Through his career, Ned East has found that the constant evolution of his soundscape has been the key to staying on-Kilter. He speaks to Rip Nicholson.
At 18, Kilter – who you’ll know as Ned East – spent his time making electro/house mix tapes. But it wasn’t until he started hip hop sampling that his scope broadened, evolving over the years through reworking classic soul and R&B before arriving at his current experimentation with percussive, island-themed tuneage.
“The reason why I started with sample-based hip hop was because it’s just kinda like drum programming,” admits the Sydneysider. “Not to sell it short, but that’s the limit to what I was doing. So when I started doing shows I was experimenting with electronic and it wasn’t until I put out that [Shades] EP where it was a bit more tropical [that] I felt more confident to dive into those sounds.”
Charting a line through Kilter’s career reveals an ascending journey of progression, connected en-route by a scattered array of genre-bending soundscapes. “I don’t think it was ever as conscious as that,” explains East. “If there was a line you could follow or some sort of characteristic of the sound that’s me, you’ll find my form has always been an evolving one.”
“You see people, I don’t want to really mention names, where one single would be a very definable house track and the next one would sound like Flume or something, like, that doesn’t make sense to me and seems like chart-grabbing.”
Like a lot of artists, East sees his progression from carrying one sampler and a MicroKORG to a whole percussion rig and an SPD-SX as the inevitable result of stretching out from his comfort zone. A natural way to overcome the challenges of creating new visions and charting new ground.
“I feel like it’s been more of a natural progression than a conscious decision to jump onto some sound that’s trending,” he states. “You see people, I don’t want to really mention names, where one single would be a very definable house track and the next one would sound like Flume or something, like, that doesn’t make sense to me and seems like chart-grabbing, but I think it’s only natural to evolve the music.”
On his latest single Fool For You, 24-year-old East has developed a grittier and more sonic production, which pits him against Micah Jey, one of the finest emerging vocalists in Australian music. He credits this song to her: “She’s insane!” professes East. “That track needs to be attributed to her. She actually presented a solid vocalised version of the track. [It] was originally done over some reggae-style beat and it really jumped out for me so I flipped it a lot of time and we fine-tuned it together and just went from there.”
As if Kilter needed the extra oomph, Fool For You saw support rise from the most unexpected place. Thanks Selena Gomez. “Selena Gomez made an Instagram post about it for a Marie Claire interview [June, 2016]. I didn’t know it was happening, then I just started getting all these tweets from Selena Gomez’ little 14-year-old followers. It’s pretty funny. It’s weird when that sort of thing happens.”