Interview with KIN band member Grace Strickland de Souza, on the day of the release of their new single and video Wander and Lost.

Creative female-focused band KIN are keeping things rolling during lockdown. The London-based trio release the new single Wander and Lost today along with a gorgeously atmospheric video. The multi-talented band are professional actors and theatre makers, so it comes as no surprise their videos are a visual treat. And their music is cool, ambient and funky: they cite Foals as an inspiration and there’s definitely a bit of Beach House dreaminess in there too.

I was delighted to interview KIN vocalist and synth player Grace Strickland de Souza. The rest of the band is made up of Adam Collier on guitar and Ritu Arya on drums.

Hello Grace. Just to get a bit of background, how did you come together as a band?
GRACE: We formed in 2018 after Adam came to see a show I was performing in. He sat through an hour of me wearing a gorilla costume and still decided to approach me after the performance! He was looking to form a new band. We chatted about music. We got drunk. We decided it was a good idea. And then we got very lucky finding Ritu on an online musicians network who, thankfully, thought it was a good idea too!

How does the writing process come together? Was it easy for each of you to find your niche spot in the band?
The writing process is very collaborative and the three of us compose the music together. It can start from someone bringing an idea into the rehearsal room or can happen organically from us playing together. I write all the lyrics and vocal melodies but this can be inspired by the music or written separately and brought into the room too. It’s always been this easy, and we’ve been very lucky that we each naturally found our place in the band. We aren’t sentimental about what we make, we aren’t afraid to suggest changes to each other and we have fun being together, which I think helps massively!

We aren’t sentimental about what we make, we aren’t afraid to suggest changes to each other and we have fun being together

Which bands and artists inspire you?
We’re inspired by catchy guitar riffs from the likes of Foals; realism and understated lyrics like Daughter and female led electro-pop bands such as The XX, Warpaint and The Cocteau Twins. We’re inspired by so much music that we started our own Spotify playlist called “KINspire Me” which we update monthly with our favourites.

How has lockdown worked for you all? You are London based, so has it been easy to meet up?
Lockdown has been hard for us and I think that’s been the case for most collective projects. For solo artists it’s a lot easier to make things from the confinements of a bedroom. Adam and I are in London but we’ve only been able to meet up a small number of times to rehearse or film. I spent the first part of lockdown back at my parents’ in Sheffield and Ritu hasn’t been in the UK as she is currently filming in America. We haven’t physically seen her since January!

Lockdown has definitely made us get creative with how we operate and write/record music remotely. The three of us are heading into the studio in December, and nothing beats playing together in the same room! That will always be the way we prefer to do it

How’s the EP coming along?
The EP is in the early development stage but we definitely have lots of ideas and potential directions it could take. As a band, we are constantly writing and have a vault of unfinished songs to play with. We know that with this record we want to push ourselves sonically, create more atmospheric soundscapes and to explore worldly issues lyrically. This is the most inspiring stage because anything is possible. It’s exciting! 

I love your videos! Not surprisingly, with your backgrounds in drama it looks like you’ve really enjoyed the creativity that comes with making them. 
Thank you so much, that’s very kind. We have a lot of fun with them and the videos allow us to speak in a very different way to the music.

The video for L.O.V.E is the festival we’ve all recreated at least in our heads, if not for real. “KINfest” came over particularly poignant in these festival-starved times! Was this why you made this video?
Most definitely. The song was actually written over a year ago as a homage to the British festival, inspired by the joy and freedom I’d felt as a sixteen year old, dancing at my first festival. It seemed fitting to have this as a theme for the video particularly with the August release date which should have been prime festival season.

Festivals are integral to the industry, and I know so many artists who were relying on these bookings not only for exposure but as a chance to be paid properly. It’s why the Music Venues Trust and #SaveOurVenues are so vital at this time. We wanted the video to be a celebration but also to show that music is still very much alive. We’re here! We need these opportunities to survive! And even in these socially distanced times, music can still bring people together.

The video for your new single Wander & Lost is also gorgeous and very atmospheric. Recognisable London spots, a glamorous hotel… can you tell me more about your ideas and creative input?
I read Andre Aciman’s novel Call Me By Your Name and watched the film and was instantly in love and inspired. To me, it was the most beautiful story and I wrote the song almost immediately. I was particularly inspired by the line, “Is it better to speak or die?” in regards to love. The song is a ballad written as a narrative of the isolation, loneliness, euphoria and grief that comes with an all-encompassing love. The video all stemmed from this – and the fact that we had zero budget and would be filming ourselves on our phones!

The balloons and water came from searching Pinterest boards for inspiration and I think they really encompass the surreal and overwhelming feelings that are explored in the song. I wrote a treatment with the three separate narratives and shot list and sent it round to the others who loved the concept. I’m proud of it. It’s ambitious. I think our videos show that it is possible to make content with little to no budget and that you can do things yourself if you put some creative thought into it. 

How much were you able to play live before lockdown began (you’ve played The Finsbury, for instance). Are you planning to play live once everything opens up again?
The Finsbury is an amazing venue which we absolutely loved playing! We were fortunate enough to be asked to play by promoter, Get In Her Ears, who put on female-focused gigs around London. What they do for diversity and inclusion in the industry is amazing. We spent most of last year gigging and it’s the thing we have missed most since lockdown. We’ve tried Instagram live shows and although it’s great to reach a wider global audience from home, it really isn’t the same as gigging and touring. We’ll be out playing live again as soon as it’s safe to do so.

We have our first gig back scheduled for the 9th January 2021 at the New Cross Inn, London. It’s already been rescheduled so we’re keeping everything crossed that it will happen this time. We’ve spent time focusing on making our live set as exciting as possible, so we can’t wait to share it. We’ll be ready as soon as we get the green light.

How do you think your experience of the acting world has helped or impacted on being in KIN?
I think it’s helped massively and there are a lot of crossovers of how the industries operate. Nothing, so far, has come as much of a shock. The way that you manage things in both the theatre and music world can be adapted and so many creative and marketing skills can be used in both. The main thing is that it’s made us realists. We already had an understanding of the hard work it takes to stay afloat in the arts, the competitive nature, but how rewarding it is too. It takes time to build something special.

Have you played at any festivals and would you like to appear at any next year?
We haven’t had a proper festival season yet and it’s definitely something we are looking forward to. We are starting to organise our calendar for next year and festivals are part of the plan. Adam is a Glastonbury regular and it would be a dream to play there. We currently have Camden Calling Festival scheduled for the summer but at the moment it’s hard to know where we will be that far in advance. Let’s hope we are back to some sort of normality.

Any hints of what’s coming up next? 
A lot more adventures and excitement! We’ve been working on two new singles which we’ve been fortunate enough to record at Abbey Road Institute with the incredible Laura Iredale. We have one more session in December and they will be released early next year. Then, it’s a lot of behind the scenes planning for next year and EP writing. We like to stay busy.

Who would you like to mention who has been instrumental in guiding and helping you all and/or individually?
Everyone. It really is a collaborative effort to keep going and every person we know, meet, interact with plays a role in shaping us. From every sound tech to Ade (Riches) our manager, family, fans, even the person who pressed play and skipped our song after 30 seconds! There are a lot of unsung heroes. We thank them all!

Instagram: @kinbandofficial
Twitter: @kinbandofficial
Bandcamp – Spotify – Apple Music

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