The Music Of Kyle Kaos

We’re very happy here at Dirt Witch Records to be re-issuing the work of Kyle Kaos. There’s a lot of reasons this is a weird one to write about. I think it makes the most sense to share something written by the family, and add context from there. From Haley Kehus, my soon to be wife, and Kyle’s sister. 

Kyle Kaos was a solo punk rock project by Kyle Kehus who was active in the Chicago punk scene from 2012 to 2018. Kyle Kaos’s first released album was Acute Control (June 2012) and introduced his lo-fi, electronic, alternative sound. His following albums were Negi Zonin’ (September 2013), and Finally Poor (August 2014). Additionally, he released a split, Total Request, with Radiator Hospital in February 2014 and another split with Away Game in August 2016. In true indie fashion, he wrote, recorded, and produced all of his music from his apartment in Pilsen. Kyle’s music advocated for his principles of positive radicalism (“being posi”) and “negi livin” (negative resistance for positive change). Kyle grew up in Michigan and his first band, Goodbye Heffalumps, performed in the Metro Detroit area. While attending Michigan State University, he formed the band Bogue Millionaires and they performed regularly in the Lansing music scene. Kyle passed away in December 2018 but his musical legacy lives on. All proceeds from Kyle’s music go directly to the non-profit organization his family formed in his name that provides scholarships to students passionate about social justice and activism like Kyle. STAY NEGI! -H. Kehus

To clarify this is all before I met Haley, so it’s with great caution, and with great bias I attempt to write about Kyle’s music, like a music writer would, and not like someone carrying grief by proxy;

As a music writer, Kyle Kaos’s music is a bit difficult to describe. I tend to search for similar and more familiar artists to give people an idea of what someone’s music is like, but Kyle’s music both clearly wears it’s influences on its sleeve, while also exuding it’s own personality and approach. Kyle’s music tends towards the catchiest motions of punk while adding a noisy, lo-fi flavor to everything through his production approach (Analog cassette mixer and heavy drum machine use) and personal musicianship. The music is consistently high energy, high speed and relentlessly lower case p punk, with most songs coming in at under two minutes, and a high volume addressing social issues. The music is also incredibly tight for punk music, without a note out of place, preferring simple, punk guitar riffs, and never intrusive lead guitar along with the dynamic punk, and usually lower register vocals. 

Kyle’s music was never stagnant either, consistently evolving throughout his albums. Acute Control started with a more fiercely drum machine, slightly avant-garde approach. Kyle also explored more vocally in this album, with a stooges-esque vocal style. His Total Request split with Radiator Hospital began to add some electronic elements, which Kyle further expanded upon in Negi Zonin’. Negi Zonin’ also brought a blown out production style, as well as more expansive, post-punk guitar. Finally Poor tightened production, delivering the most consistent, and polished album yet with numerous fantastic songs like “Kyoto Protocol” and “I Broke Up The Gang”. Finally, Kyle’s split with Away Game brought back a more fiercely drum machine sound as well as a sharper guitar tone. 

We are so excited that the music of Kyle Kaos begins to come to all platforms August 14th. Until then, there is a Soundcloud playlist with a sample off of all of his album’s, and you can listen to his music on bandcamp, HOWEVER, please do not purchase anything as it all goes to a no longer functional account. 

3 responses

  1. hurstjustint

    Reblogged this on This Music Blog Sux and commented:

    An article about Kyle Kaos’s music from my record label


  2. Charles Hodgson

    Shocked and saddened to hear of Kyle’s passing. I was last in touch with him back in 2017, and had been irregularly checking his Bandcamp site since then for any new musical activity. i had the idea today to Google the correct spelling of his surname and found out.
    We had a very friendly back and forth about me ordering his cassettes & 7″, and I decided in the end to just go for the downloads (of everything, including the Bogue Millionaires) ‘cos of the extortionate international shipping which was really starting to bite. A difficult choice for an OCD record collector like myself.
    He was talking about going in a more UK 80’s DIY musical direction, and mentioned the Cleaners From Venus as an inspiration for the stuff we was working on. There was also mention of a possible new record on Gulcher records.
    I kinda thought of his music in the spirit of personal favourites like Swell Maps, the TVP’s , Subway Sect, Scars, Home Blitz, Times New Viking, Happy Refugees/Garage Class, Pagans (he covered), Nerves (also), even the earliest (and best) Kurt Vile (the Gulcher-era).
    He was so talented I was sure he was going to get the recognition he deserved.
    He was real nice to me in his communications, and I just wanted you and Haley to know he has big fans from as far afield as Scotland. Great punk travels worldwide.
    Love and best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hurstjustint

      First of all I would like to let you know how much I appreciate this comment, and you reaching out. Ive shown Haley so far and shes very touched (as am I) and will be sending this along to the rest of the family. I really love hearing about the direction he was thinking of going, and more about his influences. Definitely going to have to look further into the bands you mentioned as your faves, as you clearly had a similar vibe.

      Much love from across the sea in Michigan

      Justin HK

      Sorry if this is a bit scatterbrained, just getting back from a flight.


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