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KATE SIMKO

My style is a combination of the music that influenced me growing up in Chicago - classical, jazz, house, and electronic music. I started taking jazz piano lessons and a music production course while at the university, which was the first step away from classical piano into composing my own music.

You have a very varied style; how did it develop? Have you ever been fascinated by any specific artist?
It’s funny, I don’t see my style as varied, but thanks 🙂 My style is a combination of the music that influenced me growing up in Chicago – classical, jazz, house, and electronic music. I started taking jazz piano lessons and a music production course while at the university, which was the first step away from classical piano into composing my own music. It took a while to find my own sound, but it’s been a fun journey along the way! The two artists that fascinated me the most were John and Alice Coltrane.

You have been playing piano since you were very young, has it been difficult to blend classical and electronic music in your life?
To be honest, I looked at them as separate worlds until recently. I moved to London to get a Masters in Composition for Screen at the Royal College of Music. While writing film music, I starting combining orchestral instruments into electronic backdrops, and it blended naturally.

You have released excellent music not only with other people, like Jamie Jones, but also as a solo artist. Now here is your new project with London Electronic Orchestra. What is it about?
Ah thanks! While I was at the RCM I met some great musicians who were up for experimentation, and that’s how London Electronic Orchestra first started. I began writing songs for electronic and classical instruments and that turned into the upcoming LEO album.

Kate Simko & LEO is an all-female band. Is this intentional or a coincidence? Who are your fellow musicians? How did you meet them?
To be honest, it just sort of came together that way. We had a male cellist at our first show, and afterwards he said he was too busy to continue with the project. Next we filled the slot with a great female cellist, and have stuck with her. I work with some great male instrumentalists at recording sessions and at some shows. But the core band is me and six other female musicians.

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What’s your opinion on the classical music scene nowadays?
The classical scene in London is inspiring because there is a lot of new music, young composers, and a large enthusiastic audience. In Chicago, the classical music world is much more conservative. The consensus seems to be that London and New York are the two main hubs for forward-thinking classical music. Style-wise, the two modern classical composers I admire the most are Philip Glass and Steve Reich. It seems that the most prevalent style of new classical music is very abstract – with little melody or harmony. Personally I prefer minimalism, and Romanticism that is lush and beautiful, and am into modern composers like Max Richter, Francesco Tristano, and Nico Muhly.

Any plans for the future? Any dream that you want to make come true?
My plans right now are centred around London Electronic Orchestra. My dream is to tour the project worldwide with the full band.

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How important is London for you? Can you tell us about your best musical experiences in London?
Moving to London has been a life-changing experience. I’ve met so many amazing people through the Royal College of Music and around this city who have inspired me on an artistic and personal level. My best experiences here were opening up the iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse, and my favourite club night – fabric’s birthday!

Any plans for more live performances or DJ sets in London?
Next up is our LEO album release party the 12th May at The Pickle Factory (across from Oval Space). It’s a cool intimate venue with wooden ceilings and warm sound. Really looking forward to performing the LEO live show there! We’ve got Gabriel Prokofiev’s Nonclassical collective on board, as well Kubicle in for production vibes, and a very special guest DJ. Going to be a fun one!
My next show in London is a DJ set at fabric on 28th May. It’s my first time DJing in Room 1, so really excited for it!

As SEEN magazine is about art, architecture, culture, music, fashion, gastronomy, shopping and entertainment, what are your personal recommendations to our readers of what to do in London, by day or night?
One of my favourite things to do in London is find a top-rated restaurant in a neighborhood, then explore it after the meal. Recently I went to Russian restaurant Mari Vanna in Knightsbridge, then walked to the Science Museum in South Kensington. Also, if you have only one dinner in London, don’t miss Dishoom. It’s my favourite Indian restaurant, and the Shoreditch location is just steps away from Village Underground and lots of bars for a night out.

Credits

  • Text Toni Bass
  • Photographer Dan Wilton
  • Stylist Hayley Nunn
  • Makeup Anna Wild

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