Interview: Alec Coiro
When we last spoke with Keith Kenniff, the musician behind Helios, our focus was mainly on his work as Goldmund, which is the name of a project dedicated to his work on the piano. We’re catching up on him know to talk about his latest work as Helios. Although, many of you may also know Kenniff’s work with his wife Hollie Kenniff as Mint Julep. On the Helios album Veriditas, the focus is on the creation of atmospheric electronic compositions, which are meticulously arranged and better hear than described, which is why we’re pleased to be premiering the lush and meditative track, “Even Today.” Take a listen and read on for the interview.
When you set out to create “Veriditas,“ was there anything you were wanted to do new or differently than on previous albums?
I don’t feel like it’s productive to really set out to do one thing or another, but over time I did feel like it was developing in a certain direction which was more ambient/textural. It felt like a nice aesthetic to be in and explore. I’ve done several tracks like that on each album before, and a short EP, but this is more of a long-term exploration.
It’s certainly worth noting that you also create music as Goldmund and Mint Julep. How do manage multiple projects like that? Are you able to work on them concurrently?
It may seem overwhelming on paper, but I think it’s actually easier to multi-task like that. I work on all of those projects (and film scoring stuff) at the same time and they all feed into each other, so when one wanes the other gets picked up and I feel like it’s a good way to keep from staying stagnant.
Watching the beautiful slow motion video for “Seeming,” I wondered if you intended to take listeners outside of time with your music in a way that’s similar to the slow motion technique we see in the video?
Yeah, I guess in a way a lot of these songs on the album are either rubato or with an elastic/vague sense of time. The structure of that song is fairly simple and I wanted the video to reflect that – there’s not a lot of movement musically until it moves up in the second half so I wanted to keep the visuals in line and have them somewhat static but moving slowly and then signify some sort of a textural change in the middle that led back to the return at the end.
I don't feel like I need or want the pressure of creating an album on a specific timeline, rushing music typically involves some sacrifice, and although I don't aim for perfection at all I do want the ideas to feel "complete."
What can you tell us about the process of creating such a tightly unified album? As you composed the individual tracks, how conscious were you of how they would mesh together to form the album as a whole?
I actually composed the tracks without an album in mind and then all of the sudden they all seemed to come together, then I took a few weeks to revise and create some additional coherence, but that’s the way it usually goes. I don’t feel like I need or want the pressure of creating an album on a specific timeline, rushing music typically involves some sacrifice, and although I don’t aim for perfection at all I do want the ideas to feel “complete”.
If I understand correctly, this is your first Helios album without percussion? What was behind the choice not to use percussion?
I did an EP called “Moiety” in 2012 that was percussion-less, and all of my Goldmund material is percussion-less so it’s not really a huge leap. I don’t feel like it’s a large shift, just a slight difference.