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Easy Livin View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Toby Driver of Kayo Dot, March 2006
    Posted: March 04 2006 at 11:26

Toby Driver from Kayo Dot

Interviewed by Progarchives member Ivan Sturov (better known as "Trickster F.") 

Nowadays there is a variety of artists who can be divided into two categories: those who make music and those who create it. Kayo Dot, an American big band formed from the ashes of maudlin of the Well, definitely falls under the latter category. Not just transcending the borders of genres, but the music itself, Kayo Dot are truly a definition of a Progressive, innovation group of our century. Their music is aimed at fans of new music in general, not just fans of a certain genre. Needless to say, both of their albums, ‘Choirs of the Eye’ and the latest ‘Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue’, are recommended to any fan of Progressive music. Having a vast variety of influences, Kayo Dot is a difficult group to classify – their music can not be put into a box!

Having met Toby Driver, the brainchild behind Kayo Dot’s music, their main composer and multi-instrumentalist, I had so many questions to ask him that could be enough for a whole interview. Mister Driver himself quite liked the idea and answered all of my questions with care. Hopefully, this interview will explain Kayo Dot’s identity to all readers and be of interest even to the fiery fans of this amazingly creative and underappreciated group.

 

:::The Interview:::

 

 

 

Kayo Dot's new album, "Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue", is out. What reactions have you been receiving from the fans?


It has been really mixed; it seems like within the online communities, most people who really loved Choirs of the Eye don't like the new one. However, it's totally inaccurate to create a statistic based on a few messageboards. We've gotten some enthusiastic comments on myspace, and some people like the new one more, but it seems like overall people like Choirs of the Eye better. Really though, I think the label has been mostly pushing this album towards a really *metal* audience, who I don't really think are the type of crowd to be into this type of stuff anyway. I have noticed a lot of people saying this album is much more abstract than its predecessor, which I don't really understand or agree with.


If you ask me, the new album is both more mellow and more challenging than the debut "Choirs Of The Eye". There was this feeling of tension and mystery surrounding the first album that made all but one song inaccessible for me at first. Although some tracks on the new album I found to be more accessible than most of the debut, there are plenty challenging compositions, such as the hauntingly heavy and atmospheric "Gemini Becoming The Tripod" and the last two thirds of "On Limpid Form", to name just a few. It also sounds more jazzy to me and less post-rocking.. How would you compare your recent work to the previous one?


There are a few very stark differences, the most important being that Choirs of the Eye was mostly a studio album and Dowsing Anemone is mostly a live album. By that, I mean that Choirs of the Eye contains a lot of overdubs, tons of guitars, vocals, strings, and horns, and Dowsing Anemone has very few if any overdubs, and features only the instrumentation we use when we perform live. This results in a really different type of sound, as you can hear. In terms of mood and atmosphere, Choirs of the Eye is much more magical and introspective, and Dowsing Anemone is intentionally earthly.


Kayo Dot are known in the underground communities as the band that changes constantly. What is the reason of the constant metamorphosis: a result of a different approach to the composing process or the change of influences? What are you inspired by and the group in general?


I think it's predominantly a lack of interest in repeating ourselves. For example, I feel like Choirs of the Eye did was it was trying to do perfectly, so there was no reason to try and duplicate that. Any time I feel like experiencing that kind of mod, I can just listen to that album. The only way to really grow as a composer and musician is to explore new territory. Of course, all the things you mentioned are factors as well. In terms of inspiration, I really have a hard time answering that question. I think it's enough to say that everything I come across is inspiring in one way or another; If my mind is always thinking on a musical level, then I relate everything I experience to music. 


You have stated in the past that nobody wanted to be put into a box which is true because most musicians don't like being compared to groups that they have nothing in common with, or to be classified without much thought which often leads to the reader/listener understanding the explanations differently. Fortunately, there has been a tendency lately to classify the unclassifiable, by labeling groups either "Avant-Garde" or "Progressive" which speaks about the technique of musicians and the innovation more than some certain sound. I think it's quite handy. Would you put Kayo Dot's music under any of these categories? What is your opinion on these 'genres' of music?

Yes, I think that they're good descriptive terms. Both terms just basically mean "forward-thinking," and there are certainly people in this world whose musical tastes fall for anything that is as such. To many people, it doesn't matter what the stylistic aesthetic of the music is, as long as it's music that offers something new. I would even go so far as to say that this is the type of audience that we are most interested in reaching; not rock fans, classical fans, jazz fans, metal fans... but rather, fans of new music.


Returning to the topic of composing process, how do you write music in your new group? I remember reading a maudlin of the Well interview in which you admitted that you write not what you would like to write, but what is meant to be written(That's how I understood it, if I am wrong feel free to correct me on this fascinating subject). Has anything changed since then?


Yes, and that's one of the reasons why we're working under a new band name now. Kayo Dot's music is intentful as far as our choice of notes, and it's very thought-out and planned. motW was more an impulsive kind of composition. I think after Bath and Leaving Your Body Map, I felt that I had accomplished what I wanted to with motW's process, especially with the song "Interlude 4," (which was entirely dreamt) and I was ready to try something new. 


You don't have to answer to the next question, if you don't want to reveal it(I know many musicians don't want to), but what ideas you hope are reached through the music and lyrics to the listener?


There are none. With maudlin of the Well, it was different, and we definitely had things we wanted to communicate. But in Kayo Dot, everything is sort of selfish and I don't really care if anybody can get anything out of it anymore. Right now, at this point in my life, I am primarily interested in keeping my own self excited about music. I think this comes as a result of trying to communicate ideas in the past and having all that hard work underappreciated and misinterpreted. I think I would rather let things be the way they are and anything after that is an added bonus but not the purpose.

What is the setlist usually like at the Kayo Dot concerts? Is there a certain number of songs that you play on each occasion? Is there more material from the new album after the latest release? In addition, although I realize that only two members are left from the maudlin of the Well line-up, do you ever play motW songs?


We don't ever play any motW songs for the reason you mentioned. As far as a set list, we usually only have time enough to play 2 or 3 songs, and yes, since the release of the new album we have been playing more new songs than old.

Please tell me about "In the L..L..Library Loft" - your solo album. What influenced the mood of the music and the album's name? Forgive me if it sounds silly, but do you have any associations or maybe even memories with the Library Loft. After listening to the album, the listener can't help but think of it as a horrifying place!


I think that just in terms of my own aesthetic, I've always been most affected by terrifying and/or melancholy music. I didn't set out to make a scary album, but when I saw that it was shaping up like that, I had a great time going with it. All the pieces on the album started out as concepts, around which I shaped the actual music. It was the first time I had tried this method, and it was an amazing learning experience for me. The title is supposed to be stuttered, as if  the person saying it were very frightened.. like "There's a horrible m..m..monster in the L...L..L..Library Loft!! AIEEE!!!" Unfortunately I have never been in such a library loft, but one can hope. 


I heard that the circumstances under which your band toured were far from easy. Has the popularity of your music increased after the release of "Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue"? According to the top internet music rating website rateyourmusic.com, it is the second most popular album of the year so far, and although the year has just begun it does mean a lot, I think.


I actually have no idea. But I think that the biggest factor in garnering an audience is touring, and not new albums. Robotic Empire has worked hard on promotion for the album though, so I think that probably the next tour we do, we'll see bigger audiences than before. I think it's too early to tell now, though. (I think in terms of
rateyourmusic.com, we might actually be #1, since that Devin Townsend album is rated #1 but only has like one review and we have many more than that. I don't really understand how the weighting works on that site.)

There are always bands supporting you on tour. Not having seen you live, I neither have an idea of their sound, nor can I say that I have even heard of them, but I am curious: what music do they make? Are they any similar to Kayo Dot, judging by any criteria’s?


We've played with all sorts of different types of bands. I think often when other people set up shows for us, they tend to put Neurisican bands on the bill, which is annoying; I'm not sure which is worse.... all the Neurisican or all the sh*tty gothic death metal that we used to have to deal with. However, more and more lately, we're getting shows with more interesting bands; ones whose music is truly offering something new an incomparable. None of them though, have been similar to Kayo Dot, and I'm really happy about that, because I would much rather participate in an eclectic show.


I have read another interview with you, in which you said that the name 'Kayo Dot' is not supposed to mean anything, and the only meaning it should have is the meaning behind the music each listener feels. Maudlin of the Well - your previous group - also had a rather unusual name. Is there any meaning behind it?


Yes, there was. The image of a Well, for us, was an icon of magic, mystery, and phantasy. The Well was the gateway to happiness; escape from this world. "Maudlin" was used to denote the forlorn melodrama in our music, and regarding the Well, it referred to the unquenchable yearning for magic which seemed not to exist in everyday life.  


I realize that you are forced to deal with serious financial problems, much like other bands with extraordinary, unusual structure, but tell me, is there any chance at all that Kayo Dot someday tours the other continents as well? As much as I am informed, you have fans in Europe: from the Baltic countries to France, and even in the Asian countries.


Yes, of course. That's something that we all want to do as soon as possible.


Many listeners are worried about the band's further direction. "On Limpid Form" is already being compared to King Crimson's "Moonchild" which is more negative than positive. Did you predict such a reaction from the fans to this track? Speaking about the track, is it but an experiment or a part of Kayo Dot's direction?


We did predict a negative reaction to that track, but didn't really care about that. I don’t understand how a "Moonchild" comparison can be thought of as negative though; that song is fantastic! Of course, you can't argue with someone's taste, and that's perfectly fine. That song is extremely enjoyable to us as a band; fun to play, breathtaking to listen to... we knew people would think it was too long, but I think that when bands start making records catering to what their fans will think, that's when the music actually suffers.


As a music listener, what albums that came out in the year of 2005 did you enjoy most?


I really spent most of the year working on my own music, so I didn't listen to all that much new stuff. All the music I did seek out, actually, was older stuff that I hadn't heard before, like from the early to mid-twentieth century, like some early Pink Floyd, or Messiaen. 
 

Many people are eager to check out your music but don't know where to start. What CD or, perhaps, specific songs would you recommend to a beginner?


I think most musicians want to recommend their latest stuff first, because that stuff is most representative of themselves at that time. I think for a good introduction to where I'm at now, people should first check out "Eptaceros" and "Kandu vs. Corky" from my solo album.

This is all I wanted to ask you! Best of luck to you and many more great musical ideas!


Thanks very much for the interview and for the thoughtful questions. This was one of the most enjoyable interviews I've ever had. Thanks for the support!

 

 

For reference:

Kayo Dot's official webpage - http://www.kayodot.net/

Kayo Dot's Progarchives.com page - http://www.progarchives.com/Progressive_rock_discography_BAN D.asp?band_id=1870

Toby Driver's Progarchives.com page - http://www.progarchives.com/Progressive_rock_discography_BAN D.asp?band_id=2136



Edited by Easy Livin - August 19 2006 at 16:54
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 04 2006 at 14:23
Great interview for a great artist!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 04 2006 at 14:55
Awesome!!! Kayo Dot is one of the few truly progressive bands nowaydays...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2006 at 11:47
I love their music so much

Great interview!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2006 at 20:29
Im thinking in buying an album by them and this interview made me more curious, so i'll try and get it a soon as posible

good interview BTW

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 06 2006 at 07:58

Thanks everyone!

Chamberry: I think it would be a good idea to start with Choirs of the Eye, but knowing that the group is in constant metamorphosis, you could get the latest 2006 release as well, although it is considered less accessible.

 -- Ivan

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2006 at 14:13

Originally posted by Useful_Idiot Useful_Idiot wrote:

Great interview for a great artist!

Definitely.



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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 11 2006 at 15:05
Awesome inteview.  I listened to the mOTW sample a while back at PA and it made me want to buy all the mOTW albums.  They also have free mp3s of Kayo Dot at their site which are good as well.

I have a question though,

"I think often when other people set up shows for us, they tend to put Neurisican bands on the bill, which is annoying;"


What does Neuriscian mean?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 11 2006 at 15:16

Neurisican means Neurosis, Isis and Pelican - bands who rip them off. I don't remember hearing it before the interview. Clever, huh?

It's nice to see there are people who enjoy Toby Driver's music on this site. I hope some people found out about them after reading the interview.

 -- Ivan

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 11 2006 at 16:37

Isis and Pelican aren't ripping off Kayo Dot or Maudlin of the Well.

Both bands sound very much like Neurosis,who they claim as a direct influence.

And Neurosis was around 11 years before MotW.



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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 11 2006 at 17:18
Originally posted by TheProgtologist TheProgtologist wrote:

Isis and Pelican aren't ripping off Kayo Dot or Maudlin of the Well.

Both bands sound very much like Neurosis,who they claim as a direct influence.

And Neurosis was around 11 years before MotW.



He meant bands who rip off Neurosis, Isis and Pelican.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 11 2006 at 18:17
Originally posted by Useful_Idiot Useful_Idiot wrote:

Originally posted by TheProgtologist TheProgtologist wrote:

Isis and Pelican aren't ripping off Kayo Dot or Maudlin of the Well.

Both bands sound very much like Neurosis,who they claim as a direct influence.

And Neurosis was around 11 years before MotW.



He meant bands who rip off Neurosis, Isis and Pelican.

Gotcha.

Sorry about that,I misunderstood the post.



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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2006 at 06:28

Sorry, I should have explained that clearer. It's my fault.

 -- Ivan

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 14 2006 at 00:39

Neurisican means Neurosis, Isis and Pelican - Great concept.

So can I call myself a Neurisican fan?

"Both bands sound very much like Neurosis,who they claim as a direct influence"

I did not know that. I can hear the influences but I wasn't aware that they said they were. So now I can be at peace when saying there is a certain similarity between them. (I got laughed at when saying this to some friends).

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 14 2006 at 07:52

I don't know, I've always thought that the Neurosis influence was so obvious that it did not need to be pointed out. However, we must give credit to Isis and Pelican for not merely copying their sound.

 -- Ivan

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 14 2006 at 20:47
I haven't time to read the whole mammoth at the minute, but skimming it it looks good & I'll check back later for sure 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 31 2006 at 03:37

After Mike pointed me at the existence of Kayo Dot I started to read this interesting interview. Now I am very curious to this band that seems to sound really progressive rather than the usual 'regressive rock' ... !

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 31 2006 at 15:00
Originally posted by erik neuteboom erik neuteboom wrote:

After Mike pointed me at the existence of Kayo Dot I started to read this interesting interview. Now I am very curious to this band that seems to sound really progressive rather than the usual 'regressive rock' ... !



Trust me Erik, you won't be disappointed.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 31 2006 at 15:22
^ you can say that again. Exellent band

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 03 2006 at 21:04
Kayo Dot...abstract music?...for me the best way to discrive them...
I´m just starting to apreatiate them...
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