Week fourteen and it’s time for Edinburgh six piece, The Kays Lavelle. Having initially known lead singer Euan as a fellow blogger, I was a wee bit apprehensive as to what I might make of his music. I needn’t have worried as the ‘Kays debut album, ‘Be Still This Gentle Morning’, is an absolute corker.
They make atmospheric sounds that could break the hearts of us delicate indie kids. It’s the kind of music you want to listen to in the wee hours of the morning when you’re feeling a bit emotional. I really hope that this record gets the attention that it deserves. Don’t let it pass you by.
How would you describe the music you make?
With difficulty. I always find it hard to put across how we sound without using comparisons – and I hate comparisons. I read a review recently which described us as “midnight music” and I really liked that. Let’s go with that.
How did you start out making music?
Well I’ve always played music. I started piano and guitar lessons when I was really young. I kept the piano lessons going until about age 15 but I got bored of the guitar pretty quickly. The band only really happened once I started buying cds at school and getting deeper into exploring alternative music. Graeme was a school friend but we only started playing songs together after University finished. It’s been a long process to get to the point we’re at now. Our music has always gone unnoticed so even to be answering questions for you is a very strange experience. The Kays, have been together 6 years all in. This group of 6 though for about a year now. It’s working well at the moment.
What process goes into the way you write songs?
I tend to write on my own then take all my ideas to the band, where we shape things together (same applies for Graeme’s songs). For the most part I’ll have a structure in my head but I cannot and will not take credit for how the other instruments sound or how the songs develop once we work on them as a band. Everyone contributes their own ideas and hopefully what we end up with is a group thing. I think for the next record this will be more relevant as it will be the first batch of new songs that the 6 of us have properly worked on from scratch. I cannot wait to get started.
Who are your big musical influences?
It’s hard to answer that question as I love so much music. I’d say my favourite artists are Wilco, Sparklehorse, Tom Waits, Elliott Smith, Neil Young, The National and Radiohead. However, the music that influences the music I write is more neo-classical in origin. People like Olafur Arnalds, Danny Norbury, Library Tapes, Nest, Nils Frahm and more. I like to find little piano motifs and work from there til I find a song or a song finds me.
You released your first two singles through Wise Blood Industries, is your album coming out through them as well?
Yes, the album will be coming out on Wiseblood as well. Adam has been so supportive of our music and kind enough to give us a home from which to release our music. I never really felt that The Kays fitted in Edinburgh. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where we fitted. I think, in a way, Wiseblood is a label that kind of caters for the misfits and raggy dolls of Scottish music. We’re lucky to have Adam’s support.
As you chose to give both of these singles away as free downloads, do you feel that this was necessary in order to get more exposure for the band?
It has helped I think. People are always happy to download free stuff right? The idea was Adam’s to be honest. A nice taster for people and a way to help build buzz about the record. I wouldn’t say it was necessary, but it was certainly sensible.
On a similar note, your album leaked before the release date, now that you’ve had some time to reflect upon this how do you feel?
The only thing that upset me about the leak was the betrayal of trust before we wanted it to be released. I was fully aware that it would happen once the record was released. I guess I just couldn’t understand why somebody thought they had the right to put it out there before we wanted it out there. I was annoyed because so many people have supported us over the past 2 years whilst the album was being recorded/produced and they have yet to hear the record. I wish they’d heard it first. That said, I’ve not lost sleep over any of this. I want our music to be heard and the people who are real ‘fans’ will buy the record anyway, of that I’m sure.
You are now being managed by Daydream Management (Halina and Iona from the Glasgow Podcart), how did that come about?
Well I’d become friends with the Glasgow Podcart guys as they had been supportive of Trampoline and other ventures of mine. I’d sent Halina a track called ‘December’ (which is now a solo EP track) and she loved it. Once things started to kick off I asked her if she’d be up for managing us. She said yes, and here we are. Halina and Iona bust a gut for us and we appreciate every single second of their time and effort. Graeme and I had been running everything for 6 years, so to have two people so passionate about the music and so focused on getting it out there is a massive weight off our shoulders.
As an outsider to the perceived Edinburgh scene, it does seem like a very supportive collective that has started to emerge. Does it feel like you have to start building a new fan base up from scratch now that you’re out of your Edinburgh ‘comfort zone?
Yes, Edinburgh is a great place to be a musician these days and everyone looks out for everyone else, which is lovely. However, I’ve never felt like The Kays fit with the perceived “scene” in Edinburgh so I don’t feel like we’re stepping out of our comfort zone at all. The world’s a big place and we want our music to get out there and be heard. Being based in Edinburgh is magic, but there’s a bigger picture we have our eyes on.
What can we expect to see/hear from you in 2010?
Kays wise in 2010 you’ll have the album on 17th May 2010. We’re then embarking on a UK tour in Ocotber and will probably just try to play as many shows as possible to help promote the record.
I myself will be releasing a solo EP called ‘Memorials’ through Too Many Fireworks later this year and I also have 2 other musical projects on the go as well. One is with Heidi Kuisma from We Sink Ships – it’s a music/photography piece and the other with Chantal Acda of Sleepingdog. These records may be out this year, but it may be next year before they see the light of day.
The Kays should start work on new songs later this year as well. So there’s loads on the go.
The Kays Lavelle – Feature Documentary
The Kays Lavelle’s debut album, ‘Be Still This Gentle Morning’ is out on 17th May, through Wiseblood Industries . In celebration of its imminent release, the band are playing 2 album launch night shows. The first is in Glasgow on Friday May 7th, in Stereo, then the following night (Saturday 8th) they pare playing at the Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh. Tickets are only a fiver, plus there is the added bonus of cake being on offer.
More from Lloyd at Peenko
Photo Credit: Heidi Kuisma