Cymbol 303 & This Pale Fire

By Ben Doy

Today (Friday July 24th) sees the release of Auckland producerCymbol 303 (Shivnesh Sumer) and singer/songwriter This Pale Fire(Corban Koschak) collaborative EP The Cycle. Described as EDM meets sensible indie-rock, I sat down for a chat with the duo in the lead up to the release and found out more about this intriguing project. 

How did you guys meet?

This Pale Fire: We both work in the advertising industry and our paths kinda crossed. I was looking for an engineer to do my EP, so I approached Shiv but...

Cymbol 303: I was too busy to accommodate his own solo EP. But I took the time out to listen to his voice... his demos, and I thought ‘Ok, sweet. I need to work with this guy'. So I proposed we do a song together and later on... actually it was that same day, we said ‘Why don't we do an EP?'

The Pale Fire: Yeah yeah, we really got into it. I love electronic music but I've never been able to make it myself. So to be able to produce that kind of music is great.

Cymbol 303: This would have been about two years ago. We started production on this EP two years ago.

It took two years?

Cymbol 303: Yeah, that's my fault.

This Pale Fire: Shiv likes to have everything perfect. But you can tell, if you look at when we thought we were happy with it a year ago, and then where it is now... there are so many little touches that have elevated it a lot.

Cymbol 303: Yeah had to keep sparkling it up. I wasn't happy with the way it sounded and I had to take a break from that and do other things. Then came back to it with a fresh mind. I wanted to get it right.

This Pale Fire: It's kind of strange that it's finally coming out. It's been in the pipeline for so long, but it's exciting.

The EP artwork is really interesting, what's the idea behind that?

Cymbol 303: That was all Corban!

This Pale Fire: Yeah, cause I'm a graphic designer as a day job as well, I wanted to make some artwork that would tie into the theme of the EP. It's basically like a concept EP on relationships. The first song ‘Burst Of Colour' is about the initial attraction... you have a crush on someone and life seems a bit better and stuff. Then ‘Don't Rob Me' is kind of like the moving faze... it's getting a bit serious, you're moving in, please don't rob me (laughs). And then ‘Better Than Me' is the kind of break up angry ballad song. And then it repeats, so that's where the cycle comes from.

The album artwork is like an infinity sign, which is like fragmented so it's broken? So the idea is that you're trying to break this cycle , not repeat it and have a successful relationship.

It's quite a unique sound that you've achieved, a cross between indie rock and electronic music...

Cymbol 303: Yeah, I think when I first heard his demos I could see it becoming what it is now. I sort of had the Chet Faker / Flume collab in mind. With that sort of method we kind of made something fresh as well.

This Pale Fire: I think so, yeah. We were so different musically with our inspirations that when it comes together it kind of fits. Shiv has a great mind for beats and percussion while I'm all about singing and lyrics. So we kind of fill each others gaps.

Who were both your influences?

Cymbol 303: When I started making electronic music I think Skrillex was my main influence. He's still my biggest influence at the moment. He keep changing his sound and he's different. And then Flume came and I had a whole new respect for that guy, he sort of changed the game. Because everyone wanted to sound like Skrillex, then Flume came and it was a different sound. So that's what made me realise when I started making music that I was going to have my own sound, rather than be another Flume or another Skrillex.

This Pale Fire: I got a guitar when I was about 14, and I was more into the rock scene back then. I'd been writing songs quite a lot in my bedroom and they'd always been in that kind of style. And I started getting into bands like Death Cab For Cutie, Bon Iver... those kind of folky, slightly indie rock. Like a bit of Coldplay & Radiohead.

And Cymbol 303, you won the George FM Remix Factor Competition 2013...

Cymbol 303: It's funny, when I knew I was nominated I told my mates and they were like "You've won this", and was thinking ‘Yeah, whatever' (laughs).Then I got a call and was pretty shocked to hear I'd made the final three. But as it turned out, I wasn't in the final three, they just wanted me in the studio and they said "Surprise, you've won!" (laughs). After that competition it made me realise that I've got something inside and started pursuing originals & making more music. It was a bit of a game changer.

How did you both come up with your names?

Cymbol 303: Finding a name was one of the hardest things to do. You want to find a name because you want to put songs out. So I was like ‘Ok cool, I really like cymbals'. And 303 is a vintage Roland synthersizer. I grew up with Roland, it was the first instrument I touched... and the first instrument I bought. So it's quite special to me the 303 so that's why I was like ‘Cymbol 303'.

This Pale Fire: I didn't want to go by my normal name because I thought it might have been a bit foreign sounding. So I tried to come up with something that was deep, but still quite playful... kinda like how I am and stuff. So I came up with ‘This Pale Fire', which is essentially a little joke for ‘pasty red head' (laughs).

This Saturday night you're playing the EP release show at Tyler Street Garage in Auckland, you must be looking forward to that?!

Cymbol 303: Yeah, we'll be performing out whole EP and a couple of other songs as well.

This Pale Friday: Yeah, we're going to jam out.

Cymbol 303: We've been practicing, and while practising we came up with a new song. It'll be our follow up single for the EP later in the year. We'll both be working on our solo EPs, but will make a collaborative song. We'll keep working together.

This Pale Fire: It's still quite early in the collaboration and we're developing a style. We'll work on that and then get new material out.

Cymbol 303 & This Pale Fire

EP Release Show @ Dance Yrself Clean
Also featuring Dean Campbell
Tyler Street Garage - 8PM till late - Sat 25 July
Entry: FREE

The Cycle can be downloaded for free for a limited time via