Ahead of this year's Supersonic festival, which kicks off in Digbeth, Birmingham today, we caught up with prog experimenter KK Null to find out why he was excited to be playing

Kazuyuki Kishino, aka Tokyo-based arch-experimenter KK Null, is going to be a busy man at Supersonic this weekend. He last played the festival in 2010, with landmark sets from his prog-hardcore veterans Zeni Geva and a collaboration with noise collective Lash Frenzy. This year, he’s back with ZG, for a midnight show on Saturday, a solo set on Sunday evening and a collaborative piece with drone doom tube duo Ore, following on from the LF performance, which featured Ore tubist Sam Underwood.

We caught up with KK ahead of the shows to talk about spending a lifetime working on avantgarde music and get a few hints of what to expect.

After spending so long within the music scene, how do you keep yourself inspired and able to remain relevant? Does playing a relatively non-commercial style of music help you avoid following a lot of the common trends around nowadays?

Kazuyuki Kishino: Simply say, basically just I like to create something with sound, love to play music, it’s my nature. I’m not interested in becoming popular in terms of commercialism, so I don’t have to follow the trends and fashions. Just I’m doing what I’m interested in and what I want to do, and so if you do something that interests your, attracts you, entertains you, it must do the same to others, I believe.

Following on from the previous question, both of you (KK and Zeni Geva drummer Tatsuya Yoshida) are playing at Supersonic with your other projects (KK Null and Ruins Alone respectively). Does playing via these other channels again lend itself to keeping the output and vision of Zeni Geva relatively pure?

KK: Our solo projects, KK Null and Ruins Alone, are totally different mentally and musically from Zeni Geva; of course there’s something in common though, it doesn’t bother us to play both.

Despite this year’s re-release of the classic Total Castration, it’s been over ten years since the last album, 10,000 Light Years was released. Is there any sign of new studio material on its way? Are there any reasons for the long gaps between releases?

KK: Looking back at the past ten years of the band, I think we were not in a creative mood. Everyone started to play with other bands or projects, which was good in a way, but at the same time less focus on Zeni Geva itself. I was also concentrating my energy and time more into my solo project KK Null and collaborations with other artists/musicians. From the very beginning Zeni Geva had an unusual formation – two guitars, drums, no bass – and now we’re just two, one guitar, one drums. That gives us more space for interplay, free of imagination and inspiration, actually we did some arrangement on an old repertoire and they’re much better now. So, we’re very positive that we will make new songs soon and record an album.

Your first appearance at Supersonic was one of the most memorable of the whole weekend. What are your memories of the 2010 show? What do you remember about the atmosphere, the fans, about Birmingham as a whole?

KK: In fact we were under pressure on the stage, I mean, because the band played before Zeni Geva took way longer than their set length on the schedule and Swans were waiting behind us and giving us silent pressure (of course this was our impression, so I don’t know if they did or didn’t though). And so we felt like we had to run and did such a short set. Besides that, we had a great time and enjoyed the whole festival.

Why do you think a festival catering to such avant-garde music has been able to last so long and indeed celebrate its tenth anniversary this year?

KK: CONGRATULATIONS!! We’re very happy and honored to be there and perform at the tenth anniversary. It’s really amazing and I’m sure it’s all thanks to all of your dedication, devotion, love, passion for avant-garde music and this festival. Thank you very much!!

I’m under the impression that the Lash Frenzy performance was an off-the-cuff, almost improvised affair. This time round I hear you’ve been in touch with Ore beforehand to work on your performance. How will this affect the collaboration and what can we expect?

KK: For the collaboration, I composed a basic piece and we will perform live along with it. So, it will be 50% composition, 50% improvisation, but it’s not a simple addition; it will be chemistry of multiply.

Following the last question, there will be a limited CD-R available at the festival. Will this just be a snippet/segment of the performance, or a condensed version of a larger theme? Or even something different entirely?

KK: We composed a few pieces together already, and one of them should be released on the CD-R. So far we’re quite happy with our collaboration and hoping to continue and make a full length album.

Aside from the obvious sonic differences, how does your solo work compare to that of Zeni Geva? Do you approach it from a different mental or emotional place for example? What crossover do you feel there is between the two, if any?

KK: KK Null: abstract, cosmic, universal, sonically pure (relatively)… Zeni Geva: concrete, earthy, human… and complexity, harshness, emotion, soul in common.

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