Chicago’s very own, Kate Simko, and her collaborative project with the London Electronic Orchestra are coming to Rockwood Music Hall on June 2nd.
Classical music meets techno. That’s the easiest way to describe the elusive and truly innovative project that came to fruition when Kate Simko joined forces with the London Electronic Orchestra. The result has been an electric hybrid of powerful classical sounds combined with the progressive undertones of techno elements that have never quite been achieved before.
Kate Simko – a lifelong composer, pianist, producer, and DJ – has gained recognition on a myriad of platforms, all of which have praised her ambitious nature and fearlessness to think outside the box. You can listen to her speak about the entire trajectory of her career and how she needed up at the prestigious Royal Music College in London in her session with Thump’s Rave Curious podcast:
It goes without saying that female techno producers are few and far in between. Women like Simko are recalibrating the male dominated sphere by coming up with entirely new ways to make people fall in love with techno. Not only is she incredible at what she does – do yourself a favor and check out ‘Your Love’ on No. 9 Music – but she’s done a great job in proving that art builds upon art. She’s a certified film score producer, an esteemed pianist, a composer, and has DJ’d with the likes of Philip Glass and Jamie Jones.
On June 2nd, Simko and the LEO will be performing the project with a live orchestral set-up comprised of a hard, violin, and cello. The intimate setting will provide for mind-blowing acoustics and a great opportunity to see true, booming talent first hand. This will be the first time that they’ve performed together in the city since their successful concert at (le) poisson rouge last summer. In anticipation to the gig, we got the opportunity to talk to Kate about her background and experiences in working with LEO. It’s always a privilege to climb inside the mind of a genius. Simko’ show at Rockwood is not one to miss – tickets can be purchased here.
Scroll down to read our interview with Kate!
TK: Please tell us a little bit about how your passion for house and techno production came to be. When did you start? When did you actually begin to pursue it as your concrete career?
KS: Hi guys, thanks for the interview! My desire to produce music was pretty instant when I saw Logic Audio for the first time. I was an 18-year-old raver studying classical piano at the time, and this was the first time I saw an entry point into making my own music. I met a couple producers in Miami (where I was based) who were on Warp Records, and they inspired me to push myself from classical performance into production.
TK: When and why did you decide to learn classical composition?
KS: I started piano lessons at the age of five, and learned music theory alongside it from that time. During undergrad focused mainly on electronic compositions, not classical, after I switched out of classical piano. It wasn’t until I moved to London in 2012 to get a Masters in Composition for Screen that I finally learned how write for the full orchestra.
TK: How did you form London Electronic Orchestra and what is it like working with the ensemble?
KS: I formed London Electronic Orchestra while at the Royal College of Music. At the time I was experimenting combining orchestral instruments into my productions. The college booked me to create a set of original music at The National Gallery, and that technically was the first LEO set, in Spring 2013. After that, we had our first offer to play at The Forge in Camden in Fall 2013, and there were about fifteen people at the show. In March 2014 I put on a big concert at the Britten Theatre in London with a 36-piece orchestra, and that was the first time I used the name London Electronic Orchestra. At the time I didn’t know if I’d be granted a Visa to stay in the UK, so I thought it would be a finale to my time in London working with these amazing musicians. From there we were signed to management, and I’m so happy the project has expanding into the real world!
TK: Do you prefer collaborative projects such as LEO and working with Jamie Jones or working solo?
KS: Honestly, I enjoy both equally. Jumping between collaborations, film scores, DJing, and production keeps it fresh, and all of the different music projects fuel creativity back to each other.
TK: Can you give us some names of producers that you think have been doing something different in the scene? Anyone you’ve really been digging lately?
KS: Four Tet, Jamie XX, Willow, Ben UFO, Joy Orbison – these are all producers that inspire me.
TK: Can you speak a little bit about the differences between being a woman in the techno scene and being a woman in the classical music scene? Are there any differences?
That’s a good question. I have a strong passion for supporting other women in music, but I also try to get on with my music and not focus on being a woman. I find that in both scenes if you keep your head down and create good work then people give you space to do your thing. It’s definitely more of a challenge to have the confidence to persevere when you feel like there are doubters around you. So my best advice to women striving towards anything is to just stay focused and be strong!