Interview | Professor Kliq

Professor Kliq is a modest, upcoming electronic musician. Fuse that trait with where he is based and you have a unique Chicago civilian. After releasing his debut, Curriculum Vitae, which may be another humble statement about him, he seems to remain in a state of laxness and comfort, despite his apparent feeling of obtaining no exceptional progress yet.

Mainly discussing the musical life and strife of the Chicago scene, Professor Kliq hasn’t been like any other small-level artist from that district this year. In fact, his viewpoints were more ambivalent, lost, though sternly honest. “I’ve only played a handful of shows here in Chicago and none of them have really been relevant. The only success I’ve known with music has been on the internet, mostly,” he told MEG.

An in-house DJ at The Elbo Room, in Chicago, Kliq mentioned it as a welcoming and diverse platform for music in the area. “It’s not the biggest club or the fanciest, but it is definitely welcoming, eclectic, and there’s evidence of this on every table, at every bar stool, and in all the bathrooms. That place has been partied hard for many years. It’s where I played my first show and it’s where I’m currently a DJ in residence.”

So, he tells us that his presence in Chicago is not “relevant” but he happens to be part of a respected venue – in a city that has a population of two million in its metropolitan area. As well, to showcase for his ability to impress and reveal that musical-wow, Professor Kliq currently garners over 750 Twitter followers and nearly 3,000 likes on Facebook, which by Chicago underground standards is pretty successful. By Irish standards, it would make him more internet-popular than the average indie-rock group in the country.

However semi-popular he is online, physical presence in the industry is invaluable – unless you’re Justin Bieber. Hence, being an independent artist creates a multitude of problems, as Chicago is one of the most pop-heavy cities in the music business. Professor Kliq reflected on that thought critically. “From what I’ve found, people don’t pay too much attention to anything that isn’t a big name. That being said, I have some friends in a very successful band called Aktar Aktar – they’re absolutely brilliant. I don’t want to misquote them, but I have heard them mention that their best successes come from playing music festivals and colleges outside of the city. I had recently seen them play a small street festival here in Chicago that went very well, but for the most part it seems like they try to play outside of the city.

“America in general is in a very strange time for music which is why I have more of an affinity for the international setting. Don’t get me wrong – Chicago is a fantastic place to live and I’m extremely happy here, but the music scene generally seems to steer more towards punk, metal and off-ish acoustic acts. If you’re a DJ, the general consensus is that you should (not ought to) play top 40 dance hits. Knowing a few DJs, I know that this isn’t entirely the case from their end, but the crowd’s expectations are usually in that realm.”

And though he claims to love his city, he affirms that he acquired his inspirations from the internet and not Chicago music, contrary to a lot of musicians based there. Nonetheless, it’s not absurd. In the Irish electronic scene, there has yet to be an indigenous sound, and yet to veer away from carbon-copying influences from Berlin, Detroit, Chicago and Bristol. There is a stronger positive in this – musical multiculturism and cross-fertilisation – where the internet can provide so many influences that your everyday laptop musician has endless opportunities to craft and design a fresh sound. Something like this in the pre-broadband days was scarce and rare. This then lead onto how he constructs music himself. The BA graduate in Music Composition said, “I’m always trying out new software and new techniques. I generally don’t sit still for very long on a single application, and the experimentation with how these programs can work together will usually spit out some kind of by-product. This is usually the beginning of a full piece of music. Once I get into it head-on, I’ll settle down into a single mode of working and flesh it out, experiment some more, smooth it over, rinse and repeat. Within a few weeks or even a few months, I’ll have a finished piece.
“I don’t know that I see the difference between inspiration and just being alive. I feel like everything I’m doing is sculpting the music that I make. A long day at work, a bad dream, a great day with friends, a bad thunderstorm, headaches, colds, sleepless nights, great meals, even times when I’m working on music and I get frustrated with something, that within itself is inspiration. It’s all one thing, really.”

As we wrapped up the interview, Professor Kliq shared a funny, yet unfortunate story of growing up in Chicago. “Both are in one story, actually. Back in 2009, I was riding my bike through the loop downtown to get to school for a meeting I had with a professor… I was going under an overpass and a taxi cab had hit me from behind. My bike hit the ground before I did. The car had pushed me up several feet and I hit the concrete with my left shoulder taking the brunt of the fall (even to this day, if I lift my arm straight up I can feel a crunch). Laying on the ground, writhing in pain of course, a man comes running up to me and hands me a business card and says ‘give me a call, man – we’ll get some money out of this guy!’ He walked away and started yelling racial slurs at the cab driver. I couldn’t believe any of it.”

Fintan YT Walsh

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