Interview: Sky Larkin
Leeds’ trio of Nestor, Katie and Doug have formed one of the top indie pop trios a few years back, breaking in with their stellar The Golden Spike prior to 2010’s follow-up, Kaleide. Most recently, their Year Dot EP came out, featuring a jittery, key-driven melody punctuated with “one pile of bones so they’ll know we were friends” which came out of 2009’s, lovingly titled, Tour Not Bore tour of America. Sky Larkin just wrapped up their most recent jaunt across the Atlantic and were incredibly kind enough to treat us to an interview. Big massive Thank You across the pond to the trio! (Hope to receive the postcard!) Oh, and I second checking out that remix you’ll read about shortly.
You all are about to head over to CMJ in NYC, but first how’s the current tour going? Where does it fit compared to last year’s Tour Not Bore?
Nestor: Tour Not Bore! I think last year was much more spontaneous and ‘eventful’ thanks to our adventurous tour manager Ben (gawd bless ‘im), which isn’t to say that this tour wasn’t eventful. I think the only real difference was that the Blood Red Sky Tour (yeah?) probably didn’t contain as much outright danger as TNB, which is either a good or a bad thing depending on how rock and roll you are.
I have to admit even though I’m super excited to see Blood Red Shoes, I’m jealous we’re missing out on your recently announced tour with Frightened Rabbit. If you could tour America with anyone, who would make up your dream lineup and why?
N: I keep forgetting we’ve got a tour with Frightened Rabbit! Amazing! We’ll send you a postcard. I’ll probably get told off for this but I’d like to go on tour with Lightning Bolt. For various reasons and schedule clashes I have never managed to see the spectacle of a Lightning Bolt live show, but if we were on the road together I could bask in their pandemonium every night until I went completely deaf. Excellent.
Katie: Why would you get told off for it? Did they slate something? That’d be an ace tour. I’d go on tour with Prince so I could sleep in a purple big top every night.
Much of your music is linked to John Goodmanson and Seattle. How did you and him connect and record together? How come you chose him over perhaps others in Europe?
N: When Wichita asked us if we wanted to record our debut album with them they suggested that we have a look through our record collections, pull out the albums that we think sound how we’d want to sound and jot down the name of the producer. It just so happens that Wichita already been working with John, so when we brought up his name they knew as well as us that we’d be in excellent hands (and ears). A lot of the music that we listen to and that has influenced us comes from the hallowed pacific north west region of the US, so the possibility of recording there was something we jumped at. Also John is a Seattlite (is that spelled right?) so it meant that we could borrow gear and space from friends of his and make use of his own studio (Bogroll Studios as we christened it, it’s a long story). The first album recording process went so smoothly and naturally that going back to Seattle to work with John for the second was the only logical choice for us.
Between recording the two full lengths, was there anything new that you took into making Kaleide?
K: Aside from the tour chops we’d developed by being out on the road pretty constantly and a familiarity with the studio process, we took some new instruments. I’ve started playing Baritone guitar on this album and Doug played keyboards. But most significant was that we actually took less fully-formed material into the studio. For TGS we’d developed the songs over a few years and they all had pretty concrete identities. For Kaleide, though the songs were written, we hadn’t settled on all of the sounds we wanted to use, and I know some of my vocal melodies and pretty much all the backing vocals were improvised in the studio. Having already established trust with John through the experience of the first record meant we could roam a little free-er this time.
Kaleide stretches a bit from The Golden Spike, yet “Barracuda” is even more so, especially thanks to the horns from Napoleon IIIrd. How’d you meet him?
N: Napoleon IIIrd (or Nappy3 to his friends or maybe just us) has been part of the Leeds music scene since before Sky Larkin was born, I can’t remember the first show we played with him but we’ve been pals ever since. He’s an utterly unique songwriter/composer whose songs work either played alone with his trusty reel-to-reel tape deck by his side or supported by a 12 piece band, bloody brilliant. I’m glad to see his new album, Gloriana, is getting the attention that it and he deserves. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough he is also a dab hand at pumping out huge remixes, check his remix of our song keepsakes on our myspace if you don’t believe me!
K: I’m not sure but as it’s the hub of our universe, it’s a fair guess we met him at The Brudenell Social Club.
Can we expect more collaboration in the future from Sky Larkin with other musicians?
K: Nestor and I played on the aforementioned Napoleon IIIrd record, I sang on the forthcoming Patrick Wolf record and Pulled Apart By Horses have covered our song ‘Somersault’
To wrap it up, last time around you brought together a little packet of written love entitled Letters to America from several UK artists. It was a phenomenal idea, and helped me discover several new bands, especially Copy Haho. Could we expect another issue sometime in the future?
K: I’m glad you liked it and I’ve been really overwhelmed by the response, I certainly plan to!