Terminal V Podcast 058 || Kairogen

Kairogen is one of the many great products of the vibrant Glaswegian techno scene, but it was her time at art school which first got her into electronic sounds. When a lecturer encouraged Kirsten Henderson to make some sounds to go along with an installation project, she soon disappeared down a rabbit hole of musical research that continues to this day.

Her own sound is drawn to the ambient and experimental end of the spectrum and has come on labels like Soma. She is now a staple of the Scottish scene and a proven selector with plenty of party-starting tricks up her sleeve.

She shows that in this week’s mix as well as getting into her backstory, what draws her to the sounds she makes and plays and more besides.

What influence has the Glasgow scene had on you? Does it directly inspire you or your sound?

Getting into going out in Glasgow was really the start of my interest in DJing – I’d find it particularly exciting seeing a local DJ play early on as I was more able to picture myself doing the same and it’s nice to see someone representing where you come from. Musical influences for me nowadays personally are often from further afield however, particularly the deep techno scene in Europe or even more London-based sounds.

How important was your time working at Sub Club? What did you learn from that?

Of course I learned a lot from working there, week in week out I’d get to listen to sets start to finish from a number of years – I think it’s important to hear a range of sounds rather than only your chosen area as inspiration can come from something you weren’t expecting. There’s a culture ingrained into Sub Club of keeping the music well paced for the time of night and choosing music that feels appropriate for the situation that has had a huge influence on my direction. It gave me the chance to see how impactful you can make things at a slower tempo.

And how does your background at art school impact the work you do? Did it instil in you a certain way of thinking about creativity, about audiences, about translating thoughts and feelings into physical pieces or sound?

Yes it definitely had a strong impact. Storytelling is encouraged frequently at art school and whether consciously or not this comes out when I play or make music. I’m grateful for my time researching different forms of art and it’s all the same thing really expressed in a different form so it’s good to be able to take inspiration from all sorts of areas and the way different artists see things.

What is ambient to you? What draws you to that end of the spectrum?

I grew up playing violin and I loved the cinematic elements of being in an orchestra and ambient music can take me back to that. It’s good to have a break from everything being about club sounds and you can push playing without solid beats sometimes a lot longer than you think. Production wise it’s what I’m often drawn to but I’m working towards some dance-floor things coming out too.

Does electronic music get the respect it deserves as an art form do you think, or will it always be looked down upon compared to fine art, for example?

I actually wrote my dissertation on this topic, and I think the scene has changed massively since I wrote it. It’s a complex subject, as sometimes people are there for the music and sometimes they might not be. Electronic music is now so wide that I think there is space for the more commercial side as well as the artistic and people who are genuinely being creative will always shine through and take things in new directions.

What do you have coming up?

This weekend I have a gig with Headset at Lost On Leith alongside acts like Neil Landstrumm and Proc Friskal. Next week I’m back in Edinburgh for Ona:v’s Epika, and the following week I’m playing Sub Club Soundsystem.

Tell us about your mix, the aim you had with it, and what you wanted it to say.

I was very excited about the mix after I recorded it. It was just recently after a run of gigs where I had felt really inspired – I had played at Subculture, Kelburn Garden Party and an all night long set for Lost Transmission within the last 2 weeks. My music collection was full of new things that felt fresh and interesting. The mix stitches together some of my most influential sounds and current favourites.

What gear did you use, is that important to you in any way whether in the booth or studio?

I tend to use Allen and Heath as a mixer but honestly that and Pioneer both have their own benefits so I’m happy on either. Studio wise I’ve got a push and some midi equipment, Yamaha monitors, Tascam for field recordings and some instruments – but when it comes down to it I use Ableton Wavetable the most to make music – often creating entire tracks only using that synth.


Interview by Kristan Caryl