The Kiss That Took A Trip was founded in 2006, and M.D. Trello is the only member and admitted factotum. A project made possible by Trello’s decision to embrace public exhibition, which was motivated by the DIY aesthetic of musical figures. Check out the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how it all got started?
THE KISS THAT TOOK A TRIP: I’d say this is a quite uncommon musical project, because of a variety of reasons. It’s a one-man-band, I started it at a late age, and almost all of the sounds are programmed. It was the reaction to the increasingly commercial and untrue state of the musical landscape in the second half of the aughts, and it’s a statement on how everybody can be artistic. The bottom line is: what’s the worth of your musicianship if you’re not using it to express your actual self? So I thought that even if I wasn’t a musician, I was valid to contribute to the presence of more authentic music out there.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
THE KISS THAT TOOK A TRIP: No formal training, and I’m hesitant to even reply “self-taught”. I understand the process of writing music as something pretty intuitive, and that’s the way I’ve been working since the beginning: just translating what I hear in my head to a computer. All of it makes me feel tiny when compared to trained musicians, and I don’t mean to step on their toes by recording music. My admiration for them is huge. Mine is another league, and maybe another sport.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘THE KISS THAT TOOK A TRIP?
THE KISS THAT TOOK A TRIP: The funny thing is that, save for a few artists, the set of bands that I love and the set of bands that have influenced me don’t seem to overlap much. Why is this, I have no idea, but it’s like I had a “listener brain” and a “writer brain”. As a listener, I enjoy alternative music from the 90s, post rock, some classic metal, ambient, … But the traces I find in my own music are an eclectic cocktail. Right off the top of my head I can name drop Angelo Badalamenti, Bark Psychosis, Mogwai, Talk Talk, and everything that sounds fuzzy, arpeggiated and allows to spread out calm vocal layers on top of it. Regarding the name, I “stole” it from a song by the japanese psychedelic band Acid Mothers Temple.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
THE KISS THAT TOOK A TRIP: I’m devoted to construct an appealing overall feel in my songs. For me, the mix of melody and ambience is the ultimate winner. Any of them, independently, are strong enough to lay the foundations for a song, but if you manage to deliver a good blend of melody and atmosphere… that’s when it gets unique, in my opinion. Ideally, the sound I’m attempting to make is an approachable version of genres associated with long pieces, instrumental passages and weird structures. I guess I try to be the hummable version of King Crimson, or a more vocal heavy Brian Eno during his ambient era.
5. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
THE KISS THAT TOOK A TRIP:
It’s not a specific milestone, but I take some pride in the fact that I do almost everything on my own. While my audience is small, I realize that other bands have put a lot more work than me but struggle even more to get listeners. I know that this might sound unpopular or a weird thing to brag about, especially in these times where everything you’re told is “work your ass off and success will eventually come to you”, but it might be interpreted as a symptom that I’m doing well enough. This project, unfortunately, is a part time job for me.
6. For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style, which is known as POP?
THE KISS THAT TOOK A TRIP: There’s one element in the story of my musical journey that I find funny and endearing, and it’s the fact that, given that there was a time when I wasn’t considering public exposure at all, I kept a ton of my output for myself, and that means that the “phase of learning”, at least regarding the conquest of your own sound, has remained mostly hidden. And yes, that period involved a lot of emulation… It was when I definitely found my own sound that I chose to go public. Although it’s also true that I’ve gone through a very different evolution when talking about recording music and producing it. Regarding the quality of my sound, it’s been the opposite: I’ve shared poorly recorded stuff that maybe I should’ve kept in a vault. This other learning has been there for everybody to see. How did I reach my actual sound? I think I’m not even conscious of that process myself. I still operate on sheer inspiration many times, although sometimes I just experiment, get to a juicy bit and start from there.
7. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative, and entertainment?
THE KISS THAT TOOK A TRIP: I still feel undecided about it, both regarding my musical career and the artists I listen to. I am attracted to one pole and the other at the same time. On one hand, I have this almost religious respect for music that makes me think of it as a form of art that should remain immaculate and, on the other, I consider it the ideal form of expression, and I can’t think of an adult individual not having a political opinion (in fact, I don’t trust people who say they don’t have one). In the early days of The Kiss, I was a lot more political. Openly political. As years have passed by, I’ve mellowed out a bit, mostly out of frustration and disappointment in our societies, but the need to voice many opinions still lurks beneath the surface of what I do.
8. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfillment as the amount of work you are putting into it or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
THE KISS THAT TOOK A TRIP: This is frankly one of the best questions I’ve had thrown at me, because it deals with uncomfortable subjects related to the very nature of artistry, especially in this day and age when 99 % of bands feel like they’re hitting a wall everyday. I walk a thin line and I spend most of my time dealing with the possibility of surrendering. Keep in mind that I do absolutely everything by myself, from the writing, the recording, the mixing, the mastering, the design, the packaging, the videos, social media, etc. That amount of work needs to be fueled by true passion. I’ve found the strength to keep doing this for almost 18 years now with little to no reward, and I’ve never expected a change in the future. The only time where reality has knocked me off my track was during the 2019-2023 period, where personal circumstances almost kill The Kiss. But now I’m back at this, and the only change I wish for is getting better and better.
9. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
THE KISS THAT TOOK A TRIP: There’s not a single process I can pinpoint, but lately I’ve been lucky enough to rely on inspiration much more than before. Funnily enough, one might think that the tendency should be the opposite: once you’ve written a bunch of songs, it would be expected to develop more skills and tools to come up with ideas, but for some reason melodies keep coming to my head on their own. The basic structure, melody and arrangement of a song bloom quite quickly, but soon it turns into a painful process that extends for months. I like to approach the process in a sort of scientific way, in the sense that I like to throw stones at my own musical hypothesis to check if it still stands up. I do that by enforcing changes on the composition and then see what happens. If the change triggers doubts in me, that means there’s still work to do. If the song defends itself tooth and nail, then I know I’m on the right way. And all of this takes place with only me at the helm…
10. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
THE KISS THAT TOOK A TRIP: Misunderstanding. Many of the descriptions I read online about the stuff I make leave me a bit cold. I’ve come to realize that this musical project puzzles many. So sometimes I like to play along and be confusing on purpose, just for the laughs. I do things that make people question if The Kiss That Took A Trip is something to be taken seriously.