As local music scenes go, our local city of Brighton has always produced a broad selection of bands in large numbers. Hundreds are thought to be operating at any one moment, in what is a relatively small city. Every now and again, we come across a band that shines slightly brighter than all of the others and with :Kinema: you get a blinding glow that’s packed with exciting potential.
On Monday 14th February they are due to release the new EP, ‘My Beautiful Machines‘, on the Hot Pockets label. They were kind enough to hand us an exclusive track from that EP to give away to our lucky readers. You can find the twinkling tune, ‘I Love Your Beam‘, listed at the end of this post. In response, The Recommender got in touch with the lead singer, Dom Ashton, to arrange the following Q & A. We found him gearing up for what should be the biggest year yet for a band all set for take off…
THE RECOMMENDER: Let’s start at the beginning… Please name each member of the band and who plays which instrument?
DOM ASHTON: Dom sings, Andy plays guitar, Ross plays a keytar and we have a new member, Louis, on keyboard.
TR: How did you meet? When did you start?
DA: We’ve been playing together for a couple of years now, though the first of those is a bit blurry. The work ethic we have now wasn’t always present in the beginning and Brighton is often a difficult town to be productive in – if you know what I mean.
:KINEMA: – WOLF MOON
TR: We love the band name :Kinema:, so how did you select the moniker? What’s with the colons at either end? Does it frustrate you if you see the colons misplaced or missing entirely in any editorial you receive?
DA: Well, in the village where I grew up there is an old 1920s cinema called The Kinema In The Woods. Its actually a very special place for me because its where I lost my virginity! Unfortunately when it came to registering the band name there was already a Kinema, (I believe he makes kind of world/chill-out music, if that is your thing), but I really didn’t want to change our name, so we put colons either side of it in order to get it registered. I realise now that this is often a huge pain in the ass for sub-editors everywhere and I apologize to them all for that, but, yes, it annoys me hugely when people miss them off because I don’t want people to get us confused with the other Kinema. I realise that this is largely my own doing though and with hindsight I’d have changed our name to something more search-engine-friendly.
TR: How do you separate out the song-writing process? Do you collaborate all at once, or does one of you lead with the ideas?
DA: We are very technology-orientated as a band so there is no getting together in a rehearsal space and ‘jamming it out’ or any other Rock cliches like that involved in how we do things. I will usually sketch a song out in my bedroom studio and then send it to Andy and Ross. Obviously, we all do different things live, but essentially all three of us just work on songs as producers – it’s not like one of us is playing the guitar, one is playing the keyboard etc. It’s the ideas that are important to us and who is playing them is kind of irrelevant in the studio. It always amuses me though, when I send a song to those guys, how Ross’ suggestions are always very focused on detail and full of technical language, whereas Andy is usually more concerned with the big picture and makes very arty statements about the entire arrangements and how they need to be “opened up” or at which points they need to “come out of their shell”. Its great to have those two viewpoints working in tandem because they are equally important. If they are both happy then I know we’ve got something good.
TR: You seem to play a lot of shows, particularly on our busy local gig circuit in Brighton, so how often do you play? Your performances are consistently enthusiastic, so how do you commit the same energy to each gig? Also, do you have a favourite venue that you like to play in Brighton?
DA: I can’t speak for the others but personally I am a disgraceful egotist and love peoples attention so its very easy for me to be enthusiastic at our shows, as long as everyone is looking at the stage anyway. I don’t think there are many places in Brighton that we don’t like to be honest. There is so much competition between venues here that they all have to make sure they’re on their game. Even a lot of the smaller venues have really good sound, which is important to us. I particularly like playing at Audio because you are so close to a lot of the crowd (because the room is wide rather than long) but there is nowhere that we have played and thought ‘never again’.
:KINEMA: – CIRCLES
TR: We loved having you to play at one of our Recommender shows last year, so we hope to get you back for another in 2011, but what’s been your favourite show to date? What support slots have you had the chance to play so far?
DA: Shows are good for different reasons. In terms of playing to large numbers and the crowd really going wild our best shows have been in London. We had stage invasions that got a bit out of hand a couple of times at places like Proud and 93 Feet East, but that’s not to say that some of the Brighton shows haven’t been great for different reasons. There aren’t too many bands that sound like us down here so we’ve been lucky to get some really good support slots – Little Dragon, Tanlines, Jimmy Edgar, Delorean, Fenech-Soler and other bands in those kind of moulds. Often those shows haven’t been sell-outs like they would be in London but it has been great for us to play with so many established bands.
TR: Have you had a chance to hit the festival circuits in the UK yet?
DA: We only did one festival last year actually but hopefully there will be a few more this year. It’s definitely something we are keen to do but this year may again be problematic if we are writing the album in the summertime.
TR: You’re signed to the independent label, Hot Pockets, so how did that come about?
DA: Hot Pockets first ever release was actually a 7″ cover of Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’ by an electronic artist called Line (he has an album out on Uncharted Audio which is very lovely). As it happens, Line is an old friend of mine from Nottingham and it was he who told the Hot Pockets chaps to check us out. Not long after we went up to do a show of theirs at Cargo in London; we all immediately fell in love with each other and one day I’m sure someone will make a charming, low-budget indie bromance film about it.
:KINEMA: – LETS GET TO IT
TR: Alongside The Recommender, other excellent sites, such as Sheena Beaston and Slutty Fringe seem to have been on top of you for a while now, so do you actively embrace the blog community and consider them useful?
DA: Crikey, the idea of having the Slutty Fringe chaps and Sheena Beaston on top of us is really quite wonderful. Scary, obviously, but in a good way. Seriously though, like I mentioned earlier, we are into technology, we’re real internet geeks and we were fans of a lot of music blogs before :kinema: were even putting records out and getting written about by bloggers. Essentially I think there are two types of music fans. This may be unfair but I think the majority of people follow music until they reach a certain age (which is often not very old) and then, for whatever reason, just stop. Its not like they become less passionate about music its just that maybe they put a lot of time and effort into other things and they stop seeking it out. They are the kind of people that, for the rest of their lives, remain convinced that music reached its absolute peak when they were 19 and it couldn’t possibly get any better. If you look at youtube videos of songs from the 70s, 80s or even 90s now, most of the comments will be along the line of “Now this is PROPER music”, “They just don’t make tunes like this anymore”, or “Music these days is just shit” etc. These comments are written by the kind of music fan that has just given up really seeking new music out and the stupid comments they leave all over youtube are evidence of that. I would like to think that I’m the other kind of music fan (and I think most people that read blogs are) and that I’ll always be into new music and that i’ll always be excited by where pop culture is headed and blogs are a really essential part of that process of discovery.
TR: How did the cover of Animal Collective‘s song ‘My Girls‘ come about – did you just pick it and work on it, or was it an official re-edit?
DA: It wasn’t official. We’re really big fans of Animal Collective and I just wanted to do it to show that there isn’t necessarily such huge differences between bands as it would appear. It’s hard to explain without sounding like a real pretentious sod but ‘My Girls‘ is just a wonderfully simple pop song. Obviously Animal Collective have this dense and blurry production style which will never be to the taste of mainstream pop fans; but I wanted to show, by stripping back all the psychedelics and re-producing the song in a more clean-cut way, that generic distinctions, the things that really divide music fans into separate sub-cultures, are really just based on how the song has been produced – which is essentially just a process of clicking different buttons. The way some people responded to our version you would think that because I didn’t use so many delay effects as Animal Collective it somehow made us evil in comparison to them, which is a strange idea. Basically, when we first put it on the internet, I wanted all music fans, whether they only listened to Radio 1 or whether they only listen to breakcore/doom-metal crossover, to run out into the street and hug each other and say “you know what, this is all just sounds yeah? why don’t we all just be friends?”. That didn’t happen. Animal Collective and their publishers liked it though so that was nice for us.
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE – MY GIRLS
TR: Here at The Recommender we love remixes that seem to bring something fresh to the original tune. You seem to have understood the importance of making a remix sound fresh, so how do you approach remixing other people’s work and is there a ‘:Kinema:’ sound that you apply?
DA: I’m still working on establishing a ‘sound’ for the remixes – it’s kind of tricky because each song you remix will have a different character and I like to try and keep an element of that in there. Often though, I’ll just strip everything out but the vocal and write something new underneath.
TR: We heard on the grapevine that you are planning a remix of a Kisses tune, so can you confirm this? Which one will it be? Is it an official remix? Seems like a perfect fit for you guys – who else would you like to remix if you had the choice?
DA: I actually did the Kisses remix months ago. It is official but I’m still not quite sure how or when its being released – it will be out soon so keep checking our website. Its a disco re-work of ‘A Weekend In Brooklyn‘. Its great that we have managed to score so much remix work before we’ve even got an album out and the Kisses song is exactly the kind of thing I like working on. I don’t enjoy remixing electronic music so much – it feels like there is less point. I love making electronic disco or house tracks out of indie music because you can incorporate the sounds of the original to make something really organic sounding but still very different from the band version. I’m currently doing remixes for two American bands, Oh Minnows and Princeton and loving every second of it. If I could choose anyone to remix it wouldn’t necessarily be my favourite bands – just any song with a really strong vocal melody and lots of different layered sounds in the song for you to tinker around with.
YEASAYER – ONE (:KINEMA: REMIX)
TR: Who are your biggest influences? Name one artist that changed your life?
DA: The ‘life-changing’ album thing seems to happen to me every few months. Bad by Michael Jackson was the first album I bought as a kid and at no point in my life have I ever stopped liking it. I was first introduced to proper hip-hop via Wu-Tang’s 36 Chambers when I was about 13 (rural Lincolnshire isn’t a hip-hop hot-bed) and probably about the same time someone gave me Wowee Zowee by Pavement – in fact I still have both of those cassettes! Going to my first proper house night at The Bomb in Nottingham was incredible. Up until then I just thought dance music consisted entirely of that shite trance that would get into the charts and onto Top Of The Pops occasionally. We went to a night called Tyrant (which was later stolen by Fabric) and for the first time I heard proper House music and everything in the world suddenly made sense. But these kind of pivotal moments keep on coming – the first time I saw The Whitest Boy Alive I couldn’t quite believe how good they were. Even more recently I think the Caribou album, Swim, is an absolute classic. It has just totally changed the way I want to produce :Kinema:.
TR: You have mentioned before about honing the ‘Kinema:’ sound, even contemplating bringing in a drummer, so can we expect wholesale changes in the future? What new elements will you be introducing?
DA: We are definitely in the process of expanding our sound. Its unlikely that any of the tunes we have released so far will be on the album. If you had asked us about our plans 6 months ago we probably would have said we’d make an album of pure pop singles but we have definitely changed our minds about that – the stuff we have been working on very recently has much more ‘depth’ and we’re really excited about unveiling it but y’all are just gonna have to wait a few months. I’m not sure about a drummer. I think a lot more electronic producers need to stick to their guns more when they play live – too many of them feel pressured into getting a live drummer. It would be weird if a band recorded live drums on the album then turned up with a drum machine so I don’t know why it should be different the other way round. That being said I have really enjoyed working with live drums on some of the remixes so I wont rule it out for the future.
TR: What will be your next release? Is there a debut album written, or perhaps even recorded, and do you have a release date planned at this stage? Can you tell us what the album’s title will be?
DA: The next release is ‘My Beautiful Machines‘ EP. There is a 7″ of the original and a 12″ of amazing live-band remixes by Swedish band/production team The Drop-Out Orchestra both being released on 14th February. It will also be available as a digital download ep from itunes and all the usual places. The digital version has some bonus tracks – one of which is ‘I Love Your Beam‘. There will be one more single in the spring and then an album to follow. A lot of it is written already but it’s too early to say whether it will be a summer or autumn or even a winter release. I have a few titles under consideration. Really it should be called ‘Crises of Masculinity‘ but that would make it sound too much like a spoof heavy-metal record or something.
TR: Finally, we ask all the artists that get interviewed on The Recommender to become ‘honorary recommenders’ themselves by suggesting any new bands/artists that you would like to point out to us?
DA: Indie-wise I only just discovered Twin Shadow because we got booked to support him at Audio on 17th February. I was blown away when I checked his stuff out – great album. House-wise I’m loving this David August track right now.
:KINEMA: – I LOVE YOUR BEAM