Premiere + Interview: Gab Rhome + Kora craft smoothness in ‘Toboggan’
Gab Rhome and Kora, two creators of beautiful beats and beguiling melodies, have joined forces for upcoming collaboration “Toboggan.” The track lands on Kora’s budding Saisons imprint April on April 19. The duo shares a French-Canadian language, culture, and humor which clearly fed into the music, which they co-created while improvising freely. They’re often found “geeking out with no shame” in their dream shared studio space, throwing out the musical and tech rule books and pushing their gear to the limit in the process.
Dancing Astronaut has scored an exclusive listen of the piece ahead of its official release date. Additionally, we sat the two friends down to talk to each other ahead of the release; expect story swapping and tender moments, some insight into their studio time together, and discussions of the wackiest music samples.
Kora asks Gab…
Kora: What has been your favourite party we’ve played together so far?
Gab Rhome: It’s hard to tell! I don’t want to sound cliché but they’ve all been good so far. I’m looking forward to our India tour. We have very similar tastes when it comes to dance music and humor so it really is a joy to share the decks with you; and look at memes before the show too..
K: We both grew up in Quebec, and the European influence on the province definitely influenced my musical tastes. Did you find the same? And how did you feel influenced/inspired, tell us a bit more about growing up here from your opinion?
GR: I grew up with old French classics mixed with UK punk and US jazz: I think it’s very representative of the geographic position and history of our province. It did influence me a lot, but I find our culture in electronic music a bit inexistent outside of the main cities. Therefore, when I started creating my own, I would imagine ‘’how this music sounds elsewhere’’. This guessing game kind of gave me a fresh perspective on music because you can never know exactly until you see/hear it.
K: Toboggan is our first release together – we should probably talk a little more about how this one came together…
GR: We first met via Skype actually, I was spending a few days in the Canadian countryside when I picked up the call, enjoying a break from New York City (where I was living at the time). After a few minutes, we realized we were both from Quebec and we instantly bonded over a very quirky and absurd and weirdly-local type of French Canadian humor. We met up in New York a few weeks later, the first day getting to know each other and not coming up with anything and, on the second day, we were able to express how we wanted to be known for more than the sound we are expected to produce. This statement really kicked the doors wide open, henceforth liberating us of any judgment: nothing was off because nothing was expected. In that spirit, we started pushing the gear we had at hand as much as possible, often wiring stuff wrong so we could come up with really flawed yet interesting results. Honestly, most of the poignant parts of the song came up by improvising on the keyboards.
The fact that you also went to the worst barber in my neighborhood, and had a really bad trim, relaxed the atmosphere quite a bit. I don’t know for you but to me, the process of making this song was really just an expression of our humanity, our insatiable curiosity, and a will to break the rules in order to be different
K: How do you feel the communication and workflow of our DJ sets compare to the production process on a collaborative track such as this one?
GR: It depends where we are in the process: in the early stages of the production (laying down ideas and recording jams), the energy was very similar to when we DJ together. No need to talk: we can communicate through disapproving smoke signals and judgmental pigeon carrier. More seriously though, I’m usually able to understand if you like an idea or not through the tender looks you give me. Words really only became handy when it came to arrangement and the more technical steps.
K: Other than your gear, what goes into a unique, comfortable, and creative work environment and studio space?
GR: Daylight! No clutter and very good smells too. I can’t think if there’s a thousand relics, may they be magical or not, on my desk. Give me a clean space so I can make messy music. Paradoxically, I also need things that make sound (may they be drums, a handful of change, or dogs) laying around the room. Not close to me, but close enough that I will reach for them if I need to, even though I never will. A dishwasher is also a must, I sampled mine in my newest song and it sounds next level.
Gab asks Kora…
Gab Rhome: Do you remember the first time we met? Where were we?
Kora: I heard you DJ for the first time when you performed in Charlevoix (Quebec) during my graduation from University, but we didn’t meet at that time. We connected later online as you were helping me with some technical feedback on my song “Vayu”, so I suppose this was our first e-meeting. The first time we officially met in person was in Brooklyn. I came to NY from Montreal for a few days to hang out, crash on your inflatable mattress, pet your dogs, and make music in Manhattan. You recommended the worst barber shop in the neighbourhood and I came back to your house traumatized with no facial hair left, haha! We also started to work on our first collaboration, Toboggan, which was a blast.
GR: How has the Saisons family developed since launching the label at the end of last year?
K: It’s been growing in a very beautiful and organic way since September. We’ve released songs from our creative friends Wuachuma and David Orin. The next musicians to connect with our growing tribe will be Hraach and Madota. It’s worth mentioning that we’re very happy you’re joining us Gab. Your ability to craft beautiful melodies is a secondary benefit to adding such a charming personality to the Saison roster. We also need another nature-lover to help water the plants in the studio when I’m on the road, so your spring arrival is perfect, especially since you’ve recently moved just a few blocks away from the Saisons HQ.
GR: Outside of music, what are the goals behind the Saison project?
K: Taking better care of our planet is at the core of our DNA. Music is our hub to connect with people, to share experiences, to communicate, and in that respect, to reconnect with nature. We believe that by using this synergy, we could hold a positive impact on our planet. In the short term, we intend to find solutions regarding climate change that will make the music industry greener, turn festival-goers into more conscious travelers, and inspire artists to set an example for reducing our impact on the fragile planet.
GR: Montreal is home to one of the most thriving artistic and underground scenes in North America, and I know for me it’s played an essential role in my journey as a musician. What kind of role has Montreal played in your career to this point?
K: Waaaa, that’s a great question. I don’t know where to start, so maybe just dropping some key words will help: Life, University, Friendships, Poutine, Change, Love, Seasons, Tam-tams, Igloofest, Jazz Festival, Nuits d’Afrique, Colors, Street Art, Multicultural, Open Minded, Freedom, Salon Daomé, Piknic, St-Laurent, Parks, Birds, Stereo, Cirque du Soleil, Sun, Studio, Fun. Montreal has had a very positive impact on many aspects of my life, but especially my development as an artist. All the incredible humans I’ve connected with here have inspired my creative journey, especially my management team who have been my closest friends for many years. I’ve been DJing in the city since college & I’ve grown through multiple stages of the Montrel music scene. At each level, there is an incredible level of support and excitement amongst the Montreal locals. We have some of the most passionate educated crowds in the world. There is a great sense of community in the scene here, as people from all different walks of life have access to Montreal dancefloors. I’m very grateful to call this city home and I can’t wait to play here again.
GR: How do find balance between your busy touring schedule and time in the studio?
K: As much as it can be very challenging to be on the move all the time, I think discipline is key to keeping a good balance. Blocking a few weeks “off” in the calendar between tours is essential if I want to stay healthy, recharge my energy levels and have some quality time in the studio. As I find it more natural to write music in the comfort of my creative nest, I now use the time I have on the road to record sounds, take photos, and gather inspiration.
GR: Is it easier to produce, DJ, or cook with me?
K: I have to say that DJing is the easiest of the three. Producing is sometimes difficult since we have a 5:1 ratio of watching memes and actually making music. Cooking is by far the most challenging of all. I’m sure you remember the last time we had dinner at your place… you burned the Naan bread and the fire department showed up, haha! The meal was delicious, nonetheless.
GR: Was this the first time you’ve sampled a dog for a song?
K: Yes, it was, and thanks to your pets for collaborating with us. I love using random sounds and elements from the environment to really capture a moment – in this case, two lovely Dachshunds walking around the studio. You can hear Chewy’s necklace shaking in the very beginning of Toboggan, and Pickel’s little slaps have been used as one of the main percussion in the track.
‘Toboggan’ is out on Saisons on Friday April 19. Order a copy here