By Poppy Tohill
With a new album 'Kitty Daisy & Lewis The Third,' an upcoming New Zealand tour and a busy touring schedule ahead, I caught up with Kitty(of Kitty Daisy & Lewis) for a quick chat about what our favourite London based 'shock n rollers' have been up to recently.
For people who aren't super familiar with your backstory, it sounds like you had a pretty incredible and musical upbringing. Would you mind just quickly filling us in a little on what it was like?
We grew up in Kentish Town, London, which is in the borough of Camden, famous for its markets and music venues. There was always music in our house, whether it be mum playing records while she cooked dinner or dad paying guitar and singing to us as kids.
We had quite a few instruments lying around, a piano, a banjo, a couple of guitars and other bits and bobs. We would just pick them up and mess around and eventually taught ourselves to play. We would have heaps of fun just jamming together. Our first gig was in a pub in Camden, I was on drums and Lewis on banjo. Daisy joined in the next time with an accordion. 15 years later here we are travelling the world playing music, it's amazing.
How would you best describe your sound and what can we expect from your upcoming live shows here in New Zealand?
There's blues, ska, jazz, funk, R&B, disco, rock and roll. It's a big mish mash of everything really, 'shock n roll' we call it. We'll be playing mainly songs from our current record when we come your way. Expect jumpsuits, rock and roll and lots of swapping around on stage!
What was it that made you all gravitate towards this eclectic, country-jazz-blues sound?
Our dad comes from a big family in India and he would sing a play with his brothers and sisters too, like in the old days when people used to gather around a piano and have a sing song. They used to sing all kinds of stuff and we were exposed to it as kids and would all join in, it was fun. As a child I never thought about music in terms of genres, it was just music.
You've got a pretty busy touring schedule lined up for the next 6 months, which city are you most looking forward to visiting on your upcoming tour and what are you particularly looking forward to about making your way back to NZ?
I'm really looking forward to going back to Japan, Tokyo and Osaka, we all love it there. We haven't been back to NZ in ages so I can't wait! It's a beautiful country with some great little bars and venues, sometimes I wish we had more time to explore.
How would you say your sound has evolved since the release of 'Smoking In Heaven' to now with the release of 'Kitty Daisy & Lewis The Third?'
Well it's been four years so we've all gotten older and our song writing has developed. We've all been through relationships and break-ups in that time so had a lot to write about! You're always learning new things musically as well, my playing has certainly improved.
Were there any major differences in the writing and recording process of 'Kitty Daisy & Lewis The Third' in comparison to your previous records?
Yes. We spent 3 years converting a derelict Indian restaurant into a studio to record the new album. So we had a much bigger space to work in, previously we were recording in the back room of our mum's house. We wanted a bigger sound, so we would all play in the room together then just keep the drums and over-dub everything else on top. We also had a string section for the first time which was incredible, and a horn section too. We used a 16 track tape machine (whereas before we used 8 track) which enabled us to experiment a bit more and add new things into the mix. It was hard work, but a lot of fun.
Was there anyone or anything musically that inspired you at the time when working on the new record?
We had a producer for the first time, Mick Jones (The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite etc.) who rehearsed with us for a few months prior to recording. He would bring his guitar and his note book and learnt the songs inside out. He didn't try and change anything, he just wanted us to capture what was going on in rehearsals and put it down on tape. It was really handy having an extra pair of ears in the studio and he was very enthusiastic about everything. Usually it's just the five of us in a room shouting at each other. But he brought good vibes.
Is there a track on the record that you think sums up the whole album, or one song that you're most proud of?
I don't think there's one that sums up the whole album as they're all so different. But I'm quite proud of 'I Should Have Known'. It's a track that my mum wrote which Daisy and I both sing. It's the only track on the album where we are all just in the room jamming, it's not on the CD but it's on the vinyl.
You spend a good part of each year touring, do you ever tire of this and what do you prefer more - the touring and performing live or writing and recording in the studio?
I love touring, I love the fact that I've gotten to see so much of the world already. I like recording and making music, but there's nothing like being on stage and having fun and being able to improvise. And seeing an audience enjoying our music is always such a pleasure.
Following your extensive world tour, what is next for Kitty Daisy & Lewis, musically?
Hopefully when the tour winds down after February we'll have time to get back in the studio and start work on the next album. We haven't been working on any new stuff together yet but we're all writing our own things separately here and there so I'm excited to see what we all come up with!
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis
Tuesday July 28th: Allen St, Christchurch - Tickets via Under The Radar
Wednesday July 29th: Bodega, Wellington - Tickets via Under The Radar
Thursday July 30th: The Powerstation, Auckland - Tickets via Event Ticketing