Kauf on inspiration and process for "Regrowth"

Post Author: Virginia Croft

Artist Kauf Fills us up with emotional impacts such as beauty, denial, hope and doubt in his new album titled “Regrowth”. His writings are mostly about the closest relationships he’s had in his life, each track explores noticeable changes and the effects it brought through electronics. Recently the single “Limestone” was released as the 4th track to hype up this new album which is set to release October 13th. Kauf on inspiration and process for “Regrowth”.


Your tracks have a very cool, reflective vibe to them. How did you become involved in music, and more specifically this genre?

“I’ve been interested in music that looks inward for a long time, as opposed to creating something that simply expresses an emotion or makes an audience dance. I try to incorporate those elements in my music, but my favorite artists always have something more introspective about their lyrics and reward you if you take the time to really examine them. Fever Ray and Bjork have been huge influences for me because they are able to combine that kind of lyricism with really unique production techniques that can also get an audience moving.”
“I’ve been drawn more to electronic production because of the sound design possibilities. They’re just more exciting, especially after coming from a background of playing in standard guitar-based rock bands. Playing around with synths and sampling etc provided me with more happy accidents in the studio. Plus I could do everything myself, so I didn’t have to rely on band members’ schedules and motivation.”
“As for this type of music, I went through a period when I was younger where I was more focused on politics and even wrote political songs. Then, through some self-therapy after listening to various psychology podcasts and books, I started to understand that our personal histories are where most of these huge global problems come from, which reinforced the idea that writing very personal songs were worthwhile. I had been focusing on these big issues that I couldn’t really affect much because I was avoiding confronting my own family about longstanding problems, which also spilled over into my romantic relationships and friendships.”
“Mostly I needed to confront them about being spanked and yelled at. Those two things and a general lack of empathy for children are still huge problems in society, and most of the time when we make an excuse for our parents saying “they did the best they could” we are continuing that cycle of violence. Last I read, spanking is still practiced by roughly 90% of American households, even though it’s obvious that training children to be obedient through aggression or threats would only lead some to use that as a strategy in their own adult lives, which has also been borne out in countless studies.”
“I feel like my music and this album, in particular, are a way to get this story out, that I was aggressed against like many people, and that this is not normal, though very common. We should not reserve our empathy for only those who are horribly abused. I believe it is the more mild and accepted violence that needs to be brought to light in order to heal our society. My songs don’t reference spanking etc. by name because they have proven very difficult to put in a song, but the various effects are, like distance and superficiality in relationships, and having to figure out what real love is.”

When composing your music, do you wait for inspiration, or can you just sit down and create

“It’s a bit of both. If I just waited for inspiration, it would never get finished. The hardest part of making a song for me is the last 20-30%. An idea for a lyric or a wordless melody might easily come to me while driving or in the shower and I’ll rush to get it down, or I can hunt for samples in old records that might inspire something, but figuring out the whole song structure and arrangement is serious work sometimes. I have to sort of treat it like a job and really just sit down and focus on it every day for long periods of time, even if I’m not feeling inspired. I keep trying different things until it feels right.”

How do you think living in LA affects your music?

“I think it just makes me work harder to improve. Being involved in the music scene here, you see how many talented artists there are who are struggling to be heard. I feel like every song I put out has to be something I absolutely love or it’s not worth it.
It’s also probably made me think more about how the songs will translate live. LA audiences have access to great music all the time so they can be tough to get moving sometimes, so I’ve focused on getting the beats to be as strong as possible.”

What was your recording process like for Regrowth?

“It was all done in my home studio over a long period of time. Some of the tracks started with a sample from an old record, a melodic idea on a synth, or a drum groove that I usually build by hand in Ableton just drawing midi notes in. I spent a lot of time layering samples together to get the textured drum sounds I wanted, and I used a few vintage synths, spring reverbs and tape delay. I don’t like working solely in the box because there are too many options. Using specific pieces of gear helped to limit my sound palette and make the record more cohesive I think. Analog gear just has more life to it, more organic inconsistencies, so it usually sounds better to me when paired with real instruments or field recordings etc.”

Were there any major challenges during the process?

“Well, you definitely run into issues with tuning and reliability with the vintage equipment. The entire track Through the Yard was recorded about 30 cents flat because the first synth I recorded for it was not in tune and I didn’t want to recreate it or pitch shift it. Also, because I like to layer in a lot of sounds, mixing the record myself was very time-consuming. Luckily I was able to get some detailed feedback from some other musicians with great ears like Robin Hannibal from Rhye and Tom Coveney from Psychemagik/Thomas Banks, but I ended up taking countless versions of every song out to my car to make sure the mixes were right.”

The process of creating music can be fulfilling, but also very draining. How do you recharge yourself
these days?

“Kombucha and coffee! Or a walk through downtown LA where I live.”