KALI Trio are a Swiss post-genre band. They are: *Raphael Loher *(piano), *Urs Mülller *(guitar) and *Nicolas Stocker *(drums). They function as a collective, with every member contributing equally to the writing and creative processes. They are natives of a contemporary musical world in which club music, noise, new minimal, ambient and neo-classical chamber music are just dialects of a common language. They feel at home within the constraints of classical composition, simultaneously they are fluent in free / improvised musical contexts. They operate by following their musical intuition and drawing from a vast non-ideological understanding of music history. With this background KALI Trio craft beautiful, dark patterned spaces that serve as portals to meandering mystical journeys.
Interview conducted with drummer Nicolas Stocker.
1. Raphael likes to swim in water that doesn’t exceed 5 degrees Celsius. Nicolas doesn’t like swimming at all.
2. Urs is really into soccer, a vice that neither Nicolas nor Raphael can understand.
3. 4 seems to be our favourite number: KALI, Trio and Riot are all four letter words. Our current album is called LOOM and that, too…
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Last year, we made a huge shift as far as inspiration is concerned. Travelling and playing concerts might sound like the cliche, in this regard, but the void left by all the cancelled shows – due to the pandemic – made us painfully aware of how important they are to us as a catalysts. This new void forced us to search for inspiration in the music itself. We went back to the source to find a new sound, find a new pattern etc. The pandemic slowed everything down for us which, as a result, created the space that made us ask ourselves: „what kind of music do we REALLY want to make?“
2. How and when did you get into making music?
About eight years ago, Raphael and I met through a professor whom we shared back at our university. He thought that we had similar interests in sound, so he made the introduction. Needless to say, he was totally right! At that time, Urs was at a stage where he was kind of fed up with working in the pop world as a session musician, and was a looking for a more experimental outlet. The timing was right, because – in different ways – we all wanted more out of music.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Everyone has a different background, so it’s almost impossible to reduce the list to only five records. we decided to cheat a bit and put our individual fives, instead:
The Necks – Sex
Björk – Vespertine
Nicolas Jaar – Telas
Arvo Pärt – Tabula Rasa
Miles Davis – Four and More Live
Mark Hollis – Mark Hollis
Beatrice Dillon – Workaround
Karen Dalton – In My Own Time
Thelonious Monk – Solo Monk
John Luther Adams – The Wind in High Places
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Bob Dylan – Bringing it all back home
David Bowie – Honky Dory
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
We all have very different associations when it comes to Berlin. Raphael hasn’t spent that much time there, but I know for a fact that he felt comfortable in the city, right away, when we went there to work on our music. He enjoyed getting lost in the streets, just wandering around aimlessly soaking things up. Urs loves the omnipresence of culture in the city, both modern and historical. How everywhere you turn there is something new to discover.
For me, Berlin was a very important stage in my life, both as a musician and on a personal level. The first live show that I played in Berlin was at the Berghain, in 2016. This was with Nik Bartsch’s Mobile. The magic of this special show sparked my deep interest in the city. I eventually moved there, for a year, back in 2018. The city opened the door to club culture for me, and electronic music. It was all about Berghain and Berlin Atonal, when I lived there. As a band, we rehearsed in Berlin for a week, in the early stages of preparing for the LOOM session. Using someone’s “bedroom” as our rehearsal space was definitely a memorable experience. We had to wake our poor host up, every morning, and drag him out of his tent so that we could make some noise.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
We live in two different cities, Lucerne and Zürich. If I were to host you in Zürich, I would definitely take you out for brunch at Café des Amis, then for a walk up to Üetliberg for the best view over the city and we’d probably end up at a rave at Mikro. If it was on Urs and Raphael to take you around Lucerne, you’d probably start by chilling out at the lake, in front of the Wagner Museum, then take a swim and afterwards go to Neubad to see a concert. The venue is this giant, old, empty swimming pool, and it’s gorgeous!
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Raphael would get up every morning at 5:30, do 1 hour of ashtanga yoga and then go out and look after his goats. I would probably be extremely depressed, and I would probably pursue a career as a frustrated graphic designer. Urs would be a gourmet cook.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Do people still spend money on music?! Jokes aside, Raphael is always busy expanding his vinyl collection. The last record he bought was “Songs & Instrumentals” by Adrianne Lenker.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Kali Malone, Nicolas Jaar, Thom Yorke, Björk, Beatrice Dillon, Laurel Halo, Jack Quartett…
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
As a band, we had two very memorable concerts. It’s really hard to say which one was better. The first one took place at Jazzfestival Willisau, the second one in Kaliningrad, Russia. The one in Willisau was crazy! We played the main slot on a Saturday night. The festival is huge! We were blown away, because at that point we didn’t even release anything, yet. We shared the bill with Peter Evans Ensemble, one of the most insane avant-jazz bands, ever! In Kaliningrad, on the other hand, it was much more of a surprise, since we didn’t really know what to expect. When we came back to the club, after eating dinner, the place was packed; a very young audience. Even though it was a seated concert we could literally feel the tension in the room rise with every single note we played. Right at the peak of our show a guy in the front row literally jump out of his seat and started dancing. After the show, I think we hugged like half of the audience.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
We have a simple zoom recorder to document our rehearsals. We’re all pretty bad with computers and technology, but the current state of the music industry and the pandemic forced us to become better at it. That being said, we’ve been very inspired by electronic music and have been transferring some of the ideas that are prevalent there, and sounds, to our acoustic instruments.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
Even though we all have siblings Raphael’s brother seems to be the only one that ever comes to our concerts. They’re actually identical twins, which always confuses a few audience members.
Photo © Simon Habegger