Auckland musician Reuben Winter and his friend Kieran Tahir started electronic music blog Kerosene Comic Book in 2009, initially to serve as a platform for Winter's production (as Totems) and his friends. Creating narcotic beatscapes on FL Studio and DJing early 2000s rap off YouTube and iPods at house parties, the crew were about good times and better music. The blog is no longer active but KCB continues to grow as a banner for a collective of Reuben, Kieran, and their friends to push their music and visual/video art.
Following the digital release of their first compilation The 420 Tape in 2013, it became apparent that there was depth to KCB's rag-tag band of K-Road delinquents and associated mates around New Zealand. Several mixtapes and solo projects later, their imaginative and irreverent re-framings of beats, trap, house, jungle, happy hardcore and ambient music have positioned them as one of the most vital young arts collectives in the country.
Unified by a shared internet oriented sense of humor as well as a passion for contemporary rap/R&B and the ideals associated with 90s rave/club culture, the KCB parties have become some of the most chaotically fun events happening within the local D.I.Y underground.
We chat briefly with Totems to get some Cliff Notes on some of the KCB crew.
Noisey: How did KCB transform from a blog/idea into a collective?
Totems: We had the idea of making it a collective when we realised that we knew a lot of really talented artists who could make art to accompany the music. Whether it be a video or an album cover, we could do pretty much everything ourselves. It really gained momentum as each person joined. I think that made us go, "Oh shit this is really a thing now!"
How does KCB function?
We discuss pretty much everything in a Facebook group but me and Skymning probably take the most charge with organising things like gigs and releases. But everyone does as much as they can. There's a few other people who's music we have released/had play at our shows like Sexx Haus, Jules and Vince, Mongo Skato, Given Names, Absent Parents etc. These people are still associated with KCB in their own ways but aren't as heavily involved as the core crew Basically there's a huge amount of great music in New Zealand and I'm just stoked to be associated with so many people that I really respect.
Name: Race Banyon
EP: Whatever Dreams Are Made Of
Info: Like a young David Byrne with a laptop and an OVO sweater, Race Banyon intuitively knows how to make modern rap/R&B, classic house, juke and footwork fit together. Draping spiritual/gospel style synth melodies over the top of acapellas from Drake, Nicki Minaj, 2Chainz and Kanye West, he's got the most stadium-ready live electronic music set in the country.
Best track: "Only Sixteen"
Interesting fact: Ryan Hemsworth is a huge fan and Justin Bieber follows him on twitter.
Info: KCB's king of 4am balcony music, Skymning makes the moody ambient jams you need after the after-party. Songs for all the introspection that come with misty late night walks home.He's also pretty great at setting the scene early in the night. When not making music, he can be found watching Soulja Boy interviews and scheming on how to collaborate with Mr Crank That.
Best track: 'Been Nothing'
Interesting fact: Skymning means "dusk" in Swedish.
Name: Career Girls
EP: Fuck The Paparazzi (a split album with Sexxx Haus)
Info: Southern trap, classic jungle, happy hardcore, footwork and beats tied together with sleek production, clever pop culture references and samples. Memories of the 90s represented as late-night party music for today. Career Girls' photoshop game is tight as well. He makes smart yet LOLworthy collages which provide a pitch perfect representation of what he does sonically.
Best Track: "Jiggy Widit"
Interesting facts: A qualified sound engineer, Career Girls lives in Auckland but grew up in a small town.
Info: He mixes free noise techniques with crunk rhythms (a la classic Lil Jon), drop the bass, and sprinkle screwed rap snippets and horror soundtrack stabs through his songs. Lately he's been exploring old school jungle and Chicago footwork.
Best Track: "T.I x UGK x Eyeliner - 'Front Back' "(Totems remix)
Interesting facts: Totems used to play guitar in a punk band with Don McGlashan's daughter Pearl. He's also opened up for Lil B and once appeared in a Weetbix TV advert.