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Kayo Dot’s ‘Coyote’ Took a Year to Perfect

Kayo Dot

After years of writing and recording, Kayo Dot‘s main mastermind Toby Driver has got his routine down pat. “I think when you have music that is that complicated, the way to be most successful musically at it is to have one person really helming it, acting like a director,” Driver told Noisecreep. “Especially with Kayo Dot’s music, it’s really, really, really hard for an objective observer to understand what actually is supposed to be happening until they see the whole picture.”

Driver’s secret ingredient is time. He says it takes time to live with a certain part to see if it will work in the music. In the case of the band’s latest release ‘Coyote,’ a “long time” equals a full year.

Unlike the band’s previous work, this album started as what could have been a solo project for Driver. In collaboration with the band’s close friend Yuko Sueta, Driver wrote a composition that would have been performed by a quartet. Sueta — who is now terminally ill — contributed the vivid story that became the lyrics. She also worked on a film that would have went along with the music.

“The original intention was like, ‘Oh let’s make this gothic thing.’ Because I want to use this Goth-based sound, and I want to be inspired by all these Goth bands. So I was like, ‘Why don’t you make all the words be super melodramatic?’” Driver said.

As time passed, the narrative-driven music became more of a project for Kayo Dot. “I had spent so much time working on it that it was time to do another Kayo Dot record,” Driver recalled. “So I was like, ‘Why don’t we just adapt this for the band?’”

Unfortunately, this was about the same time that Sueta’s health worsened. “The original release plan was to release it as music with film. But she could no longer work on it so that part of it kind of fell to the wayside,” Driver said. “The music became the focus for [Kayo Dot]. And since [Sueta's] participation diminished more and more, the best that we could do to honor her contribution was to bring it back to being related to her in some way.”

And the same way that Driver believes the best way to approach Kayo Dot’s music — which is to wait until you see the whole picture — is the same way that Sueta’s work put the album together. “All of her lyrics are a fictional narrative that wasn’t supposed to be about her. But then if you look at it, you can relate it to her,” he said.

‘Coyote’ will be available via Hydra Head Records on April 6.

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