Q&A with Kittling
New electronic artist Kittling has just released his debut single Joy. The track is just a taste of what’s to come in 2017. Kittling chats to us about inspiration behind the single and finding a way to stand out in the sea of talented electronic artists out there.
Congratulations on the recent release of your debut single Joy. It sounds great! How has the reception been so far?
It’s only just started its journey. So far, so good!
As this is your debut single, can you tell us what the recording process was like?
This is my first single as Kittling, but I’ve been recording for a couple of years. My recording process is fairly simple – everything starts as a sketch, as a set of chords and a beat, and then I normally write lyrics and melody. I record everything at home, except for found sounds or atmos, which I record elsewhere. It’s always a combination of samples and live instrumentation/ vocals.
Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration? Can you let us in on what inspired the lyrics in ‘Joy’?
I need only to scroll through my Tinder matches for inspiration. I’m only half-kidding.
Joy was inspired by a drama that happened in my family, but I decided to write it more ambiguously, to open it up for others to put themselves in it. I wanted to turn an event in our family that rocked the boat into a song that people could sing to empower themselves.
What else has influenced and inspired your music? Both the single and your music in general?
Oh, mate, so many things. Sometimes a particular song or sound will just be so delicious that it takes over my life and I become obsessed! I’m never prepared for what my next obsession will be. My big thing at the moment is writing songs that are more assertive and empowering than your typical pop song. I want to write songs about agency & independence. Sometimes pop music just wants you to feel lovelorn, or sorry for yourself, and I want to amplify the stronger side.
With electronic artists like Flume and Disclosure growing in popularity, and electronic music becoming more widely appreciated, how do you hope to stand out?
I don’t even know! Flume and Disclosure are amazing, and I think both of them crafted a sound that was the right sound at the right time. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself, so I’m just focusing on writing songs that feel different to the current musical landscape, and reaching out to incredible and talented vocalists to collaborate. Hopefully there’ll be some magic along the way!
Painters often sign their artwork; do you think you have an electronic/ musical signature you like to incorporate in your music?
I have a real penchant for sevenths and chimes. Does that count?
I’ve seen your music described electronic, dance, pop. Would you agree? How would you classify yourself?
Nailed it! A lot of my new tracks (yet to be unveiled) have a real 80s bent as well. I’m trying to blend old and new sounds.
How did you get started in music?
I was forced to learn piano, and after giving up on music and returning to it in my early twenties, it’s become a joy to play again. I had to learn how to have fun with music – it didn’t come naturally when I was a kid.
Where does the name ‘Kittling’ come from? I take it that’s not on your birth certificate.
(Laughs) Nope! It’s an old Scottish slang word that means ‘to tickle or arouse’, which I thought was a bit cheeky. It has a double meaning for me because it’s also a portmanteau of my ancestor’s last names on my mum’s side – I didn’t even realise until I told my parents and that’s where they thought I got the name from (they gave me waaaay too much credit).
What songs or albums are you listening to right now?
Oh boy, I’ve actually been stuck on Solange’s A Seat At the Table for the last month. It’s so gorgeous – so heavy and so light at the same time. It’s really listenable but it tackles huge issues and inequalities. I just think it’s the most graceful album I’ve heard in ages.
Do you have any idols, both personally and professionally?
You mentioned some of them earlier when you brought up Flume and Disclosure – they are wizards… and I think they’re excellent examples of how to blend really melodic songwriting with contemporary production. But my first love in pop is Robyn. I love how she mixes sad vocals with upbeat production; sass and fire with vulnerability. She’s just so cool (and has great hair).
How and when were you inspired to make music your career path?
Probably when I realised I still can’t do my times tables.
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Master mental maths before you start thinking about a career in music.
What’s comes next for Kittling? Is there an EP or album in the works?
I’ve got a few singles on the backburner, a music video in the works, and a live show to debut later in the year. I’m working with a couple of vocalists and songwriters to push myself outside my comfort zone. There’s a lot happening in the next few months! You can expect a second single very soon.
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- Hannah Forsdike