This Is The Kit – In Conversation

Interviews "Lord knows we've played enough gigs to single figure audiences"

This Is The Kit have been in existence since the 00s, moving to Bristol to continue her musical education, before upping sticks and moving to Paris. It was here where her debut album ‘Krulle Bol’ took shape, recorded and produced by PJ Harvey’s long-standing musical collaborator John Parish. Her second album, 2010’s ‘Wriggle Out The Restless’ was made in France alongside members of Francois and the Atlas Mountains before final touches from TITK’s extended musical family were added in Bristol, Belgium and several points in between. The release of ‘Bashed Out’ last year was a real break through for TITK and with the band in town to play a sold out Portland Arms, we caught up with Kate Stables to discuss ‘Bashed Out’ and its success…

Kate Stables This is the kit website_0

January saw you release a new EP – tell us everything we need to know about it
Well what I’m really chuffed about is that we got to work with Sam Wisternoff for the video of Magic Spell. He did well over a thousand drawings in the making of the animation and I just love the end result. He’s a total pro and makes such great videos!

Talk us through why include 4 alternate versions of ‘Magic Spell’?
Well, ‘Bashed Out’ was made over a couple of years. We started it off in Brooklyn with Aaron and then kept working on it and recording at home in Paris and with friends in Bristol and all over the place really. And then I went back over to Brooklyn to finish the recordings off with Aaron a while later. So there’s just heaps of versions that we worked on that didn’t get picked for the album but that were definitely an important part if the journey/development of the songs and arrangements.
And some of them are versions we really like; hence having so many versions of ‘Magic Spell’ in there! Ha!

The version of ‘Cold and Got Colder’ was actually recorded on a rare day off in Paris when we were in tour with The National. I don’t know what we were thinking. Instead of getting some rest and recharging our batteries for the next leg of tour we spent the day in the studio. But I’m glad we did, as I love the Paris version of ‘Cold and Got Colder’. And I love that it features one of Jesse’s wild guitar solos!

What inspired the cover of Francois & the Atlas Mountains’ Les Plus Beaux? (It’s a lovely cover!)
For the François cover I think we first did it as he’d asked a few people to do a cover or remix of a song off his record “e volo love”.
But then we really enjoyed playing it live and so it was in our set for a wee while. And so we just wanted to include it in a release, as it’s a song that we’re really fond. Partly it’s nice to do a song in French, and also François is an important pal for us so it’s nice to make a version of one if his songs. Also, this recording is a rare one featuring our French drummer Philippe Sirop who’s just got such a nice touch to his playing and as we haven’t got many recordings with him on, it’s nice that it gets featured on the EP.

So 2015 ended in some style for you with the 6 Music Albums of the year inclusion, how did that feel?
For the Guy Garvey album of the year, well it was amazing! Guy has been really supportive over the past few years. Ever since ‘Wriggle out the Restless’ really which has been so great. I’m feeling really honoured that he likes the new album that much!

The latest album seems more popular, a bit of a breakthrough in some ways. Does it seem that way to you?
I think it is true that ‘Bashed Out’ has been a bit of a breakthrough album for us. Not necessarily in an explosive way but definitely in a notch up from our last record. We’ve been really lucky with radio play this year (I guess I mean last year?) and I think that has introduced our music to a lot of people who wouldn’t have heard us otherwise. So that’s been amazingly great.

‘Bashed Out’ seems to have really hit upon something, judging by the attention it’s received. Has the increase in popularity changed what being in a band/being a musician feels like?
It hasn’t changed what it is to be in a band really for me. It feels pretty much the same as ever. We used to play gigs and we still do play gigs. But I suppose the rooms we play are slowly getting a bit fuller which is nice. Lord knows we’ve played enough gigs to single figure audiences!

What was the hardest track on ‘Bashed Out’ to finish and why?
“We are in” was a tricky one to know how to finish off. There were a lot of attempts to work on drums. And as it’s quite a short and simple song we were wondering about ways to try and develop it a bit. But in the end we decided that simple was the way to go for that one!

Talk us through the apocalyptic references on the record
As for the apocalyptic references, well I suppose we get reminded of how crazy things can/might get all the time. And also I think the books and films I’d been getting into all seemed to lead me to a similar place in terms of images. Imagination. Books by Ursula Le Guin, Kim Stanley Robinson… A few Studii Ghibli films, things like that. At the same time it’s not always literal apocalypse I’m on about in my songs. Nothing’s that straight forward! I think people hear the word apocalypse and then assume that’s what the song is about. Not so!

We love The National (who doesn’t?!) so how was working with Aaron Dessner and what did he bring to the record?
Working with Aaron was really great. He’s quite quiet and very diplomatic. He was very tactful about suggesting things to add or to leave out. And it’s always great to see how other people work and to learn bits from them. And when you work with people on projects you get to know them in a different way. As opposed to just hanging out from time to time. It was a real privilege and educational experience.

How has being based in Paris shaped your music?
I guess living in Paris/France has shaped my musical practise and me. It’s unavoidable. Where ever you live and the people you work with there are definitely going to effect you. But as there’s no control test that can be done it’s hard to know in which ways we’re affected.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to generalise so I’ve got no “golden rule” or formula or explanatory sum up about what it’s like to be a musician in Paris. Everyone’s experience is different of course. But I have met some totally amazing people and musicians and been lucky enough to have taken part in some incredible projects.
It’s been great basically!

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
In 2016 I’m mostly looking forward to being at home with my family who I’ve hardly seen at all recently. And to finish writing the next album. I love touring but it’s been in pretty hefty doses recently and I just want to be back with my family and to get lots of quiet time to write!

Hypothetically you’re going to DJ a disco for us – what is your go to dance floor filler?
Ooh dance floor filler good question!

Well if I’m also dancing (as well as djing) then it would have to be ‘Quake Horse’ by the Precious Mings. Probably most of that album in fact. It’s chocker block full of total tunes. If you’re not familiar with their work the album’s called “every time I sell a record a kitten dies” but don’t be put off by the title, it’s a work of genius and a timeless classic!

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