Ever heard of Kiss of the Whip? Well, if you’ve clicked this article, you now have! Kiss of the Whip is the Baltimore-based solo project of Tristan Victor. The sound is a delightful vintage-feeling, metal-flavored, dark-yet-vibrant sort of post-punk synthwave.
I had the pleasure of seeing him live at Absolution Fest in Tampa recently (I even scored myself some merch!).
So, Kiss of the Whip is a solo project. How did you come about starting it?
After spending years playing in metal bands, I experienced a long creative drought that blocked me from songwriting for a number of years. It took reengaging with goth and darkwave music (which I was a fan of from a very young age and then shelved in favor of metal and hardcore), and making the clear decision to become a solo musician to unblock myself. I am eternally grateful to dark electronic music for allowing me to do that.
Was there any particular facet or area of the goth/darkwave scene that really helped spark that re-engagement? Your story of, to a degree, artistic reinvention reminds me of how Gary Numan came back into the scene with a new style inspired by, if I remember correctly, Nine Inch Nails.
It’s hard to say — it’s a musical style that speaks to me in a very deep way. It also helps that electronic music is more easily conceived alone (as opposed to in collaboration) and I really love to have the ability to represent my artistic/personal vision with little to no interference.’
On the topic of your artistic vision, how would you say your style/technique/direction has evolved since the foundation of this project?
I’ve been working hard to increase my skillset in all aspects, from songwriting to performance to production. I believe that improving in all of these aspects make the artistic vision clearer and closer to my intentions. Sonically, I think that identifying particular production techniques and pieces of gear that translate my world outwards is very important. Lyrically, I work in quite an improvisational way and I think I’ve been improving in making that process smoother and more authentic with practice.
Nice. Bragging time- what’s a lyric (or stanza, etc) that you’re particularly proud of?
There is a song on ‘Like Love Only Real’ called ‘Black Jeans’ with a chorus I am quite proud of:
“I saw your heart and it was black/ I heard your words and they were white/ I bit your lips and they were red/ I spread your ashes and they are grey.”
Something about the symmetry and meaning of those lines really feel right to me.
If I’m correct- you sell merch with that line on it?
What’s your favorite piece of gear?
Many pieces of gear! I love the Universal Audio Apollo Twin for recording, the Roland SH-2 for synth bass, the Roland JV-1080 for soft pads, the 1010music Blackbox for sampling, and the Roland System-8 for saws leads.
I know you’re releasing some new material in the future. Are there any directions that you want to go? New sound experimentation, perhaps. Or a group you’ve always wanted to work with.
I am almost done with a new album — the direction continues to move towards the more aggressive and more melodic, with additional epicness via classical drums and synth strings.
Personally I cannot wait to hear that.
So, we met at Absolution Fest. How was this most recent bout of touring?
It was so amazing having the opportunity to share the stage (and car! And hotel rooms!) with the amazingly wonderful Hallows. They are incredibly generous and talented individuals who I am proud to call my friends.
To close this interview, is there anything you’d like to tell your current fans, and anything to tell anyone who’s hearing about Kiss of the Whip for the first time?
I love and appreciate every one of you! And thank you so much, Arthur and Sounds & Shadows, for taking the time to speak with me!