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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