I downloaded the first record ‘Be Still this Gentle Morning’ from emusic. I’m pretty sure that I just found it ‘accidently’. The record just seemed to come from nowhere. It is an incredibly lovely album. Whenever I saw a reference to The Kays Lavelle later on it conjured up the image of something special. The record itself became my central icon for the Kays because I never associated it with a ‘band’ directly.
Would you mind retelling the tale of the origin and meaning of the band name?
“It was basically a misunderstanding between myself and a friend during a phone conversation. He had music on in the background and I asked who he was listening to, to which he replied the K’s of L…as in the Kings of Leon. I asked who the Kays Lavelle were and the name just stuck.”
You are releasing a song from the new record as a free download on March 16 for one day only. Coincidently, and quite unbelievably, all 3 of us here at glasGOwest share a birthday that day. What prompted the decision for this little birthday present?
Well I’m working on the second record now. It’s been almost 2 years since the debut was released and there have been no shows, no interviews, no nothing really, since then to keep people interested in the Kays. I’d been thinking of ways to help raise the profile again before the album is done and ready to go, just to get some interest back and this seemed like a good taster from the album.”
I have no idea why I didn’t sign up for the recent free debut record giveaway. My thinking ran along the lines of I’ve already got it digitally and I didn’t want to impose or something like that. How many did you actually send to people? What prompted this act of generosity?
Again this had a lot to do with raising the profile and getting people interested in what I was up to. There would really be no point in doing the second record if I didn’t think people would want a second record, other than to satisfy my own personal need to write and record music. I just made it available for a limited time to try and encourage people back into the kays music. I had about 20 people asking for copies.
I’m very excited that the work on the second record is apparently underway . Musically, do you intend to venture into any new directions? Is the new song fairly representative of the rest of the album?
“I always want to push myself as an artist. Working on the Graveyard Tapes record pushed me far out of my comfort zone as a musician, which was a really important experience. Its made me approach the new Kays record in a different way. So hopefully the record will have a very different feel to the debut without ever being anything other than the Kays Lavelle. I just hope to write and create music that people will connect with.
The new song is not really representative of the rest of the album as it was recorded live and won’t likely be touched again other than a tweak here and there and mastering. Also, my gut feeling is that there will be a lot less piano led tracks on the new record as I really want to experiment with different instruments and sounds; but it’s too early to tell how the songs will develop and change during the recording process at the moment. Hopefully people will like the record once it’s ready.”
I always like to ask if there are any other artists people would recommend. In this case, I’m just going to just ask about Hiva Oa under the assumption they would be who you would want to tell us about. What makes them special? ( please do include anyone else you’d also like to point out to us)
“Well as a starting point Hiva Oa are just exceptional. I run mini50 records and their new ep is our latest release so perhaps I have a bias. But from the first time I saw them live I loved their music. What makes them special is difficult to explain – I guess I just connect with what they do musically and I love that they have their own voice and sound.
Other recommendations would include anything on the mini50 catalogue, I guess, and Matthew Collings solo stuff (he’s the other half of Graveyard Tapes).”
Could you give us a sense of the differences between the Glasgow and Edinburgh music scenes? (or is it largely just a question of geography?)
” Well I have to be honest and say I don’t like when people divide Edinburgh and Glasgow. I think good music and art has come out of both cities and it makes no sense to say there is a musical divide between places in a country so small. The main difference is that those bands Based in glasgow are not based in Edinburgh and vice versa. “
I’ve read a good deal of your wordpress blog just now. And it appears that, somewhat sadly, the Kays will remain as elusive as my original experience. “Stunningly beautiful” is a worthy goal. It tends to come out of Scotland quite a lot actually. Why do you think that is?
“Well, I hope I won’t be too elusive but thank you for the kind words on the Kays and I will strive for stunningly beautiful.
A sense of place in music is a really interesting thing. I think perhaps traditional music creates imagery and sounds that are deeply rooted in a country or a place. I watched ‘Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus’ about the music of the deep south and it struck me how its impossible to escape the traditions, culture and sound of where you come from. listening to Jim White, the Handsome Family and similar artists the music they create could only come from the one place. It perfectly evokes the eerie beauty you find there, the humidity, and the music is so fearsome, yet fragile all at the same time.
Maybe the same thing is true of Scotland, of course the sound is totally different, but we’re very embedded in traditional music. You try to move beyond that, but the roots are there and in many ways are inescapable. I don’t think people deliberately go out their way to create something that sounds like their home country, I know I don’t, but maybe its something inherently instinctive.”
I’ll wrap it up with this last question – could you tell us about the Graveyard Tapes? I couldn’t find any music but the project clearly seems to be a source of optimism.
“Graveyard Tapes started in 2010 and is a project involving myself and Matthew Collings. We have recently completed our debut album entitled ‘Our Sound Is Our Wound’ and we’re hoping that it will be released this year. Its at the mixing/mastering stage so it should be done soon enough. Its been a great experience for me as a musician and also a person because I think Matt is one of the most talented and wonderful people I’ve met. I have learned so much from him musically and his drive and passion has pushed me on to not only want to finish this record but to do the second Kays record and plenty of other things in the future too hopefully. So yeah, I guess you could say it’s been a very positive experience for me.”
Happy Birthday. March 16th only. ‘Hiding in the Ditches’. Be sure to get the sampler while there as well, it does have some Graveyard Tapes. http://mini50records.bandcamp.com/