It’s three years since Kllo – Melbourne cousins Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam – released their debut LP Backwater. Since they’ve taken their sophisticated brand of R&B and UK garage-inflected synth-pop to festivals like Primavera and Great Escape, plus headline shows around the world. Mellowing things out this time around, their sophomore release Maybe We Could– out July 17th– offers ten dreamy, understated cuts, ideal for bathing in on these balmy mid-summer nights. And, they made it just by going with the flow.
We chat about the new record, working with Tame Impala’s favorite video director, and how this album almost never happened.
How are you guys feeling about releasing Maybe We Could amidst the COVID- 19 chaos? It is strange of course, but it doesn’t change much for us. We’re a streaming band and luckily people spend a lot of their time at home streaming music. It’s quite a calm album overall, and hopefully, it brings some comfort while we have to stay indoors.
What was the rhythm of making this record like, when compared with Backwater? We started by just sending ideas back and forth, seeing what directions clicked. Then we slowly started getting in the studio, once a week, then twice a week, then as much as we could when we were getting to the end of the album. We are just better musicians this time around, or at least faster at getting ideas down that we are proud of.
Did you find the pressure associated with the follow-up album daunting, and if so, how have you interacted with it? We did at first, but we realized the only way we were going to finish the album and have a positive relationship with it, was to care less. We needed to do it for ourselves. There were times when we tried to recreate similar moments from the first album, some moments we know people liked, but it never really worked out. The things that stuck were always the ideas that we were truly feeling, and you just have to take that lead from yourself and follow it.
Has there been anything on your own playlists that has influenced the sound of Maybe We Could? We used to try and rip songs off in the early days. Nowadays, we never really write a song with another in mind. We are subconsciously influenced by songs and chip away at it together, hoping that in time, it’ll sound like us. We’ve matured a lot since the last album which maybe comes through in the music. We’re more thoughtful but more confident at the same time.
This album has a more serene, pensive quality when compared with your debut. Was that something that unraveled as you made it? We were in a different headspace this album. Each song is relative to what we’re going through at the time. We have grown as people. We are a bit happier, a bit more assertive in our day to day and that shows in our music. We’ve always liked lusher and more downtempo stuff, and we’re not trying to steer away from that anymore.
You have said in the past that it was only when you started making music together that your relationship became closer. Has your dynamic changed again since your debut, if so, how has that manifested in the studio? We have been such a big part of each other’s lives for some time now. Collaborating is a really natural process when you’re close and on the same page, so in that sense, it’s easier, but being so close can be difficult sometimes. There’s no filter and that can lead to frustration when we both have a strong vision about where a song could go.
Tame Impala’s go-to video director, Matt Sav, directed the mesmeric video for lead single “Still Here”. What was that process like? It was really fun! Everything ran smoothly. Sometimes we think things need to feel serious for them to look presentable, but that’s a myth. We shot it all in a day and it was a very cruisy process. We hadn’t been to Fremantle (Western Australia) before, it’s a beautiful town.
How important have the visuals been this time round in presenting the music? We consider our visuals to be an important part of our aesthetic. They don’t need to be perfect; they just need to feel authentic, not too polished. It helps communicate how we hear the music ourselves.
Since your debut you actually went separate ways temporarily, was the sophomore record for Kllo always a guarantee? No. We were unsure if we wanted to continue the band because it became everything to us. We wanted to explore other interests and have more balance in our lives. We needed the space to gather our thoughts and realize that the grass isn’t greener on the other side.
What did you each get up to during your time apart? We worked on our solo projects and collaborated with other artists. We needed to do this in order to grow and gain a deeper understanding of how important the band is to us, both on an emotional level and creatively.
The album title pays homage to a phrase you found yourself saying in the studio when you were experimenting with tracks. If you could say Maybe We Could about the future; what’s next? We like to take a step by step approach in the band, rather than focusing on our end goal. Big plans are daunting for us. ‘Maybe we could’ is how we handle most of our big decisions and may always be our outlook. We’ll just take it as it comes.