Thursday 10 March 2011

Kites [Interview]

Several months ago, I was contacted on Soundcloud by a band called Kites. I get notifications like "DJ Suck has shared the track 'Electro Sex' with you an 1,456,908 other people" so frequently that I almost ignored it. I'm glad I didn't. Kites has a nice sound that really brings me back to my own roots in electronic... my parents' 80s cassette collection: my mom's pop, and my dad's new wave. We messaged back and forth, and got an interview set up. I'm really pleased to present to you KITES. Kites. Now that's a pretty solid name. Short, simple, strong, and somewhat lofty. What inspired this monicker?
Matthew - Our theory was that anything more than one syllable would have been gratuitous. I think that our music is lyrical enough without shoe-horning some sort of double-entendre into the name. I wanted to retain a sense of purity with name. I hope we have achieved this Richard - For the weeks prior to our first gig I was traveling around India, and back home the pressure was on to decide on a name ahead of our debut performance. Matt had been keen on the name and the guys took the plunge and told me over email. It was quite amusing for me as at the time, there were massive posters all over India advertising one of the biggest Bollywood Films of the year, called Kites. It's absolutely got nothing to do with that, but it's a terribly interesting story, you must agree.
How did this project start? What made you decide that music was the way you were going? How did you all meet up?
Richard - Having written my own music for half my life, I had wanted to be in a band for many years but never got around to it. After the end of a long-term relationship I decided, fortuitously, to answer a single advert, met up with Matthew, clicked, and the rest is history, so it was almost fateful. Matthew - It wasn’t a calculated decision. Sadly, at my local careers centre there was no option to discuss my future in the music industry. I half-heartedly entered various professions, none of which particularly resonated with me. As means of staunching the flow of discontentment, I began recording rough demos and assembling a group of musicians. These musicians were not acquaintances that I ‘press-ganged’ into joining Kites but carefully selected individuals who I felt confident would bring something unique to the band’s dynamic. The fact that we happen to get-on famously is a great relief to me. Is it permissible to feel quite self-congratulatory about this?
These days, a unique sound is everything! What would you say defines the Kites vibe? What do you feel sets you apart?
Richard - I think there is a very tangible benefit borne out of our varied musical tastes and backgrounds and I hope this is evident in the music. Matthew - I think the fact that we have such vastly disparate backgrounds has been instrumental in crafting a sound which, although humbly acknowledging its influences, is entirely fresh. It’s obviously quite difficult for us to be objective about our own music but I genuinely find it tricky to describe our sound, which is probably a good thing.
Which of your songs do you feel most embodies this?
Richard - I think every track shows and should show signs of this idea. Matthew - There’s a song which is yet to be released called ‘You Are Dead (To Me). I think it successfully marries our different characters in polygamist harmony. The sound is at once electronic and organic, melodramatic yet ordered. I suppose all our songs in some way embody our sound but, because we are always evolving, it seems appropriate to cite our latest track.
Knowing that, what is the creative process usually like for you guys? Is there a process, or does it just sorta happen? How?
Richard - There is a definite process but it's also quite flexible and I think we communicate ideas to each other well, and also aren't too sensitive or precious about the necessary critical process that may pare down or build up an initial idea into a track. Matt may come to me with a complete lyric and a melody, and we start building from there, adding and subtracting as we go, or I might have a musical idea I have been playing with and Matt will take it away and write a lyric for it. We might abandon an idea completely if it's not happening. We aren't afraid to leave film on the cutting room floor, as it were. Matthew - There are certainly processes which we have developed because they work for Kites but there is no set formula. Writing music is not like completing a psychometric test; it shouldn’t be a logical exercise although, if it were, it would make my life a damn site easier!
There are lots of things that go into inspiration. What would you consider some of your main influences (and I don't just mean other artists... events, people in your life, places, whatever)?
Matthew - People people people. Having had a peripatetic upbringing, I formed many of my early attachments, not with places, but with people. These characters populate my songs in the same way that they colour my otherwise banal existence. I should probably also mention my birth; although I have no recollection of the actual event (thank god!), I believe it must have been a fairly pivotal moment in my ‘life’. Richard - Technology, History, Electronic music’s heritage…
What does the future hold for Kites? Where do you see it going, and is there anything exciting we should be anticipating?
Matthew - Expect a very intensive tour schedule commencing in May in South America and concluding a few months later at Timbuktu. Kites want to hone their craft and take their brand of melodrama to the far-flung reaches of the universe.
Just for fun, what have you been listening to lately? Any hot tips on some great tunes for our readers?
Matthew - I’ve been listening to Jamie XX’s remix, ‘We’re New Here’ although I fear that the rest of the English speaking world has been similarly engaged. I have also been gorging myself on the latest Gold Panda record but, again, I know this is ancient history to music fans. When you spend so much time performing and writing music, it’s sometimes difficult to keep pace with the latest fads and trends. This is a poor excuse isn’t it? Richard - I’ve always been quite eclectic, in terms of electronica, but of late have been listening to a lot of Electro and Italo out of Holland, stuff from labels like Clone, Moustache or Bunker. Having said that, since our music has been featuring on various playlists, I’ve been listening to a lot more Indie Rock/Pop music as it’s interesting to see who your contemporaries are, especially for me, as I’m certainly not as clued up with the Indie scene as the rest of the band and tend to go blank if people ask me what other bands I’m into.
Assuming there's more to life than music (I know, craaazy notion!), what sort of things do you all do outside of Kites?
Richard - I enjoy reading, watching films, socialising, fairly normal behaviour, really. As the weather improves I’ll be getting back on my bike and I do like to spend summer afternoons with friends having a few drinks in the great outdoors or throwing the odd house party or BBQ. Matthew - I eat thick-cut marmalade whilst consuming vast quantities of peppermint tea and reading back issues of Punch magazine. I tell myself that such activities will keep me from the clutches of decadence but I’m clearly deluding myself.
Any closing thoughts?
Matthew - We're very excited about the release of our forthcoming track, 'You Are Dead (To Me)'. It represents another evolution in our sound whilst retaining Kites' penchant for satirical storytelling Richard - and thanks for taking an interest in what we are doing, it means a great deal.

So there you have it, guys.

And one of their older ones for kicks:


anbro93 said...

They're coming to South America? I must keep an eye on this band, if they come to my city or anywhere near I'll see them live!

Boba Fettuccini said...

If/when you do, take some videos if you can. I'd like to hear that. :D

Richard Baldwin said...

Check out Kites' on Facebook, and you'll find a few videos recorded by fans at various gigs!

The Dude Abides said...

This is like an epic bend of Depeche Mode with Tears For Fears and maybe even a little Erasure. Love it.

I want that EP.