Interview: Kilter talks all things music with album collaborator Pip Norman


After a long wait, Sydney producer Kilter has finally released his first full length, studio album, ‘Through The Distortion’.

This album sees Ned travel through a broad range soundscapes and musical atmospheres, with each track representing a unique narrative he has protrayed in the way his eclectic, pop-infused electronic production.

The album is chock-full collaborations, with several singer-songwriters joining the fold to help bring this stellar project to life. One those artists is Melbourne’s Pip Norman.

Pip, who is a veteran in the scene, joined Kilter on the track ‘Hold Tight’; a moving track that displays a fluid working relationship between the pair.

With the album now one week old and fully digested, it’s about time we shared a co-operative interview that both Kilter and Pip put together. If music talk is your thing, then so is this interview.

Read both interviews, and stream ‘Through The Distortion‘ in full below.

Pip Norman to Kilter

Pip: What’s been a standout moment for you in pulling together the upcoming album?

Kilter: I actually just got my hands on the first physical copies a few weeks ago. It all feels very real now! The whole process writing was filled with ups and downs so finally getting to hold (and subsequently scribble all over) the finished thing was a special moment.

P: When you’re making a track, do you usually like to start with a small idea or feeling (like an intro or verse part) and then build from there? Or do you usually start with the climax the song (chorus/drop) and work your way back?

K: Playing around with weird sounds and manipulating drum samples/breaks is normally what sparks ideas for me. This will start as a small idea that I will massage into a groove and then develop. These ideas can end up being anything, from a chorus or a drop to a verse or breakdown.

P: What do you like to do to get in the zone for a writing session (night time or morning? Mid hang-over or post yoga? Caffeine or meditation? Red wine or green tea? Or just whenever?)

K: As long as it’s after midday I can normally operate pretty well caffeinated, drunk or hung-over. I always get a crazy buzz productivity from cfee, but started to find, especially as I was finishing production on the album, that this would also result in forgetting to eat meals! My ideal session would start at 12.30 after a solid breakfast and continue well into beer-o-clock.

P: Do you go through phases self-doubt and hating your own ideas and feeling like an imposter before settling into your best work? Or do you keep a fairly even keel?

K: I think everybody goes through waves loving and hating their work. I’m guessing that’s just art… One thing I did find is that there is always a point when the song is like 90% finished where I would start hating on the track I’m working on. The final 10% can be such a mental drain but when you break through it, it’s a great feeling.

P: Electronic music has gone to some radical places in the last 10 years… and genres seem to be merging into each other and then splintering into sub genres at a mad rate. Where do you see electronic music might be headed in the next 10 years to come?

K: Electronic music has never been bigger than it is right now. Producers are now some the world’s biggest stars and I don’t think that is going to change for some time. While this new success has exposed a lot questionable stuff, it has also opened the door for more subtle and experimental sides electronic music to find a wider audience.

This has already started to shift the sound pop music with huge artists like Ariana Grande and The Weeknd working with Cashmere Cat or Charli XCX working with Sophie and Mura Masa. Before the end the year big pop records will all sound like bizarre Soundcloud productions from a few years back and fringe genres that previously only had a small online community will keep breaking ground in the mainstream.

Kilter to Pip Norman

Kilter: As a seasoned veteran the music scene, what has been the most noticeable change between the musical climates in Australia now compared to when you first started?

Pip: One the main things is that it’s more acceptable, expected even to commercialise your own musical art these days. When TZU started out
(2000), there was a left over grunge /punk attitude where making music was more about sticking it to the man and going against the mainstream. Record companies were weary sync jobs in advertising as some form selling out and in indie artist could never co-write with a pop writer. Now it’s more like anything goes and it’s anyone’s game, for better or worse!

K: Having released four albums with your group TZU, and been a part many more, what advice can you give to me as an artist about to release my first? 

P: Tour your ass f and keep writing – be an artist before a careerist, and above all – be creative with your rider.

K: Over the last few years, you have done some amazing work as a songwriter across a broad range genres. How do you find your process changes when writing for another artist vs writing for you own projects?

P: When writing for my own projects I’m completely free to go wherever and take as long as I need to get there. When writing for others and being a co-writer, everyone is sitting and waiting for the results, so how one handles that pressure and expectation can make or break a session.

K: On that note, what was been the weirdest session you’ve been a part ?

P: I did a classic session in LA where we were teamed up with a young YouTube-style celebrity. From the first minute, I knew it was going to bomb. He was not a singer, he was popular for his antics and social media bravado. He was also cocky and not particularly likeable, but you know, I don’t need to like someone to have a great session. Regardless, it just went on for hours nothing really happening other than terrible auto tune singing and then his entourage rocked up! Me and the other writer bailed and did Karaoke instead.

K: When I have spent a significant amount time on the road I get a crazy itch to get back into the studio and put new ideas down. As an artist who now spends more time in the studio than the tour bus where do you find your inspiration and motivation?

P: Inspiration just comes at me whether I like it or not, it gets me out bed in the morning and keeps me awake at night.  Sometimes I take a few weeks f writing just to be outside and not creating, just so I can let the inspiration accumulate in my chest and the ideas perch my periphery ..then I get that itch to dive back in and disappear into the songs.