Danish group Khalil is the new project of Nikolaj Vonsild, alongside Simon Formann, better known as Yen Towers and Villads Klint. Vonsild is perhaps best known as part of electro-pop synth quartet When Saints Go Machine, but it’s Khalil debut album The Water We Drink that remains his strongest vision to date.
Released on underground danish label Posh Isolation, The Water We Drink marries hyper-processed vocals with icy synthetics and fractured arrangements, reaching a narrative that “presents a luminous route into a future of cadences pitched to a crushing intensity”.
Whilst comparisons to the workings of contemporary artists such as Arca and Anonhi have been made, Khalil’s sound is truly unique. The cover art pictures an Evian bottle of water spilling onto human hands and the conflict between the natural and the man-made lie heavily within the album, as organic elements are deliberately intertwined with opposing machine heavy sounds.
With such detail within the record, we requested an invite into Khalil’s studio to find the machines that are central to their creation process.
This is the centre of the studio. You can just glimpse the monitors, ADAM A7x, they are alright, though a bit rough on the ears if you work long hours. We just got an external monitor for the first time, feels like life v3.0. Beneath that is a Mackie 16:8 which almost everything gets recorded through.
Another important feature in the studio is the light frame, it has a perfect hue, and it strobes as well for those special occasions.
Had this machine for years, used it on everything, but it was a bit heavy to carry around, so it was actually just collecting dust and I thought about selling it for a while, but my real friends talked me out of it, I stuck through money problems and kept it.
We used it on the album for almost everything, drums, synths and effect processing in general. That wheel is one of the easiest and best things ever made. It’s like wheel of fortune except there’s no bankrupt, it’s just up.
The DP4 usually gets used for aux sends on the mixer. It can generate a sub bass which is out of this world. The Filter Factory is a good way to add some movement and grit to almost everything. Sounds particularly nice on hi-hats and percussion.
3. DJ Cat
We have some stray companions in the area where the studio is, three cats and a dog. The turntables are mostly used for listening and sampling, either into the MPCs or straight to Live. Villads uses the CDJs for live acts.
4. V Control
This is what a typical setup live setup looks like, heavy on screens and controllers!
The MPCs still gets a lot of use, they have been staples in both Niki and Simon’s setups for years now. We have so many flashcards laying around, whenever they turn on, they turn up! The Machinedrum still see some use aswell, mostly in other projects though.
The Water We Drink is out now on Posh Isolation. Order it here.