After watching their set at Peddlers, Sheffield, I was more than keen to get in touch with the Birmingham-based, alternative indie-pop three-piece, KIN. Over a thankfully not-so-glitchy Zoom call, I got to speak to two members of the band (Grace, vocalist, and Adam, guitarist). They have recently released their fourth single ‘The Runaways’: KIN – The Runaways (Official Video) available on all your fave platforms.
I saw that you did a gig a while ago at Colours in Hoxton, how did it go?
Grace: Really good! Although I was so ill. We’d planned this gig a while ago, and it was organised by Charlie Ashcroft who is a DJ on Amazing Radio and he’s a bit of a trendsetter, so it was a pretty big deal for us. It was our first gig back with Ritu, and I came down with this horrendous winter cold, but we powered through. Vapor rub, nasal spray, vocal zone, honey tea, just through it all in, and luckily it went really well.
For anyone that hasn’t heard of your music how would you describe your sound?
Adam: Ambient indie-pop, I think. What would you say, Grace?
Grace: I feel like selling music these days is so difficult because there are so many crossovers of genres yet artists are so expected to put themselves in a box. Whenever you’re selling yourself for Press Releases, or Spotify, it’s like who are you, what do you sound like? We can say alternative indie-pop, but actually, it’s such a broad spectrum so it’s easier to say these are artists who we’re inspired by. For us it’s a lot of female-led stuff, The Cocteau Twins, Daughter, we really like Warpaint, as well as more classic indie, like Foals. Upbeat, driven, guitar stuff. There’s definitely a pop structure to our songs, but we do like to push ourselves in terms of the range of sounds a trio can make.
Adam: There’s a lot of stuff going on to make our sound big as a three-piece. So that’s what we try to do, create a big wall of sound that feels like there are more people on stage than there is.
Who is the biggest jokester of the band?
Adam: Probably Ritu.
Grace: Ritu is pretty funny. She’s got a bit of a trickster mind. She was even saying yesterday what kind of things can we do on stage….and I thought we’ll have fun for a minute then get told off. I’m kind of the Mum in the band, Ritu has a really fun, quirky edge to her.
How do you approach songwriting as a group?
Grace: It’s very collaborative, and it always has been in our process. We all write our parts, I’ll write the vocal melodies, Adam, the guitar, Ritu, the drum parts. It’s been interesting to see how our process has changed over the pandemic year as well because we’ve had to adapt. Before that, there was a lot of just getting in a room and jamming stuff. I always have a rolling list on my phone of lyrics. Most of the time structurally it happens outside of the rehearsal space. I personally like the time we get to play in a room and see what happens.
Putting you on the spot just a tad here but if each of you had to choose a desert island disc, that being an album, what would you choose?
Grace: It’s got to be something you can listen all the way through and don’t get bored of.
Adam: My first thought was maybe some Pink Floyd but I don’t know if that’s a bit too dark and would maybe send me slightly insane… I’ll just go feel good. One of Lizzo’s albums, you can cry, you can dance.
Grace: I think I would go with Wild Beasts’ third studio album ‘Smother’. They have two amazing lead vocalists, one has this real baritone voice, and the other alto and they work so well together. The lyrics are very poetic too.
Can you tell us about any new releases or projects on the horizon?
Grace: ‘The Runaways’ is coming out on the 5th November [out now, check the link above]. We’re treating it as a comeback single because we haven’t released anything in almost a year. Last year we released three singles, our first releases, then it took us a while to do more songs. This track has been a long process. We had to record songs one in one out because of the pandemic. We ended up with a great producer called Josh Tyrrell. After that we’ll be releasing another single in January. We’ve got a four-track EP that we’re going to work on with Josh which will be out next year. We’re so excited to be back together as a band and be gigging again.
According to your Spotify, you’ve got some recording at Abbey Road coming up. Is that still happening?
Grace: The two tracks, The Runaways, and the other single we’re going to release, we started by recording them at Abbey Road and we recorded a bit at Studio 13, Damian Albarn’s studio. It was an amazing experience, but weird because it was properly pandemic time. Adam went in first and recorded guitar on his own.
Adam: I just had a click track. It was a really good test; you’ve got to really count. But it took a bit longer. When everything was recorded so remotely, so individually, it lost its heart, so actually going back into Studio 13 together was great.
Grace: I ended up recording the vocals three times. It was pretty ridiculous! Adam came up with some of the guitar riffs on the spot at the studio in the end, and they’ve transformed the songs. That wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have that extra time to be together.
Do you have any pre-stage nerves, tips, or rituals that you do as a band?
Grace: I don’t really get nervous anymore. At our first ever gig I was so nervous but now it doesn’t faze me. In a way, it’s a good thing because I can just enjoy, the minute we get on to the moment we finish. We played Tramlines earlier this year and I really felt that. That was the biggest stage we’d ever played and it was our first festival. If I was going to be nervous it would have been me at a home gig with my Mum at the side, and I had this moment of anxiety as I was walking up the steps but then I thought, no you’re fine, you don’t want it to be a blink and you’ll miss it moment. Your thirty-minute set goes like that. But… if we have a chance, our pre-gig ritual, set from our first gig, is to have a shot of Archers Peach Schnapps. We were all petrified and decided to have some because it’s so delicious and the bar had it so we all had a shot. A little hit of alcohol, a little bit of sugar, it’s the perfect thing. If we get to a point where we have our own rider, it’ll be a bottle of Schnapps on the tour bus.
Adam: We should be the face of Schnapps. My main thing is a positive affirmation of each other constantly. You see someone looking nervous and you say, hey, you’ve got this.
Grace: Also, people are on your side even if they’ve never seen you before. It’s easy to forget that. What’s the worst that’s going to go wrong, your voice cracks, or I forget the words, a guitar string goes, but that’s the point of liveness, that’s what makes the live performance so beautiful, the audience will go with you. Unless you’re really bad, there’s not much that can go so wrong.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
Grace: Just one?! I think there are quite a few problems, as much as I respect a lot of it. There’s a lot that makes it quite inaccessible for underprivileged people and for quite a lot of people, to be honest. It’s a big commercial business, without money, no matter how good your music is, it’s difficult to put yourself out there which then encourages a lot of privilege and wealthier people who are doing really well, and that’s not to detract from the fact that they’re good but if they know the right people, they can pay their way a little bit, they’re fast-tracking their trajectory which is unfair. Unless you can pay to go to a recording studio yourself, or you get lucky with a funding application (but they’re so oversaturated), it’s difficult to get your music made. The way that people pay interest now is that you have to have already started to have records out there with lots of streaming, to be gigging, to have articles written about you. A lot of people that are doing well are the people that can afford to increase that interest from the get-go. Also, there are so many amazing female artists out there, but Leeds and Reading this year had hardly any female artists. They can certainly do better.
Adam: It’s so easy for festivals to make excuses, but the quality of the bill goes up if you diversify your lineup. If you have more women, more people from diverse backgrounds, it’s more accessible for people. If you go to a Wolf Alice show then suddenly there are more women in the audience. Big festivals, especially Leeds and Reading, still have male-heavy lineups. There’s no excuse for it because there’s so much good music out there, it’s not difficult to have a really diverse lineup.
Grace: Also having two females in the band, and my Mum’s Indian, Ritu is an Indian woman as well, and she is really behind getting more Asian representation in music because it’s just not seen. It’s so important, particularly as a drummer for her, to see an Asian woman playing the drums because it’s very rare. There’s not much representation. At a young age if you were looking at all of these lineups and bands and aspiring to be like that you would feel it was more acceptable to do that if you could see those role models.
Adam: We try to build communities of like-minded musicians. But there are big bands that are on those bills that have power in that situation but don’t say anything. And the people that own most labels, the cream of the crop, are largely old middle-aged white dudes.
Is there anything you turn to outside of music, perhaps other artistic mediums, for instance, that enhances your musicality?
Adam: Interesting question! We’re all actors, it’s how we met actually, and I think that is a medium that lends itself well to other art forms.
Grace: I am a founder of a theatre collective, Klein Blue. So the narrative is naturally really important to me. I write a lot and find inspiration in so many things. We also make our own music videos ourselves so planning music videos is another source of inspiration for us.
Adam: Also, just listening to other artists and going to gigs helps!
Final question, what do you feel is the best song you’ve released and why?
Grace: For me, it has to be Sharing Light, there’s something so nostalgic and timeless to its sound.
Adam: The same for me too. Grace is a great lyricist and the lyrics in Sharing Light are really strong too.
Do you have any upcoming gigs?
Adam: We have one final gig this year and we can’t wait to play this one. It’s the 16th December 2021 at @theamershamarmsofficial for @kickoutthe_jams with @hourglvssmusic, @haddabeband, @_johnparry
Tickets are available HERE
We’ll see you there!
KIN have a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon, so keep your eyes and ears peeled, as they say.
Images curtsey of Kin social media.