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Tom Kha Music Celebrates 3 Years of Excellence + GIVEAWAY! (Interview)

We Talked to Tom Kha About Their Upcoming Show, Influences, and History

If you don’t already know Tom Kha Music, they are some of the principal purveyors of the PNW electronic music scene. They are also known for their sincere appreciation of quality music and experiences. Countless shows they’ve participated in featured both international and local talents, simmered together in an intricately delicious recipe. Their awaited upcoming three year anniversary extravaganza is just this: another slow-cooked, carefully crafted show, sure to impress any electronic music fan.

Sam Binga and Chimpo, two legendary bass music savants headline their event. If you like dark moods, driving rhythm, intense atmospheric swells, and bass, you’re in for a memorably wild ride. And if future beats, footwork, grime, and breaks aren’t your thing, the local house music maestros, Lost Boys (Sean Majors, Gene Lee, and Eric Allen), will be keeping the crowd satisfied for the whole event, up in the fabulous Timbre Room. You’ll definitely want to drift around and check what’s playing.

Chip Downing, an excellent graphic designer and friend of Tom Kha, made this clip to prepare us for the imminent event. The spaceships, music, and overall aesthetic, accurately and excellently fit the TK mood.

It had been awhile since we last talked to Tom Kha. We were recently fortunate to catch up with the head DJ’ing two of the TK crew. We got acquainted with their stories, who they are, influences, and most importantly, got valuable info regarding their sure-to-be amazing and highly anticipated event. Tom Kha is all about family, love, and music, things that we here at DMNW treasure dearly. We thank Sasha and Peter for taking their time to answer these questions and we know their answers will be interesting to a fan or anybody with a toe in the door of the electronic music scene.

Tom Kha is the assimilation of years of collaborative efforts by Sasha Dorit-Kendall, Peter Merritt—(Thalo and Shtickykeys, respectively), as well as their art director/”all around badwoman” Molly Brooks as Sasha calls her. They also have a tight-knit crew of DJs to call on for local support for their events.

Peter: “Molly is [also] generally heavily involved in the booking and logistical processes of all of our shows. Our crew of resident DJ’s include: Pressha, Kloak, Nofux Gibbons, and Kozmo.”

We’ve seen TK grow a lot over the last three years. Tom Kha ended their bi-weekly Thursday event at Monkey Loft at the end of 2015. This forthcoming event means a lot to them and represents a number of milestones for TK.

Peter and Sasha explained to us that TK has grown a lot, especially in the last year. They went from being unknown by some in the scene to being widely accepted and supported by the community. After the end of their Monkey Loft event, TK took a new direction, focusing on aligning their shows with international touring artists. They also expanded the genres and styles of music at their shows, and took some new risks, striving to further achieve their vision.

Sasha: “In terms of [this event], this is a very fitting lineup to represent what we have been working towards with our shows all along. [W]e’ve seen the hip hop-electronic music threads intertwine in our own lives, and looking outward we see it happening on a much larger platform.  So I guess you could say the thing that guides our ‘Tom Kha Sense’ if you will– is an ear for music that cross pollinates genres.

There hasn’t been a better case of this hybridized sense of music than with musicians like Sam Binga and Chimpo. While some unlucky few aren’t familiar with Binga or Chimpo, they are making serious waves around the world in electronic music. The two have collaborated numerous times and have some of their tracks released alongside other principle players in the scene like Ivy Lab, on the infamous Critical Music (UK) imprint.

How did you manage to get these two UK bass music legends under the same roof in the US?

Sasha: “Binga and I have been in contact since the last time we booked him in Seattle with Onset, usually to rant incredulously about the state of politics and then rant about ranting about politics. He mentioned that he was thinking about making a US trip, and he must have been a bit short on sleep or something because he agreed to line the trip up with our anniversary. And of course once we realized that Chimpo would be on the same continent in the same timeframe, we knew it had to go down.”

TK relayed to us that Binga is one of their favorite producers. They emphasized his “incredible attention to detail” and the powerful way in which his music draws upon a variety of influences. His music is a groundbreaking synthesis of electronic music, with elements from the UK, US, and the rest of the musically-inclined world.

As excited as TK is to welcome Sam Binga back to Seattle, they’re equally thrilled to be hosting Chimpo’s Seattle first appearance. This show is part of his first US tour, and one of only two shows that the two of them are doing together in North America.

Peter: “We’ve been rinsing Chimpo’s tunes for years, and the guy is an absolute madman, as an MC, producer, and DJ. His versatility at all tempos, both musically and lyrically, really shines both in his solo releases, his collabs with people like Binga, and especially in his collaborative project LEVELZ, which has really drawn the international grime/hip-hop spotlight on their home town of Manchester. Grime, dub, footwork, halftime DnB, jungle, trap… Chimpo does it all. This is a serious bucketlist booking for us.”

For those of us who aren’t familiar with Kremwerk/The Timbre Room, what’s the venue like? What kind of awesome sound system can we expect?

Sasha: “It. Looks. Really. Good. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say this but by the time of the anniversary both Kremwerk AND Timbre Room will both have brand new upgraded sound systems. The turbo sound rig they installed downstairs had its debut at our show with Goth-Trad and it absolutely KNOCKS. Kremwerk is downstairs—super basement dark club vibes, great sound, then upstairs and past a lovely outdoor patio (complete with bar!) is the Timbre Room (also complete with bar!) which will be featuring a newly installed KV2 sound rig and 3 newly installed Lost Boys who we know better than to leave unsupervised so you best believe we will be bouncing between the rooms all night.”

Behind Their Vision: Who Is Tom Kha Music?

Tom Kha is a notable entity in the music scene, but little is known to the music community about the history behind their success. With stages of killer artists like Goth-Trad, Machinedrum, and Ivy Lab under their belts, it’s clear why we wanted to get some information and inspiration from them. How did these figures form Tom Kha and get to where they are now?

How did your team start working together? 

Peter: “Sasha, Molly, and I met at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, and started getting involved in DJing and throwing parties down there. We started working with a festival/promotion company in Olympia called Mas Sol Collective, and after some time, decided it was time for us to move up to Seattle and start our own project.”

Sasha first met Molly in a class they had together at Evergreen. When they recognized each other’s Symbiosis bracelets, they immediately started talking about Rustie. The first flyer she made for TK was for a party their friend Rolando threw with G Jones & Gladkill, and Sasha on support at the Royal, down in Olympia. The time and effort TK spent in Olympia got them prepared for their eventual migration up to Seattle. Shortly after arriving, they started their multi-genre bi-weekly music night, Spectrum, at the Monkey Loft.

Sasha: “At that point the three of us kicked it into high gear. Meanwhile Molly was (and stays) grinding out them pixels, her weird exoplanet, alternate universe art aesthetic intertwines really well with our brand of left-field bookings.”

Since it’s inception, Tom Kha has been consistently advancing in the electronic music community. Last summer Tom Kha Music further stepped up their game and played What the Festival in style at the visually astounding Groove Qube. It was the first year the festival featured the stage and it was an one-of-a-kind thing experience.

It was also the first year Tom Kha played the festival, so we asked them about their time opening up the Qube!

Tom Kha throws down at The Groove Qube, photo cred: Jason Woo (2016)

What was playing at What the Festival like? What are some other events that you’ve played or hosted recently?

Peter: Playing [there] last year was an incredible experience. Playing the music we love to a crowd of easily a thousand people in a big brightly glowing cube in the middle of the woods… It doesn’t get much better than that, in my opinion.

Sasha: “The Groove Qube was absolutely the coolest stage at the event, and since we started the stage off for the night we got to watch it go from empty to PACKED within our first few tracks.”

As for events TK played recently- they recently played a 90-minute set opening for Shades and Ivy Lab at Q. They proudly played their 3rd show supporting Machinedrum and opened for French producer Moresounds in San Francisco. They also played an extended grime set opening for Plastician.

Sasha: “In terms of events we’ve put on recently, we’ve had quite a run: We just had Deep Medi dubplate champion Goth-Trad out from Japan last month.

Peter: “He [Goth-Trad] played an absolutely incredible 2+ hour all-vinyl set, packed full of truly raucous dubplates, and we couldn’t have been happier with the result.”

Similar to the headlining two, Goth-Trad is surprisingly unknown to many people who consider themselves electronic music fans. Despite this, he’s been putting out cutting-edge electronic music for over 10 years. His music masterfully fuses elements of countless genres and styles and it’s clear why TK booked yet another artist who “cross pollinates genres”.

What are your guys’ major musical inspirations? Who do you look up to?

Peter: “Right now, we’re very inspired by the UK halftime DnB/beat music scene, so artists like Om Unit, Ivy Lab, Alix Perez, are really important to us currently. We’re also deeply moved by the 140 grime/dubstep scene, and producers like Sir Spyro, Kahn, and Commodo, and MC’s like AJ Tracey and Slick Don are crucial to our DJ sets and general influence pool.”

Obviously they had to omit many names, because we’re sure they could go on all day about this. Not only were we notified of unfamiliar artists; Tom Kha’s DJs were explicit in emphasizing the influence and support of the local community. We were proud and excited to see so many greater Seattle DJs get a shout-out from the Tom Kha crew.

Peter: “We’ve been really lucky to learn a lot from some folks in the Seattle scene that have been pretty successful for a long time, like Rob Noble, Dane Wilson, Gene Lee, the whole Shift Dubstep crew, and especially, Sean Majors and Doug Mcintyre at Q Nightclub, who have been really influential for us and taught us a lot about how to navigate the industry.”

Sasha: “There’s also a lot of people to look up to within the Seattle scene as mentors, role models, friends and inspirations: Sean Majors & Dig-Dug, Dane Wilson, Wesley Holmes, Kadeejah Streets, Allen Huang, Matt Clark, WD4D, CCL, Quadrant & Iris, Kid Hops, Homemade Weapons, Trinitron, Pressha, Jimmy Hoffa, Demo and all the DNB homies keeping the junglist movement alive and well.”

Definitely don’t miss out on also seeing some of these people and artists (and Eric Allen!) performing as Lost Boys at the shindig.

What do you get out of DJ’ing and promoting/hosting events? What’re you in it for?

Peter: “THE MONEY. Just kidding, there is no money. We just have a really deep, burning, truly unhealthy obsession with electronic music, and want to spread that as widely as possible. We love this music and we think everyone else will love it, and probably already does, they just need to be introduced to it in the right context.”

Sasha: “Getting to share the music we love. 100%. Extra bonus: the incredible community of creatives and crazies we get to meet by playing weird sounds over speaker systems.”

“Music brings people together. That’s why it exists. We hope to use our spaces and voices to be allies and to promote a culture of responsibility and respect within the electronic music scene. If we can do that through dark, warped and danceable bass music, I’ll consider the TK mission a success.”

Stay in touch for future events and check out Tom Kha Music on FacebookInstagram, Twitter, and SoundCloud.

Chimpo and Sam Binga have Facebook and SoundCloud pages you should tune to, if you haven’t already. You can also check out details about their upcoming shows in the states if you can’t make it out this friday. You should also listen to and follow Thalo (Sasha) and Shtickykeys (Peter) on their respective SoundCloud pages. They have awesome material on there that’s free to listen to.

As for tickets for the impending show, you can get them here! It’s only $20 for 6 hours of quality, diverse electronic music. Your admission grants you entrance to both the Kremwerk and Timbre Room spectacles.

Tom Kha has also been extremely generous to supply DMNW with a pair of tickets and LP (signed by Binga and Chimpo!) to giveaway. If you’re free on Friday or you know someone who might be interested, there’s no excuse to not enter! It’s also part of the first round of US shows Chimpo has scheduled (we hope there’ll be many more). You won’t want to miss out on the exceptional opportunity to see these artists!

All Inclusive Tom Kha Anniversary Giveaway

We’re sure the event will be a night to remember. We plan to stay current with Tom Kha in the future for info on their latest and greatest schemes.