I like to think of myself as a pretty big Kill Paris fan, having listened to his 2012 album The Beginning more times than I can count. Although, in reality, I haven’t listened to a whole lot of his work between then and now. He released his Foreplay EP in 2014 and then his sophomore album Galaxies Between Us in 2015. It wasn’t until 2018 that he partnered with Monstercat for the rollout to his third album, Galaxies Within Us, which came out on Valentine’s Day.
Listening to GWS now, I’m definitely reminded of the magic that I experienced listening to The Beginning for the first time. It has that same sort of funk and swagger that made me fall in love with his music in the first place, with a lot more polish and innovation.
For this album, Kill Paris relied heavily on the MIDI Sprout, a device which converts an object’s electrical energy into MIDI notes. Pairing the MIDI Sprout with Ableton, one can create some pretty terrific sounds, like you’ll hear on this album.
Collaborators include FATHERDUDE, Big Gigantic, Tim Moyo, and Wim Hof. Check out Galaxies Within Us below, and read on for an exclusive interview with Kill Paris about the album, the MIDI Sprout technology, and romanticism.
So first things first, how did you hear about MIDI Sprout?
I first heard of Midi Sprout from Duncan Trussell on an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience. It was something I just had to have.
Is this album entirely plant biodata like your Splice pack? Or are there some pre-existing sounds in there as well?
No, not entirely, but it’s used almost entirely on songs like “Breathing In, Letting Go” and “Random.” All of the vocal harmonies on Random we generated from a MIDI Sprout that I hooked up to my hands while singing the lyrics. And in “Breathing In, Letting Go” the main synth sound was made by holding the MIDI sprout in my hands while doing Wim Hof’s breathing exercise. I think that’s been the most fascinating thing about the MIDI sprout is using it to interact with my own body’s electricity. It’s a great feedback tool when doing things like meditating or just tuning into how you are feeling a given moment.
How many plants would you even say you’ve data-mined?
Data mined, lol, that sounds cold! There’s been quite a handful. The most interesting have been a spider plant (that’s no longer with us, RIP) and the Venus Fly Trap. The Venus Fly Trap is interesting because it’s one of the few plants that get the majority of their nutrients from insects instead of photosynthesis. So the electrical activity of the plant is very mild until it senses something in its trap. When it does sense a bug in its trap, there is a huge electrical spike! It’s really wild!
I assume an infinite amount of synths could be created, combining different plants with different patches and instruments. How do you zero in on what kind of sound you want to produce? Do you see a sunflower and think, “Oh, thank goodness, I’ve been needing bass synth”?
It’s more about just listening to what the plant is doing. It all seems kind of random, but if you listen closely, you can pick out little riffs or chords that the plant is generating. It’s a very patience-driven creative process.
How much goes into translating a plant MIDI signal into an actual, usable sound?
With Ableton, it’s pretty easy to guide the MIDI into usable forms. I’ve gotten pretty efficient at making MIDI racks that produce very whimsical sounds.
The name of the album, Galaxies Within Us, clearly places it as a sequel to your 2015 album, Galaxies Between Us. What is the difference between galaxies between people or within people, in a broad sense?
It’s not necessarily a sequel, hell it could even be considered a prequel! The whole inspiration behind “Galaxies Within Us” is simply going within. That’s why Wim Hof is a big part of this album as well. He’s one of the public figures who is doing their part in reminding society that the true power of change is all within. The secret to happiness and meaning is all within. This album has been a journey within for me. I spent a few years really unmotivated and uninspired by the world around me. Then I realized, the world doesn’t owe me shit. If I want something done, I have to do it. If I want to find deep meaning in life, I have to find it. The world doesn’t owe me shit!
As a fan of yours since The Beginning, I’m really happy to hear you move back to some more heavily textured sounds like on “Magic” and “I (Still) Dream Of You.” Was that a conscious decision, or more of a result of whatever your head space is at the time?
Something I’ve really tried to do since “The Beginning” is blend heavier sounds with melodic lines. I’ve tried to make songs that you can dance and get down to, but also just listen at home casually. So with those 2 songs, I feel like I kind of found that balance. But, in my experience, that balance is a very hard thing to manage, but I’m always appreciative when it happens.
As a purveyor of funk yourself, how was it finally getting in the studio with Colorado funk lords Big Gigantic on “Fizzy Lifting Drink”?
It’s funny, I made the majority of that song in like one day. I don’t know what it was, one of those perfect studio days where there’s no preconceived thoughts to get in the way of the actual work. I then sent it to Dom, and I was like, “Dude, I think this is cool and it would be REALLY cool if you put some sax on it.” He really liked it and that was that. It was finished pretty quick! Then I got a hold of Jimi Tents whose voice I felt would be perfect for the track, and he dug the song too. The track title “Fizzy Lifting Drink” was a title my manager and I had in our list of song name ideas that we have. It was one of those songs that really just came together rather effortlessly, and those are always my favorite. I imagine this is what it sounds like after sipping some of Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting Drink.
Was the release on Valentine’s Day intentional? I know you’re a pretty romantic guy (I’m obsessed with The Beginning, after all).
It kind of was. There’s some romantic songs on the album, but more importantly, this album is about going within. So it was more chosen to come out on Valentine’s Day for those who don’t have a significant other or are going through hard times. It’s like a little reminder that it’s all good, just breath, chill.
You probably don’t have an answer to this, but I’ve noticed a strange pattern: if a song is called “Two Minds” or has “two minds” in the lyrics, it’s invariably a banger. This has stayed true for Nero’s song “Two Minds,” as well as yours, and a song of Delta Heavy’s with “two minds” in the lyrics. Care to offer any explanation?
Ya know, I don’t know. But I do know that the expression “two minds” is about holding two perspectives at the same time, which would constitute a higher level of cognition vs “one mind.” So that being said, I believe if you are able to hold 2 contradicting perspectives within a song, at least half of the song would be a banger.
Love ya, KP