Kotek Talks Inspirations & Teases Upcoming EP Aurora [Interview + Exclusive]
We connected with local artist Kotek, otherwise known as Michael Mlikotic, to gain insight on the man behind the name and his musical influences, relationship with Gramatik, and how he creatively approaches remix contests. We also have an exclusive breakdown of the meaning behind the tracks on the upcoming EP Aurora, set to release January 27th through Lowtemp Records.
On how his creative process has been influenced:
Kotek’s musical journey began as a young jazz drummer, which followed through into Michael’s years of university. He'd play drums and was a songwriter too in a medley of metal bands during this time.
When asked about his new career under the moniker ‘Kotek’, he recalled that “when I started writing electronic music it was only natural for me to incorporate some of the key sounds I was already so familiar with. So I started incorporating sounds like that classic distorted guitar.”
Some of Kotek’s influence stems from his love for Linkin Park. “They’ve often been criticized for their over-produced sound,” he explains, “but I really like how they incorporate that electronic edge into their music - it inspired me to incorporate a blend of instruments at the studio to create something unique for people, just like they did for me.” Kotek also draws strong inspiration for this EP from Porter Robinson - specifically the Worlds album which is evident through both projects' use of a vocoder to generate lively synths.
The combination of all these elements extends beyond the studio as well - Kotek has big ambitions for his live sets this year, filled with piano solos, guitar riffs and different tuned vocoders. It looks like with all this, Kotek is setting himself up to join the likes of Flume, Porter Robinson, Madeon, and Lido, connoisseurs in the art of original electronic live sets.
On his recent successes:
Kotek has now won two remix contests hosted through online sample company Splice, the first coming last year with his remix of ‘Anima Mundi’ by Gramatik. As part of the grand prize, he earned the opportunity to play at Mysteryland Festival in New York with Gramatik himself playing his remix on the main stage. The connection with Gramatik has definitely paid off for Michael, saying that “a few months after Mysteryland, I emailed Gramatik some of the demos I had been working on, and within 24 hours he replied telling me he wanted to sign them all as an EP!”
His most recent contest-winning remix is to Nervo and Timmy Trumpet’s Anywhere You Go. Announced on January 17th, Kotek will receive an official release through Monstercat for his winning mix, as well as some awesome pieces of production equipment from Roland (VP-03, K-25m & TR-09).
“For this track I played with the trumpet solo provided by Timmy Trumpet in the original song, and saw that he was playing some odd harmony. I ended up switching key part way through the track. Building on this idea, instead of coming down from the new key in the harmony, I decided to do a take on a very Lido influenced climax of stabbing shots for the second drop."
RENDRD has recieved an exclusive preview of the upcoming Aurora. This teaser features vocals from the second track Clutch, woven over a blend of other tracks from the EP. Catch the action below:
Can you explain the thought process behind Aurora? What messages are you addressing through the album?
I didn’t actually intend for all these tracks to be released on an EP together, so I had to go back and find a way to tie them all together to create a cohesive piece of work. This made me go back into the songs to find and create meaning behind each one so I could tell a story.
Track 01 - Alarm
For this song, I featured lyrics from a friend of mine who goes by D-ley. The song started as an ode to my alarm clock, but turned into being woke from a state of the “day-to-day” numbness.
Track 02 - Clutch
My girlfriend, known as Vicarious, actually started this track, so it’s a collaboration with her. Her idea for the track was about letting go so after getting my friend Element to write lyrics for this track, he ended up coming into it with the perspective of how the majority of people blindly follow others in this world, and how in order to get out of your current situation you have to let go and move on to accomplish something new.
Track 03 - Falling
This track’s hook goes like, ‘For all I know for you I’m falling.’ For me it’s falling asleep, and falling in love with the world you create in your sleep.
Track 04 - Music
This song is really self explanatory for me - it’s all about following your passion and finding out what matters to you. For me, that’s music.
So the meaning of the album so far is waking up, letting go, then finding out and following what matters to you?
Yes! The last two really finish that statement though.
Track 05 - Colorless
This song is about the transition from the world you’re in, into the world that is more true to you.”
Track 06 - Aurora
The title track of the album - it’s about the awareness one grasps once they truly understand who they are. It’s about finding your color and being able to show it in the world.”