Photo: Hollin Jones
Name: Acle Kahney
Location: Milton Keynes, UK
To start off, let’s rewind to the very beginning and talk about how you first discovered your interest in music.
As a kid, I was surrounded by music like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and The Doors. My step brothers had electric guitars hanging around the house and at the age of eight, I picked one up and started to learn a Robert Plant song. It grew from there.
Was guitar always your one and only option? What got you hooked on the instrument and who are some of the players you think shaped your style?
Growing up I was only interested in guitar. David Gilmour was and still is a big influence for me and obviously Mehsuggah. As a teenager I transitioned from Nirvana, Korn, Mudvayne to Meshuggah.
What is your creative process like? Walk us through how typically a TesseracT song go from its first initial idea to a fully fledged, finished production.
It can vary. Sometimes I’ll have a riff and work from there. Sometimes a clean melody which I’ll build upon. More often than not, I’ll come up with outro-sounding sections. I can write outros really easily…its the rest of the song I struggle with! So quite often I work backwards from there. At least it gives me a goal to reach, so to speak. Usually what I consider my “best” songs are the ones I’ve written in 30 minutes. They’re not forced and flow naturally. Unfortunately, those ones are quite rare and just spring out of nowhere. “Nocturne” being a prime example! I think I wrote that intro riff in ten minutes and the rest just came naturally.
Listen to “Nocturne” by TesseracT here.
You’re an avid Superior Drummer 3 user. How does it help in your creative process and/or when mixing? What other Toontrack products and/or sounds do you regularly use?
I’ve been using Superior Drummer since the Drum Kit From Hell days, back when you had to use it with NI Battery. It was really groundbreaking back then. I’ve used it ever since for writing TesseracT music. It’s also the foundation of the drum sound for our albums “Altered State,” “Polaris” and “Sonder.” I used some of my own samples along with Superior Drummer on “Polaris” and “Sonder.” However, the core is built using libraries including the Progressive Foundry, New York Studios Vol.1 (Avatar), The Metal Foundry and Music City SDXs as well as the Nashville EZX for room reinforcement. Recently I’ve been really liking the Death and Darkness SDX kits.
On that note, you have always been very much a do-it-yourself type of band – especially with you at the helm writing, engineering, mixing and producing. Would you ever consider letting go of the reins and allow an outside producer to completely take the wheel?
We are actually in discussions right now about this. We’re planning to work with an engineer to record drums for the next album. We’re also open to the idea of some kind of co-producer role. I think tunnel vision can be a thing both writing and mix-wise. So I’m curious to hear how an external ear may help.
Do you ever find it hard being as heavily invested as you are in every aspect of a TesseracT production?
More so nowadays. I struggle with “demoitis.” We have a finished demo and when it comes time to record the final takes and do a fresh mix – the original demo sounds better. This sometimes forces me to record good-sounding demo takes so I can use them if needed. But that can be a little stifling when you’re in writing mode. So I sometimes try not to overly mix and polish the demos.
When mixing, where do you usually start: the drums, guitars, vocals or something else?
99% of the time it’s guitars, drums and bass for me. Once there’s some arrangement shaping up I’ll send it to Dan for him to lay vocal ideas over.
Is there any instrument you generally struggle with more than any other in a mix?
Snare drums! Sometimes they just work…other times I feel the need to reset the whole mix to make them work. Other than that it’s usually the guitar tone. I’m rarely satisfied with it, perhaps because it’s my instrument. If the bass tone is good, then I can rely on that to cover the guitar tone, haha.
Give us an example of a few albums you weren’t involved with yourself but that you think come together perfectly in terms of sound, feel and vibe.
The first couple of Martin Grech albums sound amazing. As does his latest. His early work was also a big inspiration on me and I love the general vibe and sound design on his work. Very different from that would be Karnivool’s “Sound Awake,” which still sounds gorgeous.
Give us a quick rundown of your guitar setup live and in the studio!
I have a few Mayones Setius and Regius guitars loaded with Bareknuckle Blackhawks. I’ve switched over to Neural DSP’s Quad Cortexs very recently. Nothing more. Nice and simple. I still use Kempers and Axe FXs in the studio for different tones. There are so many options when it comes to working in the box so I like to try and keep my guitar tones simple when recording, if I can.
You’ve been with the band since the very beginning in 2003. Seeing as you’re closing in on two decade, what would you say some of your personal highlights along the way are? Any standout moments or events that you will remember or cherish forever?
Playing a gig on an igloo in Lapland, playing in front of 50,000+ people at Hell Fest and our last headline show at Sheperd’s Bush. Equally, however, I enjoy and somewhat miss the smaller club shows. But yeah, it’s crazy to think it’s gone from a bedroom project when I was 18 to playing shows that size.
TesseracT is often credited as one of the pioneering bands in the progressive metal scene. Which new bands do you think stand out in today’s scene?
Vola! They sound amazing and the tones/productions sound great. Really impressed with those guys. Also Bleed From Within. They’ve been around a little while, but their recent material sounds huge.
Out of everything that comes with being in a band and being a musician – writing, recording, jamming, touring, traveling (the list goes on)…what is your favorite part and why?
Touring has its occasional highlights, but generally it’s pretty tiring. While I enjoy playing shows, I enjoy the process of writing and recording way more! I just get a buzz when I’ve written something that ticks all the buttons.
What’s next on your personal agenda music-wise? And the band’s?
Album number five! We’re focussing all our energy on completing the writing and getting into the studio next year. We have a few festivals lined up for summer 2022 and hope to start touring again in late 2022/early 2023.