Who are the members of your band and what are their musical backgrounds?
Kish Kollektiv is a one-man studio project, an ironic “collective” of one, with a dilettante called Michele Sarto (“Mike” to my friends, people never pronounce my full name properly – mick-a-lay, not “Michelle”!) composing and arranging the music, playing all the instruments, carrying out all the mixing, producing and mastering and all other related matters…not through any particular multi-discipline expertise, it’s simply more manageable and cost effective.
Apart from a GSCE in Music (!), I have no formal qualifications. My background is guitar, which I learned to play as a child. I’ve also dabbled with bass and keyboards to different extents. Drum machines, synthesizers and other technology have enabled me to leverage my modest musical abilities considerably.
How long have you been in the music industry?
May 2018 is when I took the step of making my music commercially available, which is when the “Kish Kollektiv” brand was born.
What Genre would you call your music?
As insane as it sounds, “faux retro horror film scores” - soundtracks for movies that exist only in your imagination.
Who are your major influences?
The pioneers of the 1970s/1980s “Golden Age” of synthesizer scores, Carpenter, Harrison, Goblin and Frizzi are the most obvious examples. I could also mention electronica artists like Numan, Vangelis and Jarre as well as guitar gods like Vai, Satriani, Di Meola, Holdsworth and Stanley Clarke. Industrial artists like Consolidated and Meatbeat Manifesto deserve a nod and I also find Dominic Fernow’s various projects fascinating, particularly Vatican Shadow.
How old were you when you started following a musician’s path?
I was 11 years old when I first started to learn to play the guitar, so I suppose that’s where it all began for me.
Tell me a funny story that has happened to you as you.
When I was at school, we used to go to the local leisure centre for swimming lessons. Usually, you could pin your locker key to your swimming trunks, but on this occasion the key I had didn't have a pin attached. I left it on the side near the viewing gallery where our school teacher would sit. After showering, I realised that I'd left my key behind. I returned to the poolside to get it, having completely forgotten to put my trunks back on...and inadvertently "flashed" the swimming instructor and my teacher, both of whom were female...
Where would you like to be in five years?
Ideally in Venice occupying a spacious apartment with a nice view of the lagoon…but as that’s somewhat unlikely, I’d like to have moved into composing scores/sound design for films and documentaries in some capacity.
What inspires you to write?
As what I compose is similar to soundtrack music, the glaringly obvious answer is the work of genuine composers who work in that field and the visuals and emotional textures of films, TV shows and documentaries. More generally, life experiences play a huge part, particularly nostalgia for the past, which is something I feel very acutely. The weird thing about any sort of art is that negativity can inspire as much as positivity, perhaps even more so. Sometimes it can be the most random thing, like a certain slant of sunlight late in the afternoon when I’m walking through the woods near where I live, the elegant decay of a dilapidated building or even a vivid dream or nightmare I’ve had.
What is your philosophy of life and how does it affect your music?
I suppose I’m a classic liberal, so I believe in the principles of individual freedom to succeed or fail (within the bounds of the law of course), a high degree of personal accountability and a “live and let live” mindset. If we must be judged, I think it should be on a person’s actions and the content of their character, rather than according to immutable traits or whatever label society has attached. It’s difficult to discern how this “weltanschauung” affects my music, which is obviously apolitical by its very nature but as all artistic expression is an extension of the self, it must play its part somehow.
Do you have any causes that tug at your heartstrings, or that you support? Abused pets, world peace organization, save the whales, etc…
Like a lot of people, I have a huge soft spot for animals. I think humanity has a duty of care to domesticated animals in particular, as they wouldn’t exist in the first place if not for our intervention; they’re like “colonised species” as the documentary maker Louis Theroux once said. There are so many causes out there it’s intimidating to contemplate; sometimes it seems – as Michael Franti very poetically suggested once – we’re so busy trying to put all the fires of the world out with a water pistol, we neglect to squirt the flowers in our own backyard.
Do you have any new releases coming out?
I’ve almost completed a third faux horror soundtrack, “Elevator Game”, influenced somewhat by the tragic story of Elisa Lam, a young Canadian lady who died under the most mysterious of circumstances at a supposedly haunted hotel in Los Angeles. It could be seen as a semi-sequel to Kish Kollektiv’s 2018 album, “Children of the Cambion” (which was inspired by the black-eyed children urban legend). The Ruscara Laudanski character reluctantly returns from self-imposed isolation for one last paranormal investigation when her wild, thrill-seeking young cousin goes missing after unwisely dabbling with the so-called “Elevator Ritual”, a way of accessing a deserted parallel Earth via – you guessed it – an elevator. I'm hoping to have this ready to go by June at the latest.
I'm also working on an electronica side project (not under the “Kish Kollektiv” banner this time) which I hope to have finished by late spring/early summer as well, a collection of compositions very loosely inspired by the Federation of Damanhur, a fascinating New Age community in northern Italy who previously claimed to have mastered the theory and practice of time travel.