Our goal was an immersive experience that stimulates all senses
Antwerp collective KRANKk is preparing to dazzle us with their multi-disciplinary and multi-sensory show, RESET, at 4th Stream Festival in Bozar. Keys player Aram Abgaryan and drummer Thomas Geysen met up to tell us about the show, which features dancers, speech, visuals, light, smells and of course their music. RESET is a story about isolation, individualism and looking for connection. Coming out of isolation with positive vibes and original collaborations, we have much to look forward to from this bouncing collective and their nostalgic yet fresh sound.
So, who are KRANKk?
Thomas: I’m the drummer of KRANKk.
Aram: I play keys and electronics.
T: There’s also Willem who plays the guitar. The three of us are producers as well, Aram is head of engineering: mixing and mastering the tracks. We’ve been going for four years now.
How did KRANKk come to be?
T: We had the same ambition for something new. We wanted to bring electronic genres like garage, grime, jungle, footwork in a hybrid live set. We aimed to work with all different kinds of artists. Not only singers and rappers but visual artists, dancers, filmmakers and theatre-makers as well.
A: It just came from the love for the same music.
What do you like about UK garage and Drum and bass?
A: The sound and the history behind it. There’s happiness in UK garage, the 90’s sound with all these wobble basses. Watching footage from the early days of Garage and Drum and bass makes me want to go back in time.
T: The energy. Burial’s obscure sound in particular was a big inspiration. Also the feeling of the music. You can find the swing of Jazz music within the garage and jungle grooves. Playing with these sounds and rhythms gets us excited. We try to project that feeling into our audience.
Let’s talk about the 4th Stream Festival. Are you looking forward to it?
T: Yes, can’t wait!
A: We did a massive upgrade on the live set, RESET, so it’s very exciting for us. I believe RESET can keep on evolving. The concept can get stronger and stronger.
T: Throughout the pandemic, we have been developing this without being able to bring it live and experiment on stage. It’s insane to be able to perform this piece in such beautiful theatres.
For the show you’re working with dancers and visual artists as well, how did that collaboration come about?
T: About 2 years ago, our management approached us with this project called Revelland, a group of experts who work with different senses around live performances. The goal is to make not only an inclusive project but a multi-sensory and varied show. We used our album DARK and DARK/AFTERMATH to improvise with dancers with disabilities. You dissolve the disability when you’re in that flow, with that mindset, creating art together. It has continued to evolve. We also work with good friends of ours, Rabba Kinkela (dance) and Younis Ahamad (visuals).
Being on stage is something else
A: Younis works with visuals and incorporates light, visuals and music to make colossal performances. Younis and our manager Vincent (Cloudshaper) are a great duo in directing the production. When you trust people and know what they do, any outcome will have the quality you are looking for. We leave a lot of creative space around the concepts, to let everyone reach their full potential.
So how has RESET become something immersive?
A: For a long time we had to throw away ideas that would allow the audience to be fully immersed in the experience because of the corona restrictions.
T: But, there are still ways we provide the immersive experience. There are smells that we can send out. Everybody notices it. We’ve also been experimenting with quadraphonic production, with 2 speakers in front, left and right, and two behind as well. Using 16 speakers, the effects become immense.
There’s a bittersweet thing about it. It’s very beautiful to see the dancers moving and making sculptures with this text
I read that the music is inspired by isolation and individualism, yet it seems so full of joy and connection.
T: There is this mysticism inside our music that gets pulled through all of the aspects of the show. In these times though, it is our goal to turn isolation into a collective togetherness.
A: It is about isolation. We processed a dramatic text about how the body works in harmony and how our minds can jeopardise this harmony. It’s an adaptation by Rashif El Kaoui who redrafted the original fable of Greek storyteller, Aesop. There’s a bittersweet sense about it. It’s very beautiful to see the dancers moving and making sculptures according to this text.
T: It’s all about positive vibes within the group, a positive mindset is necessary to create what we are creating, especially when working with so many different artists.