Bedroom producers are the self-publishers of the music world, DIY crusaders making music on their own steam and striving to be the next Flume, Grimes or James Blake. It's a pervasive assumption that home production is a stop-gap for struggling musicians before they manage to get themselves into a professional studio. In practice, electronic music in particular lends itself beautifully to MacGyvered production methods, not just as a way to keep costs down but for the gritty imperfections that come innately from making music in a home studio.
For Melbourne's phreshest electronic duo Kllo (Simon Lam and Chloe Kaul), recording in their own home bungalow was as DIY as it gets. "We used a doona as the vocal booth," laughs Chloe, explaining that DIY production helps to soften the polished and artificial sheen that stigmatises so much electronic music. "We want a homely, organic sound, so we use analogue synths and home-made sounds like beating pots and pans. We didn't want it to be too clean."
Kllo are having one hell of a year. They've got two singles under their collective belt, both well received, just nailed their appearance at Splendour in the Grass (for the second time), DJed at the official Splendour pre-party, and played a killer party set at Concrete Playground and Sonos's Beach Break with Good Manners labelmate Banoffee. This August, they'll be releasing their album Well Worn and touring nationally. They're proving exactly what a couple of DIY musos with drive can do when they put their minds to it.
We sat down with Kllo to mine some of their best working-from-home advice.
EVEN BEDROOM PRODUCERS DON'T SLEEP WHERE THEY WORK
The first thing any work-from-homer will tell you is that you should never work in bed (and not just because you will get crumbies in the sheets). In fact, this was Simon's first suggestion and a tested truism.
"You've gotta separate your living and working space. It's so important, even if you've only got one room to work out of, just draw a line down it," he suggests. "I've worked out of bedrooms for a long time and when it kind of all bleeds together, it becomes unhealthy. It's nice to shut the door at the end of the day and feel like you've left work".
Separating work and play is universally acknowledged as a crucial part of not completely losing your mind while working from home. To this end, Kllo work out of two spaces, the bungalow (a room off Simon's house in the 'burbs) and a studio in the CBD.
"The energies are different," says Simon. "It's good to be able to walk through the city and come [to the studio] and maintain that high-paced energy. Whereas at the bungalow, it's really isolated, we can work a whole day without talking to anyone but ourselves… you can really get into your own head."
TREAT YOUR CREATIVE JOB LIKE A REAL JOB
Like so many things in life, a big part of a creative career is turning up. Not turning up at the clurb but physically (and mentally) turning up to your work space and grinding away even when there's no-one but yourself to report to. Throw the sporadic nature of creativity into play and the isolation of working from home and you've got yourself a bit of a quagmire.
"Sometimes you can be so disciplined, but then you go to make music in your scheduled time and nothing happens," says Simon. "You can't prepare for when blocks come on."
"Times like those are when it's good to do other things and then come back to it," Chloe adds.
IF YOU HAVE TO PROCRASTINATE, DO IT WITH A SIT-DOWN MEAL
"When we're having a mental block, we eat. We congregate in the kitchen, kettle on, lots of food and coffees. Or treats if we're really down," Chloe says "Then we try to fill ourselves with a lot of carbs and then sugar."
"We tend to just have full meals," Simon adds. "A lot of breakfast foods."
"We'll have a sit down meal of eggs, avocado, toast," says Chloe. "I also like a Kit Kat Chunky, Sim got me into them. I love that first bite, when it's all chocolate — so good. I've got to stop talking about this, I want one now."
MAKE SURE YOU'RE COMFORTABLE IN YOUR SPACE
On screen, crispy, white, Tumblr-esque minimalism is king, but in real life it's unnatural, not to mention impractical. This rings especially true for electronic musicians. "Some studios are just so sterile, a vacuum for sound and creativity," says Simon. "I think being comfortable is more important, to make sure you're comfortable and not being put off by anything."
Kllo's studio in the CBD is a collaborative space where they're currently working on their album. It's a busy space, littered with knick knacks, beer cans sprouting fluffy cacti, slick high-tech gadgetry including Sonos's smart speaker system, oddments of furniture, shelves clustered with figurines and piles of gear, hedged with endless bundles of cords. In the well-walked studio space of pre-tour musicians, in the midst of promoting an upcoming album, there's no room for impractical minimalism.
"But plants are good. Plants are helpful, they bring some life amongst all the metal," Chloe says. "And for us, it's important to play a lot of music at home and in the studio to get inspired and feel at home. You've gotta have a good sound system set up, for sure."
DON'T BE AFRAID TO DREAM A LITTLE BIGGER
What does Kllo's ideal studio look like? "I reckon it's all wood, with a nice spa," Chloe says. "Big windows and a lot of forest around it." Simon's on board with the window game. "For me it's definitely big windows and when you look out of the window there's a huge garden but then it's actually somewhere really central," he says.
And an in-house chef? "Oh, of course. That would be our main thing," Chloe says "if there was an in-house chef I'd just ask him to make me cocktails all day." "I think I'd like a private Coles or Safeway downstairs too," Simon adds. We couldn't agree more.
And now for a little music. Here's what Kllo are listening to right now, crank it up.
Want to have studio-level sound in your own home? We're teaming up with Sonos to giveaway one of their coveted PLAY:1 speakers, valued at $299.