By Andy Downing
RedEye special contributor
3:13 PM CDT, May 11, 2014
It’s not surprising to learn that Bobby Krlic, the 28-year-old London native behind the Haxan Cloak, is heavily influenced by film scores, considering the artist’s sophomore album, the creepy, ambient “Excavation,” would double as an excellent alternate soundtrack to a goosebump-inducing horror flick.
“Before I wanted to be a musician I thought I was going to be a filmmaker,” said Krlic, reached at home in early May as he finished preparations for his first U.S. tour. “And I think a lot of the music has roots in the kind of films I would watch growing up.”
In fact, the musician recently signed with a high-profile Los Angeles agency and has several film score projects in the works, though nothing he could discuss yet. He did, however, hold court on a range of topics, including why he hopes his concerts leave attendees nauseous and his upcoming gig at this summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival.
This will be your first U.S. tour, but you’re already slated to return to Chicago later for Pitchfork.
Yeah, [Chicago is] on the list of places I’ve always wanted to see in America. For Pitchfork I think I’m going to stay the whole festival ‘cause there are quite a few people I want to catch, and I think it will be a lot of fun. I want to see Death Grips. I’ve never really seen them properly.
I’ve read you’re a fan of at least one Chicagoan: Kanye West. What is it about his music you’re drawn toward?
I think he’s really uncompromising as an artist, and I think he’s very clever. You never really know what he’s going to do, and whether you agree with him or not he’s always got a hell of a lot of conviction. You can only really respect that in someone.
Considering the low frequencies you employed on the new record, I imagine your show will be a physical experience as much as a listening one.
Absolutely. That’s one thing I’ve become very aware of in the last couple years playing shows. I want people to come away feeling something. A lot of people say [the show] makes them feel very tense, and their throat closes up. I don’t think I go to many shows these days where I feel physically affected by the music.
So would you consider it a successful evening if half the audience leave feeling nauseous?
Yeah, completely. It’s not necessarily designed to be pleasurable, but I guess that all hinges on what you derive pleasure from as well [laughs].
Even as a child, were you drawn to these darker, more ominous sounds?
I think so. When I was a kid, my brother, who is eight or nine years older than me, was really into a lot of metal, and he used to bring home Napalm Death records and Slayer records and a lot of dark rap music like early Ice Cube. We could never play it in the house, so we used to have these secret listening sessions in the shed.
The first record you actually bought was Lou Reed’s “Transformer” though, right?
I’m pretty lucky in the sense that my parents were heavily into music. I remember hearing “Transformer” at one of their friend’s houses and going out and buying it. The one track that really sticks out is “New York Telephone Conversation.” I think [Reed] was an incredible storyteller, and as a kid growing up in quite a small town in England, listening to his lyrics was like visiting this absolutely [bleeping] mental world you could never even imagine. It just sounded so crazy.
How did you react to his death last October?
I was really sad. It’s difficult when those types of people die, I guess, because you kind of feel like you don’t have any right to be upset about it because you never even met them and there are people around them who’ve they’ve been close to for 50 years, so what right do I have to be moved? But when you listen to somebody’s music that long … you definitely feel like they helped shape the way you view the world.
Did you chuckle when Rolling Stone listed your album among the 20 best dance albums of 2013?
[Laughs] To be honest I was flattered to be even recognized by a magazine like Rolling Stone. I appreciate that it’s a very, very hard record to define or to categorize. There was a magazine in England that named it dubstep record of the month or something. So it did make me laugh, but even more than that I was taken aback that they even knew what it was.
I just pictured a DJ dropping a track like “Consumed” in a crowded club.
[Laughs] Yeah, some dude who got a gig and was like, “Aw, man, I don’t know what to play,” and he looks up the 20 best dance records and picks that one. I think he’d be out of a job pretty quickly.
The Haxan Cloak, 9 p.m. Wed. at Lincoln Hall. $13-$15.
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