Few bands in recent memory have been as inventive and exciting as the electronic/jazz hybrid duo called Knower. Knower has undoubtedly changed the face of both electronic music and jazz, inspiring many other musicians and proving that electronic music can be something greater.
Knower is an independent electronic project created by talented multi-instrumentalists Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi. They came onto the scene like most artists these days, through viral videos on YouTube. Their live session videos recorded at home are among their most popular. Their content is visually unique and somewhat non-sequitur, often using humor along with the music. Knower videos often seem personal, like Cole is commenting on the video as it progresses. Take their live session for the song “Overtime” as an example:
The center of Knower’s now iconic sound and visual style is Louis Cole, who started developing his musical identity in the early 2000s. He began to make videos on YouTube thanks to Jack Conte, a fellow musician and good friend of his. It was in 2010 that both Louis Cole and Knower truly began. Cole released his first album in the same year that Knower’s debut album was released. Listening to Cole’s music (especially his most recent record, 2018’s “Time”), I get the impression that he is the driving creative force of the group. A lot of the group’s sound closely resembles Louis Cole’s sound on his own; watching Knower and Cole in their videos cements this further. To be specific, Cole’s love for jazz chords, driving bass lines, EDM inspired four on the floor, and complex drum breaks shine through in both projects.
Knower and Louis Cole live shows are an entirely different experience all together. Their music is incredible on its own, but the duo tends to get very creative with live arrangements, hiring an entire big band’s worth of musicians to create the equally eclectic and entertaining atmosphere of their live shows. Their lineup often includes frequent collaborators such as bassist Sam Wilkes, multi-instrumentalist Nate Wood, or saxophonist Sam Gendel, all of whom have also worked with Knower on their YouTube videos. Whether it’s skeleton costumes, surreal live visuals, hilarious dances or shooting a drum set with a Nerf gun, the Knower/Louis Cole live scene is second to none.
The group has had a few different offshoots since it’s inception, and I’d like to highlight those for a second. It’s somewhat uncommon for a band to extend into a large web of projects like Knower has done. Cole and Artadi have both created incredible solo records and worked with different collaborators. Louis Cole alone has worked with Thundercat and Brad Mehldau just to name a couple. But perhaps the most noteworthy Knower offshoot is the absurdist grind core duo known as Clown Core. The duo has always kept their identities secret, but they are rumored to be Louis Cole and saxophonist Sam Gendel. Among the duo’s achievements are playing inside a porta potty, getting featured on Adult Swim, playing inside of a van, and various obscene things including selling a container of poop on their website. Very original indeed.
Something I love about Knower is just how successful they have been despite their frequently off-kilter work. They’ve opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in various cities, performed in a ton of cities, been shouted out by Quincy Jones, and have recorded with a number of their peers in the industry including Snarky Puppy. Why is this so awesome to me? Well, in an overly commercialized industry, Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi are a breath of fresh air and a reminder that modern music can still be exciting. I can’t wait for their next album.