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Interviewed by
Michael McClelland
Wednesday 9th May, 2012 2:27PM

Reuben Winter of Bandicoot and Kitsunegari fame has turned his focus on solo electronic project Totems, recently releasing an album of material from the past couple of years.  Currently tripping around the UK and Europe with his whanau, he took a bit of break from sightseeing and answered some questions about the project, his influences and a new artist collective he's involved in...

All your other projects have been guitar-based – so why electronic for a solo thing?

Totems is just what I make when I hang out in my bedroom, it’s not consciously meant to be a non-guitar thing but I just like hip-hop and electronic shit so I thought I’d give it a smang?

I guess it would be easier to set up gear for shows….

Yeah, all I need is laptop and controller. The only problem is getting a good PA with subzz.

How does one record electronic music, anyway?

I use Fruity Loops, it’s a real basic program. Heaps of people talk shit about it but it’s the same as any instrument, it’s not so much the instrument but the person using it?

What kind of stuff has influenced Totems?

Brainfeeder, 90s NYC hip hop, 808 heavy southern shit, Satan, warp, Lil B, hyperdub, video games and 420.

Can you hear a lot of it in the music?

I guess different parts come through, for instance I use a lot of 808 drums and southern/trap drum beats but then I might put a spacey synth and a rave-y arp on top or something, so I like to think that I take all my favourite elements in music and just throw them all together.

How long does it usually take you to come up with stuff?

It really depends, some beats I'll work on for months and others I will make the basis of it in a single night. Either way I‘ll come back and keep adding and tweaking shit till I'm happy. Most of the stuff, with a few exceptions, on my album I made the basics in a couple of days. Right before I released it I came back and changed stuff on almost all of the songs, some of which were like 2 years old. So I guess if you look at it that way it takes me from whenever I make it, right up until the day I release it seeing as you have that control with electronic music.

Do you find it harder to write electronic music than guitar music?

It’s quite different, I mean when I write guitar music I just pick up the guitar and fuck around and the fucking around turns into a riff then to a song pretty quickly. But writing stuff on my computer I can start with any number of things, usually a drum beat or a synth line, which kinda makes it a bit more free to work with than just guitar.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Lil B, Smashing Pumpkins, East Coast Screw Vol.1, Joker+Ginz, Sunn O))) and Lil Ugly Mane

Bullhorn samples?

Air horn bruh, I youtubed it and then downloaded it. It’s basically the best sound in existence.

Who else do you play shows with?

I’ve only played a couple of times but mostly Career Girls [Lawree Goodwin of Tied on Teeth]. I wanna start doing some more shit with my "collective" thing KCB

So what is KCB exactly?

KCB is a collective of likeminded people who make/do cool shit. It consists of myself, Lontalius/Race Banyon, ENO, Kieran Tahir, Career Girls, Skymning and CAREERWOLF. We all make kinda different shit but that’s what I like about it, the fact that we don’t have to conform to anything and we can just do whatever the fuck we want. I guess there are common themes and influences that we share but overall we are just focused on making good music and supporting each other to get it out there. There's also the art side of things which has other friends of ours contributing, like Cole who did the cover for 10-11. There's been talk of making a zine also, but I don't wanna make anything too concrete.

Considering how long you’ve been entrenched in the All Ages scene in Auckland, do you think you’ll start playing bar shows once you get the opportunity when you’re 18?

Oh yeah for defs, I’ll play anywhere more or less. Bars are just usually real depressing to play at cos most people are fucking shit there and are more interested in standing in the back of the room drinking their $10 beer than actually seeing some music. But that’s just been with bands, so who knows what would happen if I DROPPED THE BA$$.

Where do you think you’ll be when you’re 28?

420/247 or dead.

Would you say there are enough glitch/trip-hop acts in Auckland?

Not that I know of? I mean there's some cool stuff, but I only really go to shows with bands cos most electronic things are R18.

What would you say is the best thing coming out of NZ right now?

Fuuuuck, that's hard man. I really like Sharpie Crows, Forest Spirits and Grass Cannons. I would say CARTOON but he lives in Australia now FUCKING SELLOUT. Hopefully without sounding like a wanker, I also think that the shit on Kerosene Comic Book is real good. The fact that I listen to music that my friends make real often kinda says something.

Where are you in Europe right now? Have you looked into the music scene there much?

I was just in the UK, but I'm leaving from Heathrow at the moment. Haha, not really - I just went and did semi-touristy shit with ma famz. But it was real cool. The closest I got was a dude playing dubstep from a stall in the Camden markets


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