In the never ending quest to unearth bands that hang out mainly off grid in the far corner of the left field, I recently found myself wondering (that’s not a typo – it was wonderful) around Berlin chasing Bowie’s ghost with Juliette from Berlin ‘weird post-punk’ outfit Kamoos. If you want to know more about Bowie’s Berlin you’ll need to book yourself on her tour. If you want to know the best bars to hang out in, you’ll have to ask her yourself. If you want to know more about her band, read on…
BM: So, who are you, where you all from ?
K: We are Kamoos! Juliette (vocals, guitar, keys), Vivi (guitar, vocals), Felix (drums and percussion). We are a Berlin band, but I (Juliette) hail from London town.
BM: When an where did Kamoos first come together?
K: Me (Juliette) and Vivi met around 4 years ago, here in Berlin. I was with my friend Maggie (from the Maggie’s Marshmallows) in line for what used to be Bassy Club when Maggie pointed Vivi out as “the singer from the Mokkers”. Me and V got to chatting and Vivi ended up putting on a show for Juliette & the Sin (my old London band). Since then we’ve been pretty inseparable: we call ourselves the ‘married couple’. Felix we met a little later, through our music circle. He’s the daddy of the rehearsal space we use and a bang-on drummer so we asked him to join and now we’re a happy family.
BM: “Kamoos”. It’s definitely different. What’s the story behind the name?
K: Our name comes from when Juliette was younger and she went through her existential literature phase. One of the books that was important to her was The Fall by Albert Camus. She though “great name! I’ll call my band that” (she was around 16 at the time). Unfortunately, the name was, of course, taken by probably one of the best bands in the world. So instead, she turned Camus into Kamoos by adding a bit of moo (always good to add a bit of moo….) and voila! now it means whatever you want it to mean. As long you you are Kamoosed!
BM: Most bands hate been asked this question, but you seem quite clear on describing how you sound…
K: Dissonant riffs, strong vocals, darrrrk. There’s not much out there to compare us to as we’ve got our own sound, but imagine post-punk vibes like Malaria, Olimpia Splendid and The Fall with the depth, sometimes surfy-vibes and strong vocals of Shocking Blue. We are weird post-punk!
BM: You’ve been in a few bands…
K: Yes: as I mentioned, I was in Juliette and the Sin, Vivi was in the Mokkers and plays currently in Voodoo Beach, and Felix plays for Imaginary French. With Kamoos, we make something a little different, bringing a little from each of our projects and warping it into a totally new, different, unique shape: Kamoos.
BM: So when did Kamoos come about?
K: Kamoos began just over a year ago with a different setup. It was Juliette and Vivi, and then Tanno (Jolly Goods) on bass and Tom (Hekla) on drums. Felix joined around half a year ago. The first rehearsal as Kamoos was interesting: loud and everything played and learnt at double-speed. We had a gig set-up pretty early so we didn’t have much time to learn the songs.
BM: Describing yourselves as ‘weird post-punk’, is that the kind of stuff that inspires you?
K: The bands that have influenced us most are, Country Teasers: because Ben Wallers is totally his own person, his riffs are a little messed and uncomfortable, his lyrics are warped, and he just doesn’t give too much of a fuck. Malaria: because simple, strong, catchy tunes with simple strong, catchy women. M.I.A and Peaches: because they’re punk without playing Punk music, they don’t abide by the classic ‘anti-male’ image and their music is sometimes really good (not always….)
BM: Do you all share similar tastes?
K: Me and Vivi bonded over Country Teasers. It was a moment when I gave her a Country Teasers record because that’s kind of my marker for how far a music relationship with someone can go. And she loved it. Thank god. We also used to hang out in the same pub in London – back when I lived there and she was staying for a while – called the Queens Head. The Fat White Family (who I used to be friendly with and played a few shows with) used to play there every week and turns out we were both at the same gigs. With Felix it was more just a natural bond over how we play together: He really understands the music and song-writing process and comes up with some pretty clever ways to tweak a song. It just works.
BM: You seem surrounded by music. Was it the same when you were a child?
K: Not realllllyyyyy. As in no one else played an instrument or made music really. Me and my dad used to sing together in the car but that was about it. But yeah, my mum was a Doors lover and my dad a big Beatles fan so I grew up with a lot of that. And classical music. Which I never got into…
BM: The live scene in Berlin needs no introduction, but what about studio time?
K: Right now we’re definitely a live band. But I think getting in the studio more and more will develop our music so I think that’s about to become important..
BM: Do you have any releases planned?
K: X-Ray Me. A single off our debut EP about to come out at the end of this year. X-Ray Me was the first official Kamoos song and it still stands as our core track. It’s uncomfortably dissonant, abstractly sexy and encourages mind-trippage.
BM: Are you recording it here in Berlin?
K: Yes, in Kreuzberg here in Berlin but we’re re-recording it now in our friends’ studio as the other place didn’t get our sound. We’re due in the studio at the end of July.
BM: Is there a “Kamoos formula” to writing the tracks?
K: It started with mostly me writing the material and bringing it in to the band, but now we’re all going into the studio and writing together. The tracks now tend to be born from spontaneous jams that we find a hook in and work that out into a tune.
BM: You’ve got the Kamoos panther – which I think is pretty cool – how important is artwork/imagery to the band?
K: I would say semi-important: important that it’s not a false image of some other person’s idea of what we should use but rather something that we feel and make ourselves, but also it isn’t as important as the music (by far). We seem to choose it pretty spontaneously. If something catches one of our eye, we show it to the others and if it sticks, it sticks. We try not to overthink things.
BM: Tell me about the first Kamoos gig.
K: Kamoos’ first gig was at Spud Bencer: a basement venue under a burger joint in Berlin. We played with Aemong and had Taishi (Fat Whites) DJing for us. Was a messy night – musically and generally – and was packed. A lot of fun but not our best performance!
BM: What has been your favourite gig to date?
K: Ooo tough one. We went on tour beginning of this year and a few of those shows were great. I enjoyed our gigs in Halle and Munich because the crowd were messing around and just generally having a good time. They were left-wing venues setup by young people and so felt more honest than a lot of other gigs.
BM: What about the worst?
K: Uhh don’t know. Maybe the one we played in Manheim? Just cold and a bit dark. All the bar tenders and sound engineer called in sick so we were alone with the venue owner doing everything.
BM: What can people expect from seeing Kamoosh live?
K: Loud, dark, engaging, dissonant and usually sparks the odd nutter in the crowd to come up and do something strange like punch my guitar or steal my mic or try to have long conversations with Vivi whilst she’s playing…
BM: Which of your tracks do like playing live the most? And why?
K: Grenfell, X-Ray Me and Ice Cream. They get the crowd going. We have a new one that we’re going to unleash soon which is going to be a banger live! Come to our next show and find out what is it…
BM: Where? When?
K: Internet Explorer on July 26th with our mates, Human Music, from the UK who are coming up especially.
August 10th-11th at Mellow Fest.
Rock am Löschteich on August 25th.
All in Berlin.
BM: Other than the gigs you mention – what other things can we expect to see Kamoos getting up to this year?
K: We have more gigs and festivals coming up, recording our debut EP (with the single X-Ray Me on it), and we’re shooting a music video for X-Ray Me. We’re also going to be writing more material and would like to play some UK shows 😉
BM: Thanks for your time. Do you have one last word for everyone?
K: Get Kamoosed!
You can discover more about Kamoos and keep up with their goings on by clicking the following linky things…
Better still, if you want them to come and play for you you can contact them here – firstname.lastname@example.org