ever, and it’s kind of a milestone for us in that we feel we’re officially being recognized in house/techno community for reals, no more underground only. We also get to play a new stage, called the Beacon on Thursday in the Compass area of LIB, which will be a lot of family vibes like the Village, but bigger. It’s a chance to play a lot of our slower productions that may not fit in the Woogie set.
What do you try to get out of the crowd when you’re playing festivals, what kind of experience do you want them to have?
We’re ALWAYS looking to bring the real dance out of people. We love for people to shed all inhibitions and completely lose themselves in the music. Our sets and productions are always a journey, and we see that creates an original experience for people. The live percussion aspect goes a long way to engage our audience, so they have a more participatory exchange as well.
There’s something about playing difficult environments that makes us stronger, in those moments it feels like as artists we are educating the crowd with new emotions and sounds.
Your spring tour consists of some pretty amazing and unique places including Goa, New Dehli, and Bali. How did you decide these stops for your tour?
Our winter/spring tour the last 3 months brought us to 14 countries around the world. Mostly, we chose the countries we’ve been longing to visit for a while, and others chose us. We both love and have a real sense for adventure, and through that we manage to attract beautiful connections to visit some very special places and be hosted by some very magical folks.
You just got done playing in Mumbai last month, how was that? How do you feel your music translated with the people there?
Haha! Funny you ask about that. It was by far the most challenging place to play. India still loves it’s trance, that’s the foundation of their electronic music scene. They’ve definitely been majorly diversifying for a long time it seems, however Trance still has its influence going strong. That being said, we had an amazing time playing regardless, especially in Goa where we were lucky enough to somehow play at the right time and place with a crowd that was totally open to our more eclectic ways. There’s something about playing difficult environments that makes us stronger, in those moments it feels like as artists we are educating the crowd with new emotions and sounds.
A funny part of our tour in India was the owner of an airline fell in love with us at one of the shows, so we ended up having first class treatment for the rest of the tour, somehow there would always be someone waiting for us at the airports. They would help us check in, go through security, access lounges and once landed on the other side there would be someone waiting as we stepped off the planes… next level!
Besides this 1% kind of treatment we were blessed with, a big love of our’s is always getting dirty with the locals and we have to say the culture there is incredible! The music, the people, the colours, the never ending beeping in the streets, the chaos, we loved all of it and learned so much… we can’t wait to be back!!
We believe in festivals as being learning grounds for humans to remember how to work/play/build/learn together as a modern new version of village… or community.
Shawna, we know you’re a fashion designer. Did your passion for music or design come first? Are there things that inspire you both musically and in design? Do these two go hand in hand for you, or do you draw inspiration differently for the two?
I’ve been a DJ in the underground festival scene and Burning Man (where I played 17 years in row) longer than I did fashion. And for a 10 year spell I was a performance artist, circus and ritual theatre, before that really existed in the scene… before there was much of a scene at all! Predating that, I carved for a living since I was 16 and traveled the planet on my own until I ended up in California (I’m Canadian). There is only art for me, it matters not so much which form it takes. I can say that music production is the most intricate art form I’ve ever taken on, therefore being the most challenging!
What is your best story since being on the road and going on tour together? What’s a moment you’ll both never forget?
That would have to be a few months ago, 4 hours deep in the Sahara desert visiting some nomadic herders, when a camel took off with my (Shawna’s) laptop in the morning before we mounted. It ran fast and hard for miles in the direction of Algeria with all the other percussion and food supplies we brought, flying off all akimbo.Fortunately, our Berber guide was young and wearing running shoes hahah! Pretty amusing, imagining my laptop in the hands of some Algerian border guards, looking at my photos getting a taste of our kind of lifestyle…
Where do you plan to go next musically?
Most of our releases to date have been more on the lower tempo zone, and though we will always keep that going, we are now in the studio filling out the up tempo spectrum. As Kameleons, we love all colours so never expect it to be predictable <3
Catch KMLN at Lightning in a Bottle by the Woogie Stage on Sunday, May 28 from 2:30 – 4:30 PM
Tickets for Lightning in a Bottle may be purchased here.