Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?
Music has been my number one passion since I was a child. I started with classical piano, but then had a realization that I wasn’t fully fulfilled performing others’ music, and that I needed to take a risk and try to find my own musical voice. I went on to study electronic music composition and piano at the university, and have been on an obsessive never-ending journey since!
Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?
Growing up my biggest influences were my grandmother and father. Both were very passionate about classical music. My grandmother played classical piano and organ until her early 90’s, and my dad listened to classical music constantly and took our family to Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts. Then in my teens the big influence was Chicago house and Detroit techno, and then next IDM music on labels like Warp and Ninja Tune, pre-fusion jazz, and soul music. It was inspiring to be in Chicago in the 90’s when post-rock took off too. Thrill Jockey and bands like Tortoise were combining electronics into rock music in a new way, and it was an exciting time to experience music evolving.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
The biggest challenge was rising above being a local musician. Taking my career from local shows to other cities in the states, and then touring and releasing music internationally, took a lot of hustle. My husband is also from Chicago, so it wasn’t easy for us to pick-up and leave. He agreed we could move to London if I was accepted into the Royal College of ‘Music Composition for Screen’ Masters program. The program accepts about ten students per year, but I was determined! I felt trapped and like I’d hit a creative wall in Chicago. So I think the greatest challenge was extracting myself from that situation, and putting myself in a better place to create and expand.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?
I love working on commissioned pieces. Whether a film score, a song for a compilation, or a bespoke piece for a performer, I really enjoy having set parameters going into it. Like Stravinsky’s famous quote, “The more constraints one imposes the more one frees one’s self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution.”
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?
The biggest challenge is organizing it! We’re all busy people, so finding a time we can all be in the same room can be like a Tetris game. There are so many pleasures. I’ve met so many incredible people who dedicate their lives to their passions and bettering themselves. It’s a a great little bubble of a world.
Which works are you most proud of?
The debut London Electronic Orchestra album. This is a few years of exploration and experimentation all coming together, and I’m very excited for it’s release.
Who are your favourite musicians/composers?
John and Alice Coltrane are two of my favorite musicians. My favorite composers are Chopin (piano works), Eric Satie, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
The first big London Electronic Orchestra concert in 2014 for a 36-piece orchestra at the Britten Theatre. I was figuring it out as it went along, but we pulled it off! It gave me the confidence to keep going with the project.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Believe in yourself and focus on your craft.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I would like to be touring internationally with London Electronic Orchestra, composing new music, and writing film scores. Basically continuing on the same path.
London Electronic Orchestra
DEBUT ALBUM RELEASED MAY 6, 2016 ON THE VINYL FACTORY LABEL
Kate Simko has carved an international career as an electronic music producer, film composer, live performer, and DJ. Hailing from Chicago, Kate’s music reflects the influences of the city’s underground sounds, as well her background in classical piano and jazz music.