South London born and raised, Kami started playing keys and guitar with his sibling Katie in their Brixton home. Heavily influenced by their Latin heritage, the first songs that the siblings learnt to play were traditional Chilean ones taught by their grandfather.
Kami’s teen years were far from clubs and music trends. He started experimenting with different software and samples, going on to produce music that takes inspiration from a vast palette of genres, spanning reggaeton to nu-metal. His aggressively raw sound was contrary to anything else being put out in London at the time. From there, alongside Katie and producer Endgame, they started label and club night, Bala Club, further establishing Kami’s unique cross-genre post-club style of music.
3 EP’s in, Kami has been making a name for himself in the last five years with track ‘Paleta’ a particular highlight, its shredded percussion and blown-out bassline gaining recognition from underground scenes and artists worldwide. However, with such highs also came lows. Kamixlo has experienced a lot of pain in the last years, which he has channelled into creating his most mature and personal work to date, ‘Cicatriz’ LP (Spanish for ‘scar’); coming via Bill Kouligas’ PAN label.
On our call with him, the softly spoken artist picks up from a Brixton park bench, trying to shelter from the rain without losing his shy smile. We chat his forthcoming album, his heritage and what has changed since his first EP’s.
How did Cicatriz start coming together? Its an emotive and raw album, can you tell us a bit more about its back story and process of making?
The album was recorded over 2017, it was then when I started compiling songs for it. It was a long process, throughout these three years loads had happened; I was running the label Bala Club and going through a lot in my personal life… I was going through a lot of situations with friendships, relationships and my mental health. It was quite a process to make the album because during that time it was hard to even make music, but I feel like I was able to make something quite meaningful.
Every single song on the album had a purpose, the album is very personal and emotional. I understand some songs will be felt as ‘bangers’ or whatever and that’s okay because although the album was made during an emotional time, I want people to enjoy it and take it in however they feel.
How do you think this album represents your change and growth as an artist?
I think I’ve definitely changed from EP 1 to now, five years ago! I think a lot of the last three releases I made were more centred on songs rather than big pieces, this is my first time showing what I can do in an album. I couldn’t have made this five years ago, I had to experience a lot and grow a lot as an artist to be able to put this together. I think is a huge and clear representation as my growth as an artist for better or for worse.
“I think I always found my heritage seen in my music someway.”
Your music has always seemed to have influence from reggaeton and bachata beats. Do you think this is reflective of your Latin heritage?
I think that it’s part of me, it will always somehow have an influence on my music whether I’m conscious about it or not. I was actually taught my first instruments by my granddad, he’s a musician and activist in Chile and he would always teach me and my sibling music from Chile. Even now I still listen to reggaeton, Latin music its a part of me. I think I always found my heritage seen in my music someway.
Which track are you most excited and proud to share?
The song called ‘Destruction’. It’s the longest song in the album, around six minutes. I recorded that song in 2017 and is exactly like the kind of music I’ve always wanted to be putting out. There are more intersections and more of influences from the music I grew up listening to. I wanted to express pieces that aren’t just for the club, ‘Destruction’ is a clear example of what I wanted to be producing. I hope that when people listen they will get this vibe, it’s way looser and I felt more open to experimenting. This song is definitely the one I’m most proud of. Also, ‘Cicatriz’ is another song I’m really proud of.
Tell me more about the recently defunct Bala Club, how did it start and how did you react to the massive recognition it received?
Me and my sibling Katie used to make projects throughout the years since we were kids, we’d make bands or whatever and Bala was just another one of those things. It was crazy cause no one listened to our music, we never thought Bala would ever really get that much recognition and then when it started to get a bit bigger and bigger, it was pretty surprising cause people didn’t really care about it anything we had done before. My favourite part of Bala was when we got the chance to showcase artists without a platform. I was also able to release my own stuff, it was really cool. We got to do Bala showcases around Europe and that was amazing to do, travelling with my best friends. When we started Bala, I don’t think any of us thought it would become anything but I think that’s also another good reason to end it cause we’ve done everything we wanted to do with it: We did a radical label, we released other people’s stuff and created something different, it was good.
I left Bala in January last year because the last three years I’ve been going through a lot of ups and downs and managing a label was getting really hard… I decided to step away but I ended it on a good note, I’m really proud of Bala club. I love it and everyone in it. It was a beautiful thing whilst it lasted but I felt there was no point in doing it if my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I would like to do something like a label again in the future.
What is the favourite place that your music has taken you to?
I think Tokyo, I think my first ever gig in Tokyo is the favourite that I ever played. I went again last year for a fashion show and it was so funny, Harry Styles was there, although he didn’t let me take a picture of him (laughs) That was cute though… I also like Moscow, it’s cool but I think that what was craziest for me was playing in Chile in Santiago. All my family is Chilean and being able to play there was such a crazy moment. It was my first time in Chile in five years. I was able to see like my dad and my little brother!
“I was severely bullied and I just like feel my music is super personal(…) my music is kind of like a little outlet, like a little diary without words, is just more emotions and more sonic voice”
You have mentioned that you don’t expect anything from London’s scene and tend to go against it. Would you say that your music is politically driven?
Yea, I feel that my music has never gone really along with what’s happening right now, it always been contradictory to my surroundings or my peers, not saying I’m different or special but growing up I was so isolated… Even in my teen years in school, I was severely bullied and I just feel that my music is super personal. I’m not very vocal with things that happened in my life, but my music is kind of like a little outlet, a little diary without words, is just more emotions. I guess growing up within the scene coming up there was a lot of stuff that I really didn’t want to be associated with. I’m a Latino, working-class in Brixton and I just never related to what was going on in the music scene. With Bala we just took whatever was without conforming to what was the thing to do at the moment.
How has it been to debut an album on PAN?
Yea it’s been really cool cause I finished the album a while ago, last winter. Since I finished Bala club, I didn’t really have a home for the album, so I was quite unsure on what to do with it and then I heard from PAN and it just meant a lot. I think is a good home for the album. I think that if I were to self-release the album, it would reach the same audience, which I love, but I thought that with PAN it could be put into the hands of someone that wouldn’t otherwise have heard of my music.
How do you feel about being in music now in general?
I feel that being a musician now kinda sucks. I have had a lot of thought about dropping the album in 2020. I would have loved to tour it off and play some songs in my DJ sets. Nothing is ideal but 2020 is already such a fucked up year that I thought I might as well just drop my album. It’s a shame cause I had live music in mind when I was working on some tracks but I guess that’s not gonna happen for a while.
What are some of the artists you have been listening to most lately?
I’m listening to a lot of nu-metal, also revisiting old emo bands. Production-wise I’ve been quite out of the loop with what’s going on but I listen to a lot of Swan Meat, Felix Lee, Estoc, they always have amazing stuff. Otherwise, I’ve listened to the most random shit, I’ve actually never heard of Fleetwood Mac before but I’ve been listening to a lot of their stuff cause I saw it in a meme and I was like oh cool I’ll check it out and I listened to that all day so.
Kamixlo’s ‘Cicatriz’ will be out on October 30th via PAN.
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Post-production design by Marina Moro