Kinky - EMusician

Kinky

Mexican electronic rockers return with an assist from Money Mark and lots of vintage gear
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During the Course of eight years and four albums, Kinky has pursued a style that, while not entirely folkloric, is a combination of native instruments (mariachi trumpet, accordion, Latin percussion) and synths tempered with electronic treatments. So listening to the broad robot-funk brushstrokes of the group's latest album, Barracuda (2009, Kin-Kon/Nettwerk), comes as a surprise: out with the old folk, in with the new techno toughness.

“We got into a different process of composing songs, doing sessions like a normal band with guitar, drums and bass,” Kinky keyboardist/programmer Ulises Lozano explains from Kinky Love Shack studio in the Hollywood Hills. “We were trying to have more fun instead of only working with computers and programming. We started with the songwriting, then incorporated the electronic beats and the Kinky Latin rhythms.”

Barracuda is the sound of five worldly musicians shaking the small-town Monterrey, Mexico, dust off their feet. Kinky has toured incessantly since its 2002 debut, Kinky (Nettwerk). The group''s live shows were always more of a funk-rock fest than a trance-happy experience—but Barracuda forgoes the trumpet and accordion mood entirely, with Kinky''s Gilberto Cerezo (vocals), Carlos Chairez (guitar), Omar Gongora (drums), Cesar Pliego (bass) and Lozano kicking their new music practically old-style all the way.

If Kinky's method of realizing an arrangement or performance turned into an interband argument, co-producer Money Mark brought everyone into proper alignment (no extra fee for band therapy). “Money Mark's energy blended with our personalities and gave us a very effective way of reaching the point we wanted,” Lozano says. “In the past, we might have struggled to understand each other, but he smoothed all that. Suddenly, someone with a bigger vision came in and settled it.”

Barracuda''smessage is a clear 4/4 groove to the gut. The sounds are electronic, but the feel is new-wave, rock, disco and mutant funk—like Edgar Winter''s classic “Frankenstein” transported to 2009 via Moog synths, oozing Fender bass and Dave Smith Instruments LinnDrum-enabled beats. Opener “Hasta Quemarnos” seethes with mirror balls and flagrant funk; “Papel Volando” rides the disco fader complete with brittle handclaps and chicken-scratch guitars; “Those Girls” pile drives a repetitive synth and vocal hook with desultory rap; and “TachiMariPedonCocongo” achieves total Kinky release through slashing hi-hat and riff-heavy guitar. Kinky recorded live at the Love Shack and then added electronic effects, but when necessary, Money Mark changed their tunes.

“Money Mark came with all vintage drum machines, using them to alter his vocal mic,” Lozano says. “Our studio has a wood floor, and the basement is hollow, so when you kick the floor, you can hear a big reverb sound. Money Mark was dancing during the recording of ‘Masacre Sonica,'' and he liked the way the floor sounded. So we recorded it—put the mic in the basement, aimed right at the floor. It produced a very big kick-drum sound. It sounds like a stadium clapping.”

Barracuda's final and perhaps most adventurous track, “Mis Pasos, Tus Huellas,” swoops with ambient Mexicali intent via synth trumpets, a flowing Brazilian samba groove and layers of hypnotic synthesizers. Again, Money Mark joined in the act. “He recorded the LinnDrum there,” as Lozano describes it, “playing the pads live, playing them like a loop. And he miked the pads of the LinnDrum; it has a woody sound when you punch the pads. So you have the impact of the finger hitting the pads against the electronic sound the machine is producing. The two sounds synched together sounded really cool.”

Over Money Mark's beat, Kinky added “kitchen stuff” (such as spoons), floors, Fender bass through a Sherman Filterbank, Kurzweil K2000 trumpet, live drums and a Casio CZ-101 for its rhythm-box capabilities. “The Casio has a very warm, fat analog sound,” Lozano says. “You can tweak the envelope in the Casio synth, so for a piano sound, you can convert to a pad sound. Because you can change the envelope, the attack and the decay, it gives you a warmer sound.”

Kinky has extracted folk sounds from its native country and abandoned them for the brighter horizons of the global rock and funk marketplace—but will the band continue on this path for future releases?

“We enjoy the challenge of every album; it''s something that we look forward to,” Lozano says. “In a sense, we were already working on our next album when we delivered this one. The next one will be more aggressive and faster, with more Latin influences, as well, and with more accordions and trumpets and ska rhythms with techno and Brazilian.”

Obviously, Kinky has it covered.

KINKY LOVE SHACK GEAR LIST
Computers, DAW/recording software, consoles
Apple Dual 2.5 GHz Power Mac G5
Digidesign Pro Tools|HD 7.1 (recorded at 96 kHz sampling rate)

Synths, modules, software, plug-ins
ARP Omni Mk 1, Axxe
Casio CZ-101
Korg MS-20
Kurzweil K2000
Moog Micromoog, Minimoog, Opus-3, Moogerfooger MF-105 MuRF, Polymoog, Satellite
Novation K-Station
Roland Juno-6, SH-101, System 100, TB-303, VP-330 Vocoder Plus Sequential Circuits Pro One
Univox Mini-Korg
Yamaha CS-01, DX7, YC30

Software and plug-ins
Ableton Live 5
FXpansion BFD drum module
Spectrasonics Stylus RMX

Instruments
Fender Precision Bass
Hohner Pianet T
Univox 'Lectra bass
Wurlitzer electric piano

Mics, mic preamps, EQs, compressors, effects
Blue B6 Bottle Cap
Langevin CR-3A
Shure 520DX Green Bullet, SM57
Avalon Vt-737sp
Teletronix LA-2A
Boss Crybaby
Joemeek VC5 EQ
Ibanez VE400
Roland RE-301
Sherman FilterBank

Drum machines, turntables
Akai MPC60
Korg Kaoss Pad
Mattel Synsonic Drums
Oberheim DX
Roland TR-808, TR-909 Rhythm Composer, SP-808 GrooveSampler
Univox MR-12 Microrhythmer, SR-120
Technics SL-1200 MK2

Monitors
Alesis M1 Active
M-Audio BX5a