9toEarth are currently gearing up to release their latest EP, Kogarashi Tales which will be available on Friday the 26th of June. We’re fortunate enough to bring you a sneak peak of this EP in the form of their song, ‘Alone Again’. The track displays 9toEarth’s signature style of fragile, naked feelings mixed with the depth and darkness of raw industrial sound. The duo is comprised of Chilean artist Visonia (Nicolas Estany), and singer and songwriter Kika Stepa, who found inspiration from a trip to Japan and the contrasting atmosphere of Tokyo and its surrounding parks and shrines. Kogarashi Tales is a collection of personal, yet universal stories about love, loneliness, dependence and inner strength.
Our curiosity to learn more about the two drove us to an exclusive interview, where we explored their inspirations surrounding 9toEarth’s signature sound. Find it all below:
Describe your sound for us. What do you want people to feel when they hear your music?
Our music strives to create a balance of sound and word. Often in our music genre, the vocals are only a way to lift the beat. We wanted to create an experience where the complexity of sound, industrial strong beat but also flowing pad melodies intertwine with the lyrically sophisticated vocals. This need was mainly motivated by the structure of our work and the fact that we’re a duo. We wanted our two parts to create unity. We also want to build our sound on authenticity. Our main intention is to give to the audience a sculpture of feelings, with absolute honesty, sincerity, a part of our inner world. In terms of our debut EP “Kogarashi Tales,” we want the sound to reflect the stories behind each song but also some of the feelings that carried us through the process. Strong, industrial beat contrasted with melancholic sounds reminds of Tokyo, where a lot of inspiration for the album comes from. Generally, the idea of contrast, whether it is deep vocals set against soft, falsetto voice or the music, we wanted the inspiration to be heard. This album also explores the contrasting emotions that each of us has. Some of our songs are more nostalgic, focusing more on human vulnerabilities, but some are much darker, stronger; exploring deeper feelings, the dark side of the human psyche.
Which 3 artists have influenced you the most growing up?
The Knife, PJ Harvey, Dead Can Dance
How did you discover your particular sound?
Half of 9ToEarth previously existed as Visonia, a Chilean artist who is responsible for the music. His specific sound inspired by new wave classics, gothic influences and electronic music like The Knife can still be heard in this new collaboration. However, the addition of vocals and a new personality in the duo altered the original sound. Nicolas uses the word “canalize” to describe how he comes up with ideas. It’s a process of taking the information that comes to us and transforming it into a particular sound. But we also want to dig deeper and discover the layers of those inspirations. Depth is a very abstract concept and exploring it is is what allows us to move further with our art. We try to let the sound find us rather than attempting to discover it. The reason why we are doing music is that the way we interpret our surroundings and canalize the ideas that come to us is through sound and word. Something particular sound is also a unity of lyrics that are consistent throughout connected by a raw and visceral feeling, and the music that is a unique blend of techno, ambient, minimal wave and electro.
What are the most important pieces of equipment to you?
We use all kinds of equipment from the Novation Peak to voice recordings on our phones to capture inspirations. The most important thing is the idea. Equipment, whether analog or digital, doesn’t matter too much.
What outside of music inspires you to create?
Anything from a trip abroad, a documentary, a great art exhibition to little things like smells, shapes, sensations. We absorb everything around us and both consciously and subconsciously transform it into ideas for music. Being inspired is an artist’s job, so everything we experience outside of music can act as a source of a new idea.
Do you have a favourite memory of your career so far that you will take with you forever?
Our music career is just beginning but the recording of our first EP is surely something we’ll remember forever. Spending sometimes as long as 16 hours in the studio, working on this album was a physically draining process but it made us connect with what we do even more. We generally love the physical aspect of art, whether it is singing, painting, or any other art form. It makes us feel like a craftsman, like we’re building something tangible.
If you could work with, or perform alongside any artist living or passed, who would it be?
We are quite divided when it comes to collaborations. There are many artists we admire and would potentially want to perform with such us Dead Can Dance, Enya, Bjork, Depeche Mode, but there is also something special about making our own thing and letting other artists make theirs. Nicolas is more open to collaborations, but I lean towards making our music and building our identity rather than sharing it with other artists. This is also our style in general. From the cover photo on our EP which I took by myself to all art we share on Instagram, our future merch, costumes, we make everything on our own. I like this because it allows me to stay true to my vision completely but also showcase our other interests, not just our music.
Most artists say that if they weren’t artists they would be mailmen/women… what would you be?
We can’t imagine life without art. We believe everyone has a purpose and ours is creating music. Enrique Lihn, a Chilean poet wrote while dying “ Because I wrote, I am alive”. Music is what makes us alive.
What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
We are currently focused on releasing our first EP, but there will definitely be more music coming soon. Due to the pandemic, we had to postpone our gigging plans, but we’re prepping a recorded concert and will perform as soon as clubs are open.