After a brief hiatus, Kim Churchill returns with his much anticipated album “Weight_Falls.”
Harmonica, harmonies and heart-breakingly beautiful lyrics, Kim Churchill presents an authentic sound which truly comes alive when performed live. With a talent for cutting up any sound and incorporating it into a tune, Kim creates atmospheric anthems with just his loops and two drummers.
We caught up with Kim before his show in Bristol who confesses his love for M&S and talks about life on the road.
You released your latest album, ‘Weight_Falls’ earlier this year, how have you found touring it compared to your previous album, ‘Silence/Win’?
It’s been amazing – I think I feel for the first time in my career I’ve actually got my shit sorted out before the album came out which was really nice! I think in the past I’ve recorded an album, booked the dates and gone straight on tour and then been like “ok, I need to figure out how to play these songs live”. If I’m going to place these really new songs with really solid old tracks that have done me proud on stage every night for years, are they good enough? In the past I’d never done that so I was getting rid of songs that went down really really well and putting in these new ones that I wasn’t really good at playing so this time we got the two drummers and we practiced a bunch and kinda got the whole show up and running before the album came out! So it’s good! We’re able to have a beer and mess about a bit and chill out on the road because we know we’ve done the work to get it up and running! It’s also a lot more fun because it removes an element of stress – so it’s a pleasure!
Still fresh from your Australian tour and you’re touring again in January in Canada and Australia again – how do you find life on the road?
Good! Life on the road is good! It can be challenging and it’s kinda exhausting. I like touring England because the drives aren’t too big and you’ve got M&S on the highways so you can get a salad and a punnet of blueberries and a smoothie in 10 minutes while the tour manager stops for petrol or something. In general, you’re normally doing something between a 16 and a 24-hour day with something between 4 and 8-hour sleep so it does get quite exhausting! But it also pushes you as a human to be brilliant and really strong and come up with the energy and the passion that you need for the show every night even when you’re tired. I think that involves a certain amount of self-discipline which is refreshing and actually really good for a person so if you try to party a lot on the road you do end up pretty exhausted. I’ve found that after a few months of partying a lot on the roads I’ve just been hanging ha ha. But I love it and I tour a lot and enjoy the travel and it’s inspiring for my art so it kinda works cyclically.
What would you say like and dislike the most about being on tour?
Ok the thing I like most about being on tour is probably the people – the constant stream of people you meet, you play to and there’s always a lot of laughter and you have a lot of fun and you form these incredible bonds with the people you’re on tour with and you get to see all the people you love around the world so it’s very much for me an interaction thing with all the people I get to meet and play to. The thing I think I hate the most about being on the road is that there is absolutely no concept of routine. That can be quite unsettling – you never know what you’re gonna get and when you’re gonna get it and that can be tough. You sort of feel like you’re a bag in the wind! But that’s a worthy trade for the rest of it.
Do you have any quirky pre-show rituals?
I have a rock in my pocket at all times! So I guess that’s a bit odd. The rock is from a beach in Australia called Angourie – I just find it incredibly calming. It’s crazy, you get there and your whole energy level just drops so it’s just a little piece of that. I have a little notebook that I write things that I’m grateful for and things that I’m hopeful for – that’s good to do before a show because it puts you in a good headspace. You’ve got to go on stage in a good headspace otherwise you’re just going up there to give the people a load of your crap ha ha! But other than that, no nothing that quirky!
So this album is a take 2 of it isn’t it – you had it finished and then scrapped it and re-wrote it in a week and a half, what made you decide to do that?
Well I think it was like if you lie to yourself for a certain amount of time you kind of create this enormous barricade of truth and it’s coming at all angles and I think eventually it hits you really really hard. For me, I’d been telling myself about this material that I’d been working on was what I needed to be doing and if I did enough work and put enough energy and passion and enough of myself into them I could get them there. Then 18 months into the process, mix 27 I re-wrote the lyrics and re-recorded the thing 2 or 3 times probably but all of that truth came cascading down and it just wasn’t what I wanted and no matter how long I did this it wasn’t going to get me the results so the moment that happened, the entirety of the situation realised itself to me and I just needed to write a new album and do it quickly and not think about it too much. The opposite of what I’d just done. There were also some strategical and logical reasons for doing it so quickly because I had a lot of record labels all over the world – and they were happy with the album, everyone was happy with it so when I canned it I kind of knew everyone was going to think I pretty much was having some kind of mental breakdown so I just said “No no no I’ll have you another album in a week”. It was inspiring and it was motivating and it was exactly the kind of exciting brilliant manoeuvre the labels needed to remain interested so yeah there were a lot of reasons!
Well you’ve ended up with a beautiful album!
Ha ha thank you! It’s funny – so I woke up really early the next morning just thinking about everything I wanted to do and all these kind of ideas I’d already had and by 06:45 it was done! And I think going back to that point when you hide yourself from the truth for so long and when it finally comes crashing back down on you, you have this wonderful, undiluted solid hit of honesty. Then for about a week I felt like I could really communicate how I was feeling and I think that helped the music a lot.
How would you say the process of creating this album differed to your previous ones?
I would consider the entirety of the first attempt of this album as part of the process so that’s never happened before!
And hopefully not again
Ha ha yeah! It was quite exhausting emotionally so I guess in that sense in the past I’ve always been more of a live performer and I would be kind of forcing myself to take time off the road to record the album so I wouldn’t give myself very long. I’d give myself like 3 weeks in the studio and I’d be trying to prepare everything on the road and going into the studio with not much of an idea of what I was going to do. I’d bash something out and go straight back on the road on tour afterwards. So with this one I’ve taken 2 and a half years off to try and get it right was a very different approach. I think there might be somewhere in the middle that might be quite comfortable for future!
You co-wrote Second Hand Car with Nick Hodgson how did you find that process and is it something you’d be open to in the future?
Yeah! I do a lot of it. It’s very rare that a song comes out of it – I mean a song always comes out of it but it’s usually a weird semi-alive Frankenstein song that you haven’t quite got life into because it’s usually 2 people who have never met and in a few hours are going to have just laid their entire soul on the table and come up with this piece of music. But Nick came into my life at the perfect moment, it was right around the time that I was working on that other album and I was so serious. I’d just become really heavy and steeped in my own stupid metaphors and Nick was hilarious – he was just so light and fun and you know the Kaiser Chiefs stuff is really having a laugh you know and we got in and he was like “What do you want to write a song about?” And I didn’t know so he said he wanted to write a song about a second hand car and I just thought “fucking hell that sounds like a really dumb idea”. But I went with it and he was just such a happy dude and he had this wonderful sense of levity that changed my life to be honest. It reconnected me with just how much fun life is meant to be – it’s meant to happen in this state of play and not in this serious what you have to do stuff! So it was really life changing working with Nick and I do a lot of co-writing as it’s good and sometimes the other person takes the song and sometimes you take it but a lot of the time you don’t get a song but you learn something.
I guess you have someone to bounce off
Yeah the process of song-writing is so enigmatic and obscure everyone is wondering around with a blindfold on and if you can hold hands with somebody for a couple of hours and find a way together it helps you a lot in terms of learning how to navigate.
I read that you produced this album and due to not having a bass you created this sound that had a “Bristol trip-hop” vibe – I’m just wondering do you find this city inspiring or was it just a happy coincidence?
I do yeah! The whole Bristol beats movement hit me really hard probably about 4 years ago. I had a sound guy on the road who was from Bristol and I really got into that kind of music and I obviously didn’t feel like that had any relevance to what I was doing. That was another great thing from the Nick Hodgson session was that the song was so unlike me but the only thing that needed to be broken down was the concept of what I was. It was kind of an ego thing so then I realised I can do whatever I want with my music and when I was demoing the songs I got Garage Band which I’d never used before and I didn’t have a bass guitar or anything so I was just playing off this deep bass synth sounds, really shitty sounds that garage band have and just playing with them and trying to make them my own. I then took all of those demoes that I’d made with garage band to a producer and the two of us recreated them in a full sense.
I noticed that you tend to play barefoot a lot of the time – is there a reason for that?
Yeah it’s kind of a lame one too! It’s because of my pedal board – I do a lot of things with the effects pedals so I need my toes! People think it’s some deep spiritual thing but I sort of guess as well I mean I could learn to do it without, but it’s hard to get to the exact nob I need to turn. I get really hot on stage too and there is something nice about being barefoot, something a bit grounding about it
Is there a song that you particularly enjoy playing live or a venue that you’re excited to play at?
I would love to do Royal Albert Hall! Far out that would be incredible even if it was just as support for someone. And it terms of a song, I really like playing a track off the new album called The Border – it’s quite a bass heavy one and there’s quite a lot of this cut up percussion sound that I made on the desk in my bedroom that we’d run from garage band into the producer’s kind of world onto the album and then cut up and put onto an S.P.D. I really like playing it live and there’s a lot of harmonies – me and the boys do these three-part harmonies and that’s probably my favourite at the moment!
What would you say is the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen on the road?
I mean there’s hundreds of very odd things that I’ve seen. I’ll tell you what I’ll tell you this one. Myself and this chap on the plane got up to wee at the same time 4 times. It was outrageous – we could have been 20 seconds apart and completely of missed each other!
Did he realise as well?
Yeah yeah by the third time we were like this is ridiculous! By the fourth time we were like “Are you kidding me!”
Who’s on your tour playlist at the moment?
Right now, I really like Maggie Rogers, bit of a sucker for Maggie Rogers at the moment. Beck’s new album is great and I really like Alt-J’s new album, I’m a huge fan but it took me a while to get into them. Recently I’ve been going back to some stuff like the Glass Animals album and there’s this Irish singer-songwriter band called Villagers I just love him – Conor J. O’Brien. You know what, the new Coldplay EP! I’d give or take the single but the other 4 songs are really really good and the stuff of Coldplay that I love! And Mac Demarco I’ve been going back to him a lot recently and there’s this new American group called Lewis del Mar.
Can we expect to see you over here next summer for festival season? Or is it too early to say…
Possibly…it is a little too early to say but I’m in a bit of an interesting place about whether to play at festivals because I think especially with this album we’ve really had to create this little world that really suits the music and I was definitely considering festivals when I was building into the live version of the album and putting the live production together but as we’ve been doing these shows I’ve really liked playing my own shows where I have complete artistic control so I think for us we will definitely come back in the summer and play shows and I think that if we can recreate the right situation at the right festivals then I’ll be into it. I think that will be the angle we play – as I have done festivals all over the world for 4 or 5 years and I’ve done them all now. I think if we’re going to come back then I would want to do it on my terms…and if not that’s fine, I’ll do my own show ha ha!