The KVB. It sounds secretive, and slightly sinister – possibly a clandestine police force from the halcyon days of Eastern European communist dictatorships, staffed by ashen-faced operatives with a fanatical dedication to the cause of the State. Working behind heavy iron doors, and in the shadows of society, The KVB seeks out insurrection, identifies agitators and punishes opposition. In reality, it’s nothing of the sort: The KVB is the nom de plume of Nick Wood and his partner Kat Day, a two-piece outfit from the UK who combine an electronic-shoegaze-industrial garage musical aesthetic with an intense visual live show. In the beginning, The KVB was Wood’s bedroom project, an opportunity for him to explore different sonic textures outside of the confines of his ‘regular’ musical projects.
“I had been playing guitar in a few bands and recording my own material under different guises for a few years before I started making music as The KVB,” Wood explains. “All the music we have released so far has been recorded by ourselves at our home studio.”
The name KVB is an abbreviation of Klaus Van Barrel, an alias suggested by a friend when Wood started creating his own music. “We wanted it to sound slightly absurd,” Wood adds. In the beginning, he says there wasn’t a particular musical idea that was flowing through his head – it was about experimentation and exploration. “There wasn’t a plan as such. It’s more a combination of both musical and non-musical influences, and the mood and instruments that are available to me. I think there is something really beautiful about the texture our old 16-track creates.”
After committing various musical ideas to recorded form, Wood invited Day to join the band on keyboards and synthesiser. It was to be the beginning of the transformation of The KVB from pet studio project to living, breathing and live performing creature. The KVB played their first live show in 2011, a couple of years after Wood had started his fledgling efforts. But Wood is still mining his early studio recordings for the band’s releases, including the recent mini-album Minus One – and there may be more to come. “I have written a lot in the past three years and still have a lot of recorded unreleased works that haven’t been played live,” Wood says.
Day’s involvement in the band introduced the striking visual background imagery now intrinsic to the live show. “The KVB did not play live before Kat joined,” says Wood. “Now we consider [the visual imagery] a key part of our performance – it heightens the immersive atmosphere we wish our audiences to experience”.
Wood says The KVB’s live imagery “fluctuates between quite seductive, slow 3D-rendered tactile images and flicker-film-esque, digital glitch-based works”. The overall objective is to establish a connection between the music and the imagery displayed. “I am really interested in the haptic and how the brain can create a conscious connection to the screen to really ‘feel’, stroke and be immersed in the imagery.”
This month, The KVB will make their first trip to Australia as guests of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, having come to the attention of BJM’s l’enfant terrible genius Anton Newcombe earlier this year. “We met Anton through our manager Dr Kiko, who played our last LP Immaterial Visions to him whilst we were in Berlin early this year,” Wood explains. The relationship between Newcombe and The KVB is more than a temporary marriage of convenience, with Wood and Day planning to head to Newcombe’s studio next year to transform more of Wood’s original material into rich KVB product. “I’ve still got lots of material I’ve already recorded,” Wood says. “Hopefully they will also get rereleased in the future, although we have been recording some new songs at Anton’s studio in Berlin, which should be out sometime next year.”
BY PATRICK EMERY
Photo: James D.Kelly