Getting To Know Joachim Kühn
Ahoy! We swap letters from afar with enigmatic shapespinner and songweaver Joachim Kühn:
It is with great pleasure that we introduce to you multidisciplinary dreamer Joachim Kühn. Painting with a palette of woozy, big-bellied hues, Kühn creates stunningly humble imagery, like anonymous notes blown across desert sand, cacti punctuating a scorched sky. The soft tumble of a midsummer swim. The gentle stretch of palm fronds toward melted, humming air. It all unfurls…
First off, could you please introduce yourself?
Hello, I’m Joachim Kühn.
Where are you as you write this? What were you doing before you sat down to type (assuming, of course, that you are sitting down)?
I’m sitting on a lovely green sofa that me and my girlfriend just bought this week. I’d just got out of bed and put a Chocolate Watch Band record on while I ate some shreddies.
Your name is somewhat a pseudonym; tell me more? Are there any links to the German jazz pianist?
For my first few days I was called Joachim before my dad made it Josh with Joachim becoming my middle name, and my grandad was called Alfred Kühn but then he changed it to Hobday during the war (he lived in Austria and it’s the German name for Cohen which is a Jewish name) to not draw attention to himself.
Where did you grow up, what was your childhood home like?
I grew up in Warrington, a big town in between Liverpool and Manchester in the North West of England. Apparently it was the first industrial town in the world. I lived with my mum and my sister in a village outside the town and our home was really nice.
Where are you living now? Where else would you like to live?
I’m living in Manchester and just moved to a place here called Levenshulme. At the minute I’d like to live somewhere with more space, or somewhere in Spain.
How has this year been compared with last year?
They were both alright. I got excited about buying an actual bin and more recently a wicked hoover. I also just this week stopped running a club night I’d been doing for four years. Good times.
What’s the last memorable dream you had? Do you have any recurring dreams?
The last recurring dream I can think of was where I was friends with Steven Gerrard and we’d play football and hang about together. I seem to forget my dreams after I’ve got up and had some breakfast.
What are some adjectives you might use to describe your artwork? One of mine would be ‘melty’.
Hmmm… Dusty, like something you’ve picked out from the sand. Maybe ‘lofi’ as there’s usually mistakes in there, but I don’t know if you can call artwork lofi… I feel like the stuff I make is always changing but at the minute I’d say they look like 70’s tiled coffee tables.
What are your favourite kinds of shapes (they might be abstract ones, in-the-world ones, both)?
Ones with wobbly edges. Curved ones. Blobs. Suns and stars. Wobbly circles and wavy lines are probably my favourites.
Where do most of your ideas come to fruition? Do you keep sketchbooks/notebooks?
I’ll see part of something in the real world, like a building or a car bumper sticker or an old jug and try to remember it to make something similar. I’ve got load of images saved on my laptop for ideas. I usually try and make something, find it looks rubbish, get frustrated, then just start messing around in Photoshop and sometimes something good comes out. If I sit down and want to make something good that’s when I can’t seem to have any inspiration. I’ll have a load of half finished things saved and waiting for ages then in one day manage to finish them all off.
Some of my favourite people I like to refer to as ‘tangerines’, because they’re doing a lot of things. They’ve got lots of segments. You seem like a bit of a tangerine to me. Besides your art, you also make gorgeous mixtapes. How did this come about? What kinds of activities can you imagine your mixtapes soundtracking?
The mixtapes were mainly inspired by the early Reverberation Radio mixes. The first ones I heard of theirs were 48 and 49 and I got obsessed with them. Me and my old flat mate (Bleached on Mixcloud) would always be finding random one-off songs and the mixtapes were a good place to put them before they got lost on your laptop and you don’t find them again for a couple of years. Rainbow Trout also puts really good stuff together. I’m more into the Bleached and Rainbow Trout mixes more than the Reverberation ones now.
I can’t say I’ve ever thought about what people might be doing when they listen to my mixtapes… I sometimes leave them on for my dog while I’m out, and he’s probably sleeping on the couch or laying a turd on my carpet.
You also have an Etsy store, Cat Called Esteban. How did this project kick off? Do you really know a cat called Esteban?
No we don’t know a cat called Esteban! I’d been living in Barcelona for a bit, and my sister was over there with her boyfriend. When we came back to Manchester we were frustrated looking for jobs and thought we’d set up something of our own. We’ve been on eBay for four years then set up on Etsy recently.
What will you do once you finish writing this?
I don’t know yet. I’ll probably have a ciggie.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org for commissions! I also ordered a shit load of the Allah Lahs’ new record on pre-order by accident, if anyone wants one let me know. I got the US release, Rough Trade release, Brittany Glasz 7” and a couple of cassettes.
Interview by Chloe Mayne.