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Interview: Kim Churchill

Releasing his debut album back in 2014, after a few years of travelling, touring and writing, Kim Churchill is back with his sophomore album, ‘Weight Falls’. With the first two singles from the album, Breakneck Speed and Second Hand Car, being released and giving us a taste of what’s to come, the album proves to be a journey of variety that pays homage to Churchill’s adventures and experiences. With a huge Australian and European tour on the horizon, we had a chat with the Aussie muso about the process of making this record, the importance of self-honesty and the impact travel has on his craft.

Firstly, congratulations on the new album. I did read that you wrote the whole album, then decided to rewrite the whole thing over a period of a week. Can you explain a little more what happened with that?

The other one was just not quite right, it’s kind of hard to explain why but it was just a gut feeling. I kind of felt that something wasn’t quite right with it, so I was having to do more and more within my subconscious to lie to myself and tell myself that it was good. I was rationalising the nice things people were saying about it and argue with myself, but at the end of the day I knew it wasn’t what I wanted. So I finally came to this point where I knew I had to redo it, and my team agreed with me, so I had to say, “Let’s put it down and leave it for now, whatever it is that I’m feeling I have to honour.” That made me pretty nervous because we had a lot of people on board with it, so that was my meeting in the middle so to speak, making a new one over the period of a week. I knew what I had to do, it was a wonderful feeling though. When you lie to yourself for long enough and finally come clean, you see the world so clearly and understand how to be honest so well. And I think that’s what I was really looking for in my song writing, was that honesty. The second time I started writing I knew it would be easy for some reason; I sat down and wrote a bunch of songs and they were exactly the way they needed to be.

Did you end up keeping any songs or elements from the first album or did you scrap them all?

Two songs made the cut, so not very much, but I had lots of ideas, which is pretty common for me. Often when you’re recording an album you’re so focused on being centred on what you’re doing that when you stop recording for a second, you pick up an instrument anyway and start making more music, because you’re so focused on it. And the music you make in those moments, there’s so little pressure on it, it doesn’t have to be anything in particular, so they quite often end up being really great ideas. So throughout this process I found that I was consistently coming up with new ideas, and I guess that’s why it ended up coming together so quickly the second time round.

I’ve been listening to the album the past few days and sound-wise there’s so much variety on there. Was that intentional or is that just how it panned out?

I think that’s just me to a degree. I get so excited by new music and what I’m listening to, and all the different directions end up coming out in my song writing. As well as that, I have done a lot of travelling in the past few years, personal and to play shows, so I’m a firm believer that any songwriter or artist is constantly channelling the environment that they’re in. So being in so many different places, I was writing in Sri Lanka on the beach for a while, then I was in studios in Montreal and Australia, and I wrote in London for a bit as well, all those different places across the course of two or three years were influencing the new music I was coming up with. So I think that contributes to the variety as well. 

I was actually going to ask you about your travelling from looking at your social media and how it would almost certainly have some impact on your creativity.

Yeah it definitely does. I think the key to that whole scenario is needing to be open to the environment, which can be scary because when you’re travelling things can freak you out, being different and unknown, so if you can be open to that and open to the art that wants to be created, that shines through in the music and it has nothing to do with you, you just become a vessel.

Your last record was in 2014. Have you been doing much else aside from touring and writing?

Not a whole lot to be honest, that’s really all I do. I did actually surf a lot and do some personal travelling. I did an incredible trek through Machu Picchu and the Andes, and I travelled through Portugal, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Costa Rico and Indonesia. So I did a lot of travel for myself which was amazing, and I think people can learn so much from travelling.

You’ve got a tour coming up—you’re going to be playing over here for a while then heading to Europe and the UK. Will you mostly be playing the new tracks or will it be more of a mix of everything?

We’ve got quite a nice mix of everything. I’m having so much fun playing the new music though. For the first time ever too I’m bringing a couple of new people on stage with me, which is really exciting. They’re both drummers, and they both sing harmonies too, and I still have my little one-man band in the middle, so we’re very excited to be hitting the road. The new music caters very much to this set up, with a lot of layered drums and harmonies, but it’s been really wonderful re-working the old songs too. We’ll probably play ten or eleven of the songs off the new album, and around seven or eight older songs, so there’s a nice little balance in there.

That’s a really cool way to look it. I’m not a musician but I think if I was given ten days to organise something like this I would be stressed to the max with it.

I reckon yeah, you can’t take life too seriously. You’ve got to have a certain amount of oblivious nonchalance in there, mixed in with a lot of hard work and focus obviously. But this time I’m definitely feeling really good about it. Last time I was absolutely petrified, but now I’m feeling a lot more calm about the whole process.

Kim Churchill Live Dates

Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Unibar, Wollongong
Street Theatre, Canberra
The Jack, Cairns
The Office, Townsville
Timberfest, Mackay
Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Sooki Lounge, Belgrave
Fat Controller, Adelaide
Waratah Hotel, Hobart
Royal Oak, Launceston
Fremantle Arts Centre Front Lawn, Fremantle
Prince of Wales, Bunbury
Red Room @ Clancy’s Fish Pub, Dunsborough
The Factory, Sydney
Solbar, Sunshine Coast
Soundlounge, Gold Coast
The Triffid, Brisbane

Written by Emily Mathison