Life Under Lockdown #20 – K’Ko and TDK (Mood Taeg)

Mood Taeg are a band that are pretty new to me. To be fair, they are probably pretty new to most people, having just released their debut album, Exophora, on Happy Robots Records in May this year.

I knew one member, TDK, from many years back, and when he asked me if I wanted to hear the record, I thought, why not. For one reason or another (call it lockdown blues, call it laziness) I took a few weeks to get around to listening to it. However once I did play it I was instantly smitten.

Describing their musical style as reflecting ‘their love of German experimental music from the 1970s’, Exophora does exactly what it says on the can (pardon the pun) and much more. Mood Taeg certainly draw on the motoric sound and influences of groups such as Neu, Can and Kraftwerk but create a sound that, while reflecting their influences, has a freshness, warmth and exuberates a free-floating, joyful sound.

Over the past few weeks it has provided a gorgeous sound track to my days and evenings at times when I have wanted to switch off and immerse myself in music. The tracks on Exophora can power along with a propulsive drive but it feels nimble and generous and there is a dreamy, almost ambient feel to some of the songs.

Despite being in the midst of moving into a new apartment and setting up a new studio, the two members of Mood Taeg, K’ko and TDK, took some time out to kindly answer questions about their lives under lockdown. (AJW)

First, how are you and how are you doing?

TDK: We’re great, we (K’ko and TDK) have just moved into a new apartment so it’s been quite hectic getting everything organized but also quite nice to have something positive to focus on during these unique times (certainly in our lifetime).

How has the lockdown affected you personally?

K’ko: Well, outside of the band, we are freelance language teachers (English and German) so we’ve seen our work pretty much dry up since the start of the lockdown but here in Germany it (the lockdown) hasn’t felt as severe compared to what I’ve read about other countries.

As a musician, has it directly affected you and in what ways?

TDK: Well, the band isn’t our source of income so, financially, we haven’t been affected. The main effect has been connected to promoting the new album. We had gigs arranged in Düsseldorf and Berlin (and Adam at Happy Robots was arranging one in London) for the launch of the album but those won’t happen for at least a few months now. However, in some ways, strange as it may sound, the lockdown may have had a silver lining. With more people being at home and the main focus of the promotion of the album being online platforms, it may have given us, as an unknown band, a wider audience. I’ve no stats to back that up though, just a thought.

There have been a lot of artists and performers finding ways to connect with their audience. How have you, if you have, engaged with people and how did you find the experience?

TDK: we haven’t done anything ourselves. The reason is that for the album launch we had been working with two other members of our loose Mood Taeg Kollektiv (Faible – photography and Lotte – video artist) to create visuals to complement the live set up and we want to keep that as our first live performance.

What tips do you have or what things do you find useful in keeping yourself going during these strange times?

K’ko: We’ve just focused on the things that are important to us and have maintained as much normality as possible. It has been nice to have the album as a pleasant distraction.

Have you taken on any new challenges or routines during lockdown?

K’ko: Nothing exactly new but we’ve been fine tuning the live set. The album was recorded using Cubase but the instrumentation was 95% analogue and this has proved a challenge when it comes to performing live. With only two people in the live set up, playing the multiple instruments used on the songs is impossible so we have switched to Ableton Live with a Launchpad, Launchkey and Bass Station to recreate the album live. It has been an interesting challenge to combine using the Launchpad as a clip launcher with trying to play other parts live.

What music, books, films, art or television shows have sustained you through lockdown?

TDK: I’ve been rereading Christopher Grayling’s biography of Sergio Leone.

K’ko: I’ve just finished The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. He’s practically unknown here in Germany. It was an interesting introduction to contemporary Scottish literature, haha.

TDK: For art, it has been interesting to see what other friends have been doing. I really enjoyed a series of paintings by local Dundee artist (and music legend) VEX. He did one painting each day during his 14 day quarantine all of which I really enjoyed. We are also big fans of Northern Soul and there have been countless Soul Nights live streamed both from the UK and in Germany which has a relatively small but dedicated Northern Soul scene.

TDK: Not having work has also given us time to focus on other aspects of our own creativity. We both paint (the album cover art is one of K’ko’s paintings) and I’ve been working on the manuscript of a book covering the 15 years I spent as a teacher in China.

What are your hopes for a post-lockdown world?

TDK and K’ko: We wish we had something positive to say about this. Maybe something like we hope that as a post-lockdown society we will have realized that a system which  privatizes profits and socializes costs has been shown to be not fit for purpose. Or that when the list of key personnel was drawn up, billionaires were conspicuously absent for a very good reason. But as we can see with the situation in America at present, things will get a lot worse before they get better.

Anything else that you would like to add or say?

TDK and K’ko: To end on a positive note, there are a lot of people out there being creative for the sake of being creative who have had a positive impact on us and our music. Thanks and keep on keepin on!

Photo credit – Faible

Here’s a video for one of the songs from the album:

Previously on Life Under Lockdown:

#1 –  Lonelady
#2 –  Jan Burnett (Spare Snare)
#3 –  Ghari Mure (Echo Machine)
#4 –  Lomond Campbell
#5 –  Adam Ross (Randolph’s Leap)
#6 –  Jason Brown (Brix and the Extricated/Parent)
#7 –  Jeremy Thoms (The Cathode Ray / Stereogram Recordings)
#8 –  Cammy McFarlane (Mitchell Museum)
#9 –  Dickson Telfer (Vulture Party / Out of the Swim)
#10 – Lloyd James Fay (ex Thula Borah)
#11 – Elizabeth Nelson (The Paranoid Style)
#12 – Scott McKinlay (STOOR)
#13 – Seriously, do you think the world needs any more bad luck?
#14 – Jill O’Sullivan (Jill Lorean)
#15 – Raymond Gorman (The Everlasting Yeah)
#16 – Simon Cuthbert-Kerr (Wozniak)
#17 – Mike Kane (Vex)
#18 – Becca Murray (Gold Furs)
#19 – Christopher Harvie (Deathcats / Faiides / Shredd)