“Fragmented beats, heading towards uncharted musical territories” – Crack Magazine
Depending on where you land in Kayla Painter’s universe, the outlook could be very different. From one angle, she sculpts subversive rhythm tracks that play on club tropes while crackling with an energy sourced from somewhere far away. Earlier work left listeners enshrouded in her beatless, textural studies. Often she strikes in between these extremes, using micro sampling and musique concrete principles to propel her unique clusters of deftly sculpted sound design.
Having grown up a multi instrumentalist and joining more conventional bands at university, Painter’s personal journey led her deeper into electronic music production and academic reflections on our relationship with what we hear. Now a visiting lecturer at several higher education institutes, her critical analysis of sound is as accomplished as her approach to music. A passionate advocate for the creative potential in field recording, her compositions bristle with self sourced timbres captured in an enduring spirit of experimentation.
This isn’t just art for arts sake though – Painter uses her platform to explore specific themes both personal and external. 2018’s Cannibals At Sea grappled with her mixed Fijian British heritage, juxtaposing Pacific islander beliefs with British working class values in a compelling exploration of her own identity and the wider world around her.
Painter also places emphasis on the visual representation of her work to build on these ideas. Ambitious videos to date include the poised symbolism of Sacrificial Magic, considered choreography of Drones and surrealist fantasy narrative of efa. This visual ethic extends into her live shows, where she regularly collaborates with Jason Baker to add a further dimension to her creative imprint. Her immersive, ever evolving AV performances are a natural consequence of the entire writing process – the visuals figure into the earliest stages of her music.
The summer of 2019 saw her embark on a festival tour that took in events such as The Great Escape, Camp Elsewhere, Bluedot and the inaugural edition of Gilles Peterson’s We Out Here festival. As a past alumni of the Peterson helmed Future Bubblers program, her appearance as a booking in her own right at the latter festival has a fitting sense of completion to it.
Not that Painter’s journey is complete – from her self reliant Bandcamp release mode she’s progressed to releases and remixes for a string of well regarded labels including ‘All the Glimmering’ released on Gilles Peterson’s label Brownswood. However she remains untethered to any one camp, exercising self determination on her artistic journey. What’s most exciting is the open ended potential for what comes next. When you set out your stall as a fiercely individual artist with such a broad skill set, the possibilities are tantalisingly infinite.