As our rainy and cold Canadian summer comes to an end, I am swayed by the upbeat music of Kim Churchill. I recently chatted with Churchill via e-mail about the influences and changes behind his brand new studio album Weight_Falls. Read the full interview below.
Into The Airwaves: Thank you so much for taking time to answer our questions, you must be very busy with the album coming out! Your new album, weight_falls, is released on August 25th; congratulations! What was the idea behind the name including an underscore?
Kim Churchill: After making a decision to, more or less, put aside the album I had completed and start from scratch I felt a very odd sense of relief. I think I had been lying to myself about the other material for a long time and that had become quite a weight to carry – though of course I wasn’t aware of it. The moment I told my record label and team that I would write a new album in a week was quite liberating. It felt like all of that weight fell away. I woke up at 6am the next morning and started to write. The first song that came out was ‘Weight Falls’ and I felt like it summed up the whole moment really well. I knew that a lot of big label people were going to be hearing my rough little demo’s and downloaded GarageBand to put some reverb on the recordings and layer a few harmonies. I’d never used the program and collided with this incredibly inspiring set of possibilities. I started cutting up my guitar parts, sampling sounds I recorded in my bedroom, layering very simple drum parts over and over around my acoustic guitar and adding these really bad quality bass synth parts. I kind of stumbled across my new sound and every time I sent a song from GarageBand to my computer I would add underscores instead of spaces between words along with a bunch of numbers symbols. I wanted to somehow pay homage to that digital influence and how much it inspired me – so I included an underscore.
ITA: The album art shows a man diving upward and out of water; what was the idea behind this artwork?
KC: There is a company in England named Storm Studios which is essentially the four members of the late, Storm Thorgersen’s crew who continue his amazing work. Storm has done all of Pink Floyd album covers, and many others for Led Zepplin, Peter Gabriel, The Rolling Stones, Muse, Audioslave and tonnes of others. I always idolised his work which he called ‘Normal but Not’ photography. One day I had lunch with Peter who took over the company when Storm passed away. I gave him a sock full of money and asked if he’s consider doing up some sketches for me of the album. He did – and I chose one and we decided to work together. This is the second album cover Storm Studio’s has done for me, we had dinner and breakfast and beers and all kinds of meetings consistently every time I went to London for two years. Peter understood what I had gone through and this sketch said it all to me. It’s a reversal of your efforts, a sort of ‘yielding to overcome’. The dive into the sky, so to speak.
ITA: Following the release of Silence//Win, you traveled to less touristic regions like Sri Lanka; how did your travels influence your music?
KC: That was a very inspiring trip! So many incredible colours and sounds and smells. I think as songwriters we always reflect our environment within the music we create. Those travels have a beautiful colour and vibrancy to the music I was writing. It also kept me in awe of the world. I like to have healthy amount of wonder for it all when I write. There’s a lot of wonder in Sri Lanka.
ITA: In the process of writing your new album, you remade everything because it did not feel quite right to you. What were some of the major changes you chose to make?
KC: I really just recorded and entire new album. I wrote it in a week after making the decision to leave the one I had been working on. So it was an entire fresh sound, perspective and collection of songs.
ITA: Are there songs that were left untouched following your modifications?
KC: No, that other album is a strong and beautiful record and it remains intact. I may well release it one day. But I want it to remain a strong and entire work of art. I believe it deserves that.
ITA: In the weeks leading to the launch of your album, you busked around Australia to sell your album, saying you missed doing that. Is it the carefree experience or something else that you look for in these events?
KC: When I first started touring and playing music, I was mainly busking. There is a wonderful carefree quality to playing on the street. It’s one of my favourite places to play. I’ve always missed it and this seemed like a great excuse to get out and do it again.
ITA: weight_falls is your fifth studio album; how did you grow musically between your first album and this one?
KC: I think I have a much stronger vision when I set out to write and record a song. I’m confident in what I want to say, how to say it and how to lay it down. I’m not exactly sure when I started to get that confidence but when I look back now I realise I didn’t have that when I as recording my first album.
ITA: Are there risks you were not willing to take with your music when you first started that now you feel okay taking now? And, vice versa, are there risks you were willing to take when you first started that you would not take now?
KC: I think I was very oblivious in the early days. I took enormous risks and didn’t even know I had. Sometimes this paid off but sometimes It missed the mark and I’d end up with odd bits of art that didn’t really suit me. These days, I take as many risks, but I know when and where. I also say ‘no’ a lot more. There’s an art to saying ‘no’ just as there is to saying ‘yes’. I feel like I know a lot more about these art forms now.
ITA: Is there anything you do to keep renewing yourself when you write music?
KC: Travel and meet people and listen to their perspectives and the way they view the world. It’s the most inspiring thing one can do and songs inevitably come from it. Sometimes this can be in a bar after a few pints of beer. This is good and inspiring too.
ITA: What subjects do you feel you did not cover enough through your career?
KC: I think I’d really like to write songs from other perspectives than my own. I take on board everything I see and feel and write songs about it. I’d love to write some songs where I am trying to embody someone else entirely and the way they are thinking. That would be fun.
ITA: Which song on weight_falls do you feel represents the most the album?
KC: I think the first track ‘Whole Entire’ sums it all up quite nicely. That or ‘The Border’.
When I do interviews, I always ask a few general questions to complete and tie everything together!
– What do you prefer from Canada?
KC: The mountains and the summer.
– What do you miss from home when you are touring?
– One stereotype from Australia that isn’t true?
KC: We drink a lot of fosters beer.
– … And one that is?
KC: We drink a lot of beer.
– Can we expect to see you soon in Canada?
KC: Yes! I’ll be back early 2018. I’ve missed Canada so much! I can’t wait to be back!
ITA: Thank you so much for taking time to answer our questions! We wish you the best success with your new album!
Listen to: Second Hand Car by Kim Churchill