In the few years I've been listening to K+Lab, I just plainly assumed that he was an alien – an intergalatic traveller with the funky secrets of the universe, merely stopping by Earth to enrich the funkless lives of our planets inhabitants.. His brand of sonic electronic goodness is impossibly heavy, thoroughly disorienting and frankly sounds like it came from another bloody dimension. But no, he's just a normal, albeit super-funky, dude from New Zealand. His performances are impossibly heavy forays into deep space funk, as he's up on the stage, funkifying unsuspecting crowds with his producer/DJ rig and the keytar that's become something of a signature.
“People really get excited when they see the keytar,” notes K+Lab. It was the same excitement that immediately gripped him when he first discovered this powerful part of his arsenal. “I was just walking down the street one day and I saw the keytar in a shop window. I walked past it then turned around and walked back and thought, 'Well, that's gotta be mine, now.' It chose me.” It was as simple as that. A warrior found his weapon and the rest, as they say, is history.
With a growing profile and ever-increasing notoriety, K+Lab's making a bigger and bigger dent whenever he releases new tunes these days. Last year saw the release of his second full-length album, The Worldly. In a electronic landscape increasingly filled with singles and mixes, an album was a breath of fresh air. “It feels like a better way to work than just putting out the odd tune here or there. There are some songs on there I'd never put as singles because they'd be weird, but they fit in the context of an album.”
Despite that incredible piece of work K+Lab dropped, it's been “Clap Ya Hands Now” his single with BC legend Stickybuds, that's been making crazy waves lately. The dancefloor rocker has been battering the competition on the BeatPort charts. “It's really a really cool feeling. I've had songs get to #1 on charts before. They usually just stay there a few days but “Clap Ya Hands” is still up there. I think it's been something like eight or nine weeks now. It's really cool,” says K+Lab of his collaborative triumph. “People really respond to it during the live shows. It took a long time to get that done. We did it over email back and forth. We must have sent a thousand emails. I think by the end there was over 80 tracks...all the horns, guitars, drums, vocals and stuff.”
K+Lab's ultra heavy spacefunk is completely unique, unlike anything you're going to hear anywhere else. His unique approach to recording and performing have made him a staple at festivals all around North America, including multiple visits to the legendary Shamabhala Music Festival (Where's played both the AMPhitheatre and Fractal Forest) and upcoming debuts at Vancouver Island's Tall Tree Festival and the (in)famous Oregon Eclipse Festival. It's a big summer of rocking the ears of fans ahead, but there's one festival that hold's a special place in K+Lab's heart. “I'm really excited to get back to Motion Notion. It was the first festival I played in Canada, four years ago, and I haven't been able to get back there since. I'm really excited to be able to go back.”
On the day of our chat, K+Lab is speaking to me from Melbourne at the end of his successful Yum-Yum Tour, which saw the reigning Intergalactic Funk Champion traverse New Zealand, Australia and Canada. “That was a really big tour. I was on the road for a long time,” laughs the good homie. It was one of the most expansive tours of his career filled with highlights with crowds large and small. “A tour highlight was definitely the Town Festival in Australia. There's a story going on and everyone has a character. There was a 'rebellion' at the end of my set. They got the head of the evil mining company that was trying to take over the Town on stage to throw tomatoes at her.” And then there's the Canadian West Coast, where K+Lab has found a second (Or third home, if you count Outer Space). “Vancouver was awesome. It was just a club show but it had a total festival vibe. Everyone was dressed up. The West Coast just seems to really get the funk.”