KATE BOY:THE INTERVIEW by Stephen Couse
Stockholm-based alt-electro poppers Kate Boy release their new single ‘When I Was Young’ next month. The track is from their debut album ‘One’. So what are Kate (Akhurst) and Markus (Dextegen) inspired by? They chat to Student Rag’s Stephen Couse about their worlds colliding.
How did the name Kate Boy come about?
We never felt like a traditional band in the sense where there was a designated drummer, guitar player, etc and we wanted our name to reflect the way it feels to make music together. We do everything together and it feels like we become one unit, one body, feminine and masculine, our extra and most important band member – Kate Boy.
How would you describe your sound?
Our musical collaboration has always been about colliding different worlds. We love hypnotic mechanical music, but equally the human heart of a pop chorus.
You can hear some 80s influences in your songs, was that something you were trying to achieve when making the album?
Most of our influences are from artists back in late 70s and early 80s that pioneered genres that evolved out of the use of electronic instruments. The slate was clean back then, artists got a hold over instruments that no one really knew could offer, they just sounded completely unique and new and from there some musicians went, ‘lets explore something we don’t know’. That way of looking at creating music inspired us a lot when we were making the album.
Sweden has produced some great pop artists for decades, from ABBA to Avicii, why do you think there is so much creativity coming out of the country?
We get this question often and to be honest – we don’t really know the answer! It’s hard to know what it is exactly when you don’t have much to compare it to. Maybe it’s partly due to the long winters. It encourages everyone to stay inside and get cosy with being creative… but also we think it might be because it’s a relatively small city and most people know each other within the music scene. This creates an incredibly inspiring and encouraging element which might make it easier to begin!
The lyrics seem philosophical at times, is there any overall theme running through the album?
We started touring so early in our careers and that allowed us to connect with our audience almost immediately, and we experienced the incredible feeling of singing whilst the crowd is singing along. So when it came to writing new material, we really felt inspired to have a deeper message in our songs, where it wasn’t just personal, it was about us all… something that we can all feel empowered singing together. A big theme throughout the album is the concept of connection, whether that be more of a personal connection with yourself, or with each other, or as one bigger entity.
The album was largely self-produced, do you like having control over your songs when it comes to the production side of things?
It’s how we make our music, we do everything ourselves. We couldn’t do it any other way because we produce while we write, and mix it too along the way. It all happens simultaneously.
There was additional production from Christoffer Berg, what do you think he brought to the recording process?
Christoffer added a great synth part to the bridge of ‘Midnight Sun’, but as far as the recording process goes, we actually just sent files back and forth and have never even met in person! We keep realizing after the fact that we’ve been at the same gigs in Sweden but always keep missing each-other!
The album was recorded in Stockholm, did that location have an influence over the music or the lyrics?
Absolutely, songs like ‘Northern Lights’ or ‘Midnight Sun’ wouldn’t have been written if we hadn’t have been in the Scandinavian environment and inspired by those natural phenomenons.
The album art is really striking, did Kate Boy have an input to the artwork?
We usually make all our visuals ourselves so having creative input is a must for us. We found Lee Griggs (the artist we did our album art with) through hours and hours of searching on the internet! We stumbled upon his profile on a website called Behance and fell in love with the way he could make 3D art look so real and perfectly imperfect! We reached out to him, and have worked with him since. The album artwork was a 3D scan of my head, that Lee built his 3D art around. The concept was an evolved version of the Kate Boy character we envision.
It seems like a good album to own on vinyl, for the artwork alone. The album was released on vinyl, what’s your thoughts on the format?
Having our album on vinyl is really a dream come true, there’s just something so special about vinyl. Since less people are buying music in physical forms nowadays, owning an album on vinyl is like having it as a piece of art. We collect vinyl and hope that it never dies out!
It’s been a pretty intense touring schedule recently, do you find it difficult on the road?
It has its tough moments due to lack of sleep and exhaustion, but on a whole, we really love travelling so touring is awesome. And we take the time out to always try to have at least one thing to do in each city that a local has recommended us to do. We have an email where people have been sharing their tips on the cities we visit so that really has been a lot of fun to explore all these different places to see or have a great meal! It’s a way we have found brings so much fun to the day around the shows, but also connects us to the people from those cities. Feels more like a vacation!
The music is very danceable, what is the crowd reaction at gigs?
There is an amazing energy when the whole crowd is a dance floor, but we also understand that some people don’t need to move when they listen to music! This tour the crowd reaction has been the best because our album is now out and everyone knows all the songs, so it has been fantastic to have everyone singing with us.
What’s the strangest place you’ve been to on tour?
Well it’s not a strange place, but it was a paradise island which made it strange to play at compared to the usual club, and that was when we went to the island of Hvar in Croatia to perform at FOR festival. It was so beautiful, we swam off the coast before we performed and ate fresh seafood, it was truly like a summer vacation with a show squeezed in!
The last gig in Scotland was at Glasgow’s Stereo in November last year, any plans to come to Scotland again any time soon?
We don’t have anything planned right now, but we’d love to come back! Hopefully next year we can tour Scotland.
Do you have any memories of the city or the venue?
Yes, we had a really great time although unfortunately we were in the middle of our UK tour so we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the city, but we had recently met Chvrches at a festival we played in Mexico and they had given us a good run down of what to do when we were there! The people were so friendly in Glasgow, we want to come back!!
What are you working on now?
We have been on our album tour, about 25 shows in total. It’s been so much fun, we wish we could tour even longer!
What will you do over Christmas and New Year?
We’re heading off to Australia! In January we are supporting Bloc Party on a couple shows. Then we’re going to soak up some of the Australian sun and start writing again. We are so filled with inspiration and can’t wait to get into recording mode again!