Although the day was very sunny, a chilly gust roamed the streets of that cradle of music and fashion, Manchester.
A whole essay could be written about the many types of genres melting together in this city and the focus today is on an artist that takes from several genres and blends them together into a good mix.
Appropriately enough, the interview is carried in a pub/café. After a quick chat outside Vintage Vinyl (the downfall of my wallet), the lovely KiN takes me to a nearby place, which, oddly enough, looks like that pub where Shaun Ryder shoots a gun at a mirror to scare off Tony Wilson (or Steve Coogan’s version of him).
It feels like a great place for an interview.
The music is moody and although it’s a one on one interview, I feel surrounded. A few dumb jokes about my mane-like hair being intimidating are my ice breaker and we have a little chat about her band and her EP, … (dot dot dot).
Sloucher: Could you tells about the name of the band, KiN?
Kin: I used to play alone and it’s a variation of my first name, basically, or something that was close to my name but wasn’t my name. I really didn’t have a band at all at the time, and the acquired people to help me do what I do, so, yeah, that’s basically where the name came from, there’s nothing further or more interesting than that(laughs). Bit rubbish really.
S: Tell us a bit about your influences?
K: Yeah, it’s hard to pin down. I got the three main ones which are Radiohead, Portishead and Bjork, but really it goes into Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, a lot of jazz, a lot of spoken folk and everything else I hear day to day. It’s a hard question to answer, but that’s some kind of pin points.
S: We don’t believe in assigning genres to a band in the site, so how could you define yourself without going into an specific genre?
K: (laughs) How do you do that? It’s really hard!(laughs)
S: (slaps self off camera, mumbles) I meant, how would you define your sound?
K: In my Myspace I put a quote I’m very proud of: light hitting the disturbed and flared hairs on the back of a scaredy cat(laughs). But it doesn’t really sound like that! (laughs).
S: Let’s about the current situation: the effects of reality tv versus musicians.
K: I find reality tv really depressing, but everyone knows what the score is with that, I think, it’s just a money machine, a lot of the time. Because a lot of the people who believe in it are horribly exploited. I guess it’s the whole fame, what’s the name? How you call it? Yeah, goals have been replaced, so fame has become a goal. So if you are not famous in what you do, then for some reason or not, you’re not successful. But in terms of music, I don’t think, really, because people still make good stuff. It’s probably saturated because everything is so available almost immediately. You can make a track and upload it, within a day, so it’s very hard to pick through the wheat and the chaff and whatnot. That’s an essay question that one (laughs).
S: It’s very expansive?
K: It’s quite massive!
S: What do you think about the album experience?
K: It’s actually the only experience I have with music. I only ever listen to the whole album, unless I have to do something halfway through. I have to listen from start to finish. If there’s a track that I don’t particularly like, then the album is kind of like (makes gurning/roaring noise) for me (laughs). I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m definitely an album girl. Whole album, please.
S: It’s a culture of singles but do you think the album is going to get embraced again?
K: That’s something I can’t really predict. I’d like to think so. There’s so many albums that are constructed so beautifully. It builds this sort of mental picture that goes beyond the album. It’s art in itself, how it all fits together, so an album can flow, like a novel, so it makes more sense to listen to an album. But I listen to single tracks too, guilty pleasures, you know?
S: Going back into that recording a track a day and uploading it, what do you think of the online community?
K: I think it’s great! I think it’s really good! You can collaborate with people really quickly, without even haven’t met them and it’s really easy to share things straight away and talk to other musicians instantly, gain feedback from stuff you just made. I think it’s brilliant.
S: Would you like to talk about how was your recent experience in the Netherlands?
K: We only went for a four show tour, which wasn’t long enough by any stretch, but it was just incredible. We felt very loved and appreciated out there by everyone we came in contact with and we had such a great time. And we been asked back, so it’s really nice. I recommend going there to anyone, really, it was great. Great sound everywhere, in every venue that we played, really attentive sound.
S: Manchester has a bit of a reputation for musicians, so what do you think right now, in this day and age, how’s everything going for musicians?
K: It’s very hard. It’s very saturated. I think probably one in every three people is a musician or has been a musician or wants to be a musician. One of my bass player’s biggest gripes actually is popular music students (laughs) they put together a band because they have to, for the sake of their course. And then when you are approaching promoters to get a booking, you are really not taken seriously even if you are a serious band. There’s hard work involved telling them ‘look, this is what we do, we are not doing this for the sake of a thing’, so you get treated like shit by a lot of promoters. You can reword that (laughs).
K: It’s unfortunate but true. People just book you without listening to your stuff, no one bothers paying even if you put time and effort to rehearse and write these tracks perform these songs. I hate the whole “pay to play” thing in terms of ticketing. You wouldn’t tell your bar staff “you have to sell these many pints in order to get paid”. It’s just ridiculous, you know, we are providing a service, in my eye, and it takes a lot of effort. We should be more appreciated more in Manchester, cause it’s a rich scene, yeah. We sorted it out, such is life (laughs).
S: Any plans for a new album?
K: We are going to start recording as soon as possible. We have a fair few tracks lined up. I’m writing at the moment, so hopefully something will come out. That should be finished, with all hope, by, oh, this year.
S: You mentioned that you got compared unfavourably to other female fronted bands?
K: (laughs) It was the worst review I’ve read about anything or anyone. And it just said “blablablablabla, we got too many female singer-songwriters(!)”. How many male ones are there?
S: Worse: how many bearded ones?
K: It was just the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever read!
S: (laugh) Reviews, eh?
K: You get some that are over-complimentary and you are like “I’m not sure I believe that” and ones that are just damning, really damning. But the one that really pisses me off is the comparison to Karen O, that keeps cropping out in a lot of stuff. I think it’s my hair, but I really don’t get that at all. (laughs)
K:I got the first album, but I don’t listen to it much. You know? (laughs) It’s bizarre, makes no sense to me. I think it’s lazy journalism, frankly.
S:There’s a lot of lazy journalism around, like us at Sloucher!
K:(laughs) Not Sloucher, of course!
S: Last two ones. The hardest part of being unsigned?
K: For me personally is fishing for gigs. God I hate doing that. The admin crap. You want to be writing, you want to be rehearsing, you want to be working on that stuff. When you get someone else to do it, you know the process they are going through. The hardest part for me is constructing those mails, asking “please can we play?” and “please can you pay us?” (laughs).
S: Conversely, what would be the best about being unsigned?
K: I have never been signed (laughs), but I think the best part will always be performing, whether signed or unsigned. And do it every night, if we could.
S: The last question, you’ve got a couple of experimental that you’ve been pushing around on your blog, could you tell us about them?
K: Yes, sure. I have this side project, a goal I set myself at the beginning of this year, to make a track per month based on found sounds that I’ve picked up during that month. When I play KiN stuff, it’s guitar based, but I love electronica and I get frustrated with the guitar stuff now and then it’s good to balance that. It’s great fun. It’s a great discipline to have. I’d recommend it to anyone!
S: Thanks! When’s your next gig, by the way?
K: We’ve got a gig on the 7th of May, supporting the Slits at Moho Live here on Manchester.
I turn off the camera that’s been passing as a dictaphone. We continue talking about instrumental music and British comedy (‘Spaced’, ’24 hour party people’) while coffee and a fruit juice keep us going until we have to go and do some assignments.
We mosey down to Piccadilly Gardens, I ask for a picture for the interview and she hurriedly poses in front of the fountain. Felt like the perfect image for both our moods for that day, a mood perfectly shaped like the overcast skies of that chilly afternoon in Manchester.
We wave each other goodbye and I wait for my editor to call me up, as he needed to meet up and talk about some stuff for the site. “Such is life”.
Words & Photograph: Sam.
EP image and logo : KiN.
If you’d like a free song by Kin, get our mix cd, it’s free and it’s hellacool!
About the author: Sam wishes to thank Alexandra Rucki for the SMS guided tour to Manchester. “On a good day, Shaun Ryder’s poetry is on par with W.B. Yeats”.