Music interview: KOYO are ready to rock Leeds Festival

Due to perform at Leeds Festival and release their self-titled debut album on September 15, founding member Huw Edwards discussed the band's sounds, influences and favourite venue in their hometown of Leeds.

What are the main musical influences on the band?

We grew up on rock bands. Then we moved to Leeds to study music and broadened our horizons into jazz fusion, funk, hip-hop, etc. When we started everyone had their own little area of expertise, and then when we finished everyone had a little piece from everyone’s. It was inevitable we were always gonna be a rock ’n’ roll band at heart though…

How would you describe your sound to those who haven’t heard you?

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If we had to pigeonhole it, we’d probably go with what most people turn to and say prog or psych rock, but neither would be intended in the classic sense of the term. When I think of prog I think of Yes, Dream Theater or Rush, which once you’ve listened to us you’ll understand that’s not what we’re about at all. Sure, our song structures are at times unorthodox and adventurous, and there are high levels of musicianship in this band, but whatever ‘tricks’ we pull are to accommodate to the song. It has to be because that’s just where we felt the songs were destined to go.

Your debut single was titled Tetrachromat (Parts 1 & 2). What is a Tetrachromat?

A Tetrachromat is someone that possesses more cones in their eyes than the average person for processing colour information. So they see more colours…

There are a lot of psych/shoegaze bands in Leeds at present. You’re music leans into this with a Prog edge. How have your live shows been received?

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Really well. The songs we’ve released so far are only snippets of an album that needs to be heard in its entirety for it to truly makes sense, so I think at this stage people really don’t know what to expect when they come to see us. However, they seem pretty convinced by the end! The album is a journey. It’s a lot heavier live as well.

What is the meaning of the band name ‘KOYO’?

It’s a Japanese word for when the leaves turn brown in autumn. We just like the way it rolls off the tongue and it works well as a metaphor for the transformative and progressive nature of our songs. How they take you from one place to another. And also, the logo looks good blown up. It has this symmetry and geometry to it.

If you were to curate your own festival, who would be the three headliners (living or dead)?

I’d resurrect Layne Staley, Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell and have Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains headline…

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What was the first gig you went to see, and did that band/artist have an effect on you musically?

Status Quo! I thought it was the best thing ever at the time. But I’m gonna say not consciously?? Haha. Although it definitely cemented my obsession with wanting to be in a band at the time!

What’s your favorite venue to play in Leeds?

The Lending Room.

If you could cover one artists song and make it your own, who’s would it be?

In the House, In a Heartbeat by John Murphy.

When will your debut album be released and are there any plans for it to be released physically on vinyl?

September 15 and yes, most certainly!

KOYO play at Leeds Festival on Sunday August 27.

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