Article | Kate Simko | More the merrier

More the Merrier

Kate Simko makes minimal techno, but that's not all.

by Joshua P. Ferguson

originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 06.01.11

Like so many electronic producers before her, Chicago’s Kate Simko has found herself pigeonholed. With a string of early productions—for the respectable Traum, Ghostly International and Spectral Sound labels—that tend toward minimal techno, she can’t seem to shake the genre tag.

“I don’t mind. I have nothing against minimal music,” she tells me when we meet up at Wormhole Coffee here in Chicago to discuss Lights Out, her new record for Hello?Repeat. “But this album is a mixture of minimal techno, house, ambient music and maybe a couple of almost tech-house tracks. I was trying to blur the genre boundaries in a way, and I think I did.”

She’s right. On Lights Out, her debut artist album, she leads with a familiar and stripped-down thump on the deeply delightful “Beneath.” But then the sounds on display expand to include punchy techno with “Mira Vos” and “Bikini Atoll,” ethereal soundscapes like “Machine’s Mantra,” and even her Windy City heritage with lead single “Mind On You,” a Chicago house dead ringer. 

“It’s natural to put people into a box,” Simko says. “If people want to call it minimal, okay. It’s not, but whatever.” Chalk it up to being the way of the industry, and part of the travails of an artist exploring and finding her voice. For Simko, that search started while studying classical piano in college. “I loved playing the piano, but I didn’t feel passionate about just doing classical music,” she says. 

With a grandmother in her 90s who still plays the organ in church and a cousin who studied jazz at Juilliard, Simko’s family has music in its veins. Slender, smiling and auburn-haired, the 32-year-old fell in love with dance music early on. Having grown up in the Midwest’s rich rave scene, she was instantly drawn to the electronic worlds of labels like Warp and Ninja Tune that she discovered while at the University of Miami in Florida.

Here's a link to a recent mix she did for Louche Music:


Brandt, Chevallier - Just - Splendid Lo-Fi.
Chase - Loop 1 - Kote.
Mri, Denite - Black Hat - Resopal Schallware.
Freaks - The Creeps - Classic.
SeHou - To Who Love - Be As One.
Agaric - Who Made Up The Rules - Ovum.
Kiki and Lenz - Morning Maniacs (KS edit) - BPitch Control.
Mobius Strum - What Can I Do - InfraDigrecords.
DJ Buck - Make It Hot - Siesta.
Guy Gerber - Hate Love (Kate Simko remix) - Supplement Facts.
Ekkohaus - Cry Baby (Philip Stone edit) - Morris Audio.
Jesuon - Moodycaz - Exprezoo.
Dennis Ferrer - The Red Room (TMB and Jerome Sydenham remix) - Objektivity.
The Martinez Brothers - Issshhh (Beats) - Objektivity.
Mood II Swing - Do It Your Way - ITH (Defected).
Omega Man - Homebass (Tolfrey's Jacked Out Edit).
Kate Simko - Flight Into BA - Hello? Repeat
Nico Lahs - Clean Track - Brise.
Andres - Body and Soul (KS edit) - Mahogoni.



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