The Kays Lavelle – Interview

Kommenden Montag veröffentlichen The Kays Lavelle aus Edinburgh ihr Debüt-Album „Be Still This Gentle Morning“, mit dem sich die Sechs nun endlich auch über ihre Heimat einen Namen machen. Am vergangenen Wochenende spielten sie gleich zwei Album-Release-Gigs, um das Album zu feiern. Wie das lief und, was man vom ersten Longplayer der Band erwarten kann, erläuterte uns Frontmann Euan McMeeken in einem kleinen Interview.

Would you mind introducing yourself and the band?

My name is Euan McMeeken and I am the singer/piano player in The Kays Lavelle. We are an Edinburgh based 6 piece. The other band members are Graeme Anderson on guitar/banjo; Chris Alderson on electric guitar; Michael Lambert on bass; Chris Lee-Marr on drums and percussion and Russell Kostulin on violin/viola.

Your debut album “Be Still This Gentle Morning” will be released in two weeks. How did you come up with the title and what does it mean to you?

The album title, along with a number of the songs on the record, was inspired by a morning I spent alone on Portobello beach, near my home in Edinburgh. It was very early in the morning and it was one of the most peaceful days you can imagine. The water was still and it felt like nobody was awake a part from me. It was so silent. It was just me and the world and it was the most beautiful, calm feeling. It means a lot to me because it was just one of those moments I’ll never forget.

You played two record release shows now. What were the reactions like?

The shows were amazing. Glasgow was really great, but Edinburgh was one of my favourite gigs we have ever done. It was really busy and a bit intimidating, given some of the people who were in attendance. We had such a good time though and I think the reaction was positive overall. It’s hard to gauge at the moment as we’ve only had a couple of reviews for the record. I also try not to worry too much about these things as I am extremely proud of the record we’ve produced. If people like it then they like it. If they don’t like it, then that’s ok. Obviously the music press can have an influence on whether people choose to buy a record, but ultimately it’s just one person’s opinion and I don’t doubt that people are more than capable of making up their own minds on whether they like something or not. I hope people like it, but I won’t lose sleep worrying about those who don’t. I think it’s a very good debut record.

Is there something of a main theme to the record?

Well it’s ultimately about society I guess. There are a lot of personal moments on it but it tends to be more observational. I guess the underlying theme is that of hope. I think if you listen to the words there’s a huge degree of hopefulness and positivity there.

I’m also under the impression most of the songs tell stories from a rather objective point of view. Are you trying to avoid too much subjectivity?

I guess so. As I mentioned, a lot of the record is observational. So it’s not necessarily specific to me. However, there are a few songs on there such as ‘Thinking of Strangers’ and ‘The Life and Death of a Moment,’ which are very personal. And ‘Scars from the City’ is as close to a love song as I’ve ever written, without actually being about a woman.

How would you describe the mood of the record? What can people expect from it?

I think there’s a nice mix on the record. Somebody recently described it as midnight music and I love that. It definitely
should be listened to with the lights down low and a glass of red wine. I do think it’s one of those records that will require the listener to be in the right place and mindset but if/when they are I think it will be very rewarding. It’s sparse at times but there’s a lot going on, if that makes sense?!

On the last song “Portobello Sands” you are speaking instead of singing, why is that? Did you name the song after the caostal town? If so, again, why?

Well I’d written the words before the music, which is not something I normally do, and I loved the words. I tried to add music myself but didn’t like anything I came up with. Our drummer Chris added some atmospheric bells and backing music to it but when Fraser (Small Town Boredom) did the vocal he sent me both the version with the music backing and one with just his voice. Graeme and I immediately loved his voice on its own. It feels like somebody dictating their thoughts or leaving a message for somebody on their answer phone. It completes the record in my head and had to be on the album, at the end. And yes, Portobello beach is in Edinburgh. I just liked the word sands better than beach.

You gave your two singles “The Hours” and “Ten Times” away for free. Why did you choose to? Do you think it helped to get people’s attention?

I guess that was the main reason. What you have to remember is that we’ve been pretty well under the radar until now, and on a grander scale we still are. We’ve not had the media attention others have received as we’ve not had anything to promote or release. All this is new to us so we saw no harm in giving away free download singles to try and help get us a bit of attention. I think it’s a nice gesture and I think it worked. I guess time will tell.

You recorded “Be Still This Gentle Morning” with Neil Pennycook of Meursault. How did you get together?

Neil and I were friends before we started working together. Back in 2008 I was desperate to start work on the record but couldn’t afford the options on the table. One night, after a gig we did together, he said he’d do it for us and that was that. It was great working with him as I am a massive fan of his music and I learned a lot from the process.

The album leaked good three weeks ago. How did you feel about it? Have you already got any reactions from people who learned about your band this way?

I felt a little upset to begin with, simply because the album had not been released and I felt that nobody had the right to put it out there other than ourselves. However, putting it in perspective, it has definitely helped get us out there to people who would otherwise probably not have taken a gamble on us. And yes, I’ve had contact from people who have downloaded the record and who have spread the word to their friends. I don’t view illegal downloading as completely negative at all and I am not so hypocritical as to judge those who use those sites. I also remain hopeful that those who truly love the record will want to own a physical copy too. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

You run your own record label „mini50“ now, how is this going? Are there any releases planned yet?

Yes, we have two albums planned for release in 2010. The first is the debut album by Mammoeth entitled ‘Nascent’. Russell is the violin player in the Kays but has produced a stunning piece of pop music, which I think will be very well received. The second record is a joint release with Leeds label Gizeh Records and is the debut album from Conquering Animal Sound. Very different from Mammoeth in sound and tone, but equally brilliant. So it’s an exciting start to the label’s roster. I feel very lucky to have these artists onboard.


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