Interview: Kunal Singhal, 10 Years of Chaos
Ten years of face-melters, jazz odysseys and genre-defying avant-garde exhibitions later, the legend that is Kunal Singhal is preparing another all-day spectacular featuring some of his most enthralling bookings to date.
Ten years of face-melters, jazz odysseys and genre-defying avant-garde exhibitions later, the legend that is Kunal Singhal is preparing another all-day spectacular featuring some of his most enthralling bookings to date. Ahead of the Chaos Theory Festival – 10 Years of Chaos at Boston Music Room and The Dome, our very own Chad Murray caught up with Kunal to chat about the upcoming festival and more…
E&D: To start with Kunal, do you remember the first show you booked and who was on the line-up?
KS: Yes! It was on 3rd February 2010 and featured a post-rock and indie band Motion Picture Soundtrack, eclectic experimental rock from The Microdance, another band called PIPES and acoustic singer-songwriter Chris Macaree.
E&D: Are there any bands on the line-up, you’re putting in for the first time?
KS: I’m super glad to finally work with Teeth Of The Sea (introduced to me by Echoes & Dust), Årabrot (ever since discovering them at Cosmic Carnage’s London gigs), Lushworker and David Terry, both members of the almighty Bong. We’ve also never worked with Mai Mai Mai before, but photographer Jose Ramon Caamaño recommended him after his set at Raw Power Festival, and it’s flattering that Mai Mai Mai is premiering a new AV show at 10 Years Of Chaos in February, and I absolutely love Gold’s songwriting so am glad to book them and that photographer Luís Rodrigues will stop badgering me to book them. Ante-Inferno are on tour with the genre-bending Furia from Poland, so we get a chance to hear their bleak, Yorkshire-inspired output in the flesh.
E&D: Are there any bands that you had hoped would play at your tenth birthday party that unfortunately could not? Perhaps acts that have disbanded since you booked them?
KS: The one regret about this lineup I have is that, through totally unrelated circumstances, we didn’t get more UK math rock bands on the lineup. The math-rock scene is a huge part of my life and we’ve had the joy of Chaos Theory being a part of it over the last decade. VASA and Memory Of Elephants are obviously awesome, Nøught, Teeth Of The Sea, Zu and all the Towards Collapse Takeover producers will definitely appeal to fans of unpredictable time signatures, but it’s a scene that’s kept me joyous and sane throughout my life and I’d like to get more math bands on that stage the following year.
E&D: How has your role developed since first starting Chaos Theory?
KS: Well, on the night we now have a ridiculously good team of people who cover merch, box office, photos, film and general running around. So it’s nice to not be trying to manage the stage and box office at the same time while running around with a cash box or trying to shout at punters to wait at the door while I’m on stage trying to help a band load their amp. Now I spend more time on admin and promotion online and can focus more on the podcast and more creative ideas, as there are great people leafleting and postering for us as well. There is a lot more of my time spent on admin behind the scenes, but there is a lot more time to just enjoy the show on the night and hang out with those people who’ve become friends, just from seeing each other at a lot of gigs. I still curate, organise single gigs, book and finance everything single-handedly, but a lot more of the bands we book aren’t necessarily bands I knew until someone in the team recommended them to me (quite persistently, sometimes!).
E&D: Who is the core team at Chaos Theory now and what do they bring to the team?
KS: Some proper legends. All obsessive perfectionists who constantly demand more from me to make Chaos Theory do better for artists and guests.
On the night of an event, you can expect to see Alan Pride or Mel Al-Sheikh on merch or box office, and Chris Wood on box office. Alan also helps with production for the annual February festivals and manages one of the stages. He has a lot of experience as a manager/tour manager/advisor for Jo Quail and Undersmile. Arran Oakes manages the other stage, drawing on his experience as organiser of Portals Fest and stage manager of the Yokhai tent at ArcTanGent.
Chris is also really involved with the radio show we have on Threads Radio, which has made it a lot more fun this last year.
The website is maintained and updated by Tereza Kinnertova.
Lou Steaton (aka Artist For The Ambulance) did almost all of our artwork from 2010 until 2018.
Now our primary artist is Dorota (aka Sagui), with Simon Kallas bringing more and more of his photo-art into the mix, and the occasional piece of poster art by Chris Lambourne (Art But Not Really).
Peter Junge is an especially gifted studio engineer who created our Youtube channel and recorded and filmed bands at our gigs. Now he’s super busy with studio work across Europe, working with independent and high-profile artists alike, so we have a whole new bunch of people filming bands for the channel. They are:
Chris Purdie (aka Riff Underground)
Adam Harris and Alec Maynard (aka Magic Theatre Films)
Arran Oakes (aka FLA Production)
Simon Kallas also does some filming, as does Matthew Gaffen (he does the music videos for his band Hearse Pileup) and Robin Fencott (aka producer Metalogue) will help with occasional audio mixing.
The regular photographers at our gigs are currently:
Jose Ramon Caamaño
Ryan Whitwell (Shotison Media)
Natalia Joruk is a writer who has been interviewing bands we’ve booked who capture her imagination. She’s the deputy editor of art magazine Beautiful Bizarre, that embraces writing about a different form of creativity.
Shaheen Komatsu is an avid music fan who’s been postering around town for us. Dorota also posters for us now.
E&D: What would you say is your new direction for Chaos Theory?
KS: Who knows? Let’s just see how many creatives we can get into one room and see what that experience feels like.
E&D: In the interest of scoop journalism, is there anything you would like to announce with regards to the festival or other ventures you’re working on?
Watch out for special limited edition merch at 10 Years Of Chaos, featuring new artwork by Sagui, a very special audiovisual event on 21st March with IIVII (Josh Graham of A Storm Of Light, Red Sparowes, Battle Of Mice), Lia Mice and Freida Abtan, and a two-night event with Jarboe and Peter Emerson Williams in a very small church in mid-May. Technology, communication and sheer god damn defiance all seem to be making it an extremely exciting time to discover new forms of art.
I may also premiere a brand new dance move at the Towards Collapse Takeover in February.