A Conversation with This Is the Kit

This is the Kit‘s new EP, Moonshine First Goes – a four-song collection of first-takes from the group’s latest album, Moonshine Freeze – will be released on 30th March through Rough Trade Records. Its lead track, ‘By My Demon Eye (First Go)’, is out now. Prior to starting album sessions with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, M Ward and Perfume Genius), the Paris-via-Bristol songwriter Kate Stables recorded stripped-back acoustic versions of four tracks in Bristol at J and J Studios and in drummer Jamie’s shed. Stables says, of the recordings:

It was a time of finishing off songs, working out arrangements and looking for drum patterns in preparation for burying ourselves in the studio to get the album recorded. I like hearing these early versions again. It totally takes me back to that time and those places… Formative times“.

I took some time to speak with Stables about the EP and the reason for releasing it. She discusses her move from Bristol to Paris and how life differs in both cities. She looks ahead to tour dates with the band and talks about the reaction to the album, Moonshine Freeze – feedback, as she explains, which stunned and humbled her.

Hi, Kate. How are things going?

Hi, there. This week has been pretty full-on but, so far, all challenges have been met and managed – so, I’m feeling pretty OK about it all!

Moonshine First Goes is your new EP. What compelled the decision to record four stripped-down versions (of songs) from Moonshine Freeze?

Well, they actually predate the album…

I guess you’d call them demos, really. They were a way of finishing off the arrangements and writing, and deciding how we wanted to approach them in the studio later. I, personally, find it quite fascinating to hear early work-in-progress versions of songs and so, with Rough Trade, we thought we’d share these versions in case anyone was interested.

Was it hard deciding which songs to choose for the EP?

Mmmm, not really. These were the early versions that I liked best and that brought back quite a strong memory of the time when I was still writing and working on the songs.  So, these were the ones that got chosen for the EP!

‘By My Demon Eye (First Go)’ is the lead track. What was the reason for releasing that song? Is it a particularly personal number?

I guess the same reason for releasing any song: I wrote it and I’m in a songwriting and song-releasing line of work.

It tells a story and refers to other stories and songs that have a strong meaning for me. So, yes, it is personal, I would say.

Do you think they’ll be tour dates where you’ll play these acoustic numbers?

I think so, yes. It definitely changes the shape and the energy, and even the story of the song sometimes, when you play it solo and without the band. I always try and vary the instrumentation that gets used throughout a live set: it makes for a more interesting journey for the audience as well as the band.

So I like playing some of the songs solo. It gives everyone a bit of breathing space and I can mess around with the timing and tuning of the song and know that I’m not stitching up the band [smiles].

How have you found the reaction to Moonshine Freeze? It seems a lot of people have connected with the album.

I’ve found the reaction to Moonshine Freeze to be overwhelmingly positive. I’m really touched that people not only appreciate the music but also find a connection and a shared story in the lyrics. I feel very lucky. Of course, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea though, but, mercifully, when people aren’t into an album, they usually don’t bother saying so… Unless they find it really offensive, of course.

Even when that happens, you just have to respect their opinion and not take it personally!

Are there plans for summer and general gigs? What do you have in mind?

There are plans for summer and general gigs!

In April, we head out on a European tour. In May, we’ll be touring in North America and then, from June, the festivals start picking up the pace – and that’ll see us through until September. In-between the festivals, there is a spot of UK touring planned.

So, things will be nice and busy for a while now!

How different is the vibe in Paris compared to Bristol (your previous home)? Do you get different inspiration from Paris?

Every city has its different energies and atmosphere but also, as individuals, we have different phases of our life and our character. So, the combo of a certain city mixed with a certain ‘you’ at a certain time in your life makes for all kinds of outcomes. We can only ever really experience those as individuals: one person’s experience of a city, at a certain time, will be completely different to someone else’s.

When I think of the two cities today in this version of myself, I remember from Bristol a lot of green vegetation, space, cycling and time alone. The Paris I know today is very compact and dense, with rich multicultural tanglings – but, also, these days sometimes conflict. So many people are motivated to making a positive change in the communities here and the light here is different.

The parks are less about the wilderness and more about the shared social space and outside time. I have a family now so that changes my outlook on the city I live in. Less cycling, but still some. Less solitude – but lots of wonderful friends and strangers in the busy streets.

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Chill time is an ongoing lesson to learn. A skill to master. Same as anyone really.

I guess I unwind the same as anyone, too. I like board games, any games. It brings out different corners of people’s characters that I really like: corners that you don’t always get to see when you’re just chatting or being polite. I like riding my bike but, these days, best of all, I love libraries – just to go sit and be quiet or read, write and learn. They’re just the best places. Everyone’s sharing such a great public resource/service.

Totally great.

Can you give us a glimpse into the remainder of this year? Are new songs coming to you at the moment?

Well, touring is the main glimpse until the autumn. I’ve been working on writing but I’m very slow so I’ve not got a whole new album ready yet! There are lots of new projects that I’d like to get starte but I have to be careful how I dish out my time…

So, I’d better get stuck in as soon as possible.

Finally, and for being a good sport, you can choose a song and I’ll play it here.

Ah, thank you! Well, one of my favourite artists ever is Rachael Dadd. We spent a lot of formative time together in Bristol-land – she’s one of the most amazing songwriters and musicians I know. She has a song called Tap the Sap -which I think is truly excellent. So, I highly recommend that you play that!

MOONSHINE FIRST GOES IS AVAILABLE FROM 30TH MARCH VIA ROUGH TRADE.

TOUR DATES:

MAY

12th – Wrexham, UK – Focus Wales 2018

JUNE

Jun 2nd – London, UK – All Points East Festival

JULY

Jul 5th – Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK – Mouth of the Tyne Festival 2018
Jul 6th – Moira, UK – Timber! 201
Jul 17th – Reading, UK – South Street Arts Centre
Jul 18th – Guildford, UK – Boileroom
Jul 20-22nd – Thirsk, UK – Deer Shed Festival 2018

AUGUST

Aug 2-5th – East Lulworth, UK – Bestival 2018
Aug 26th – Winchester, UK – Graze Festival 2018
Aug 30th – Sept 2nd – Larmer Tree Gardens, Tollard Royal, UK – End of the Road Festival

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