Interview with Agnes Kain, October 2009
HAC: It seems every song is about leaving home and moving to a new country. Was this completely planned or just the outcome from writing songs based on real life experiences?
AK: Yeah the songs reference lots of comings and goings, which is very much how we have lived for the past few years but the album is not all travel inspired. It wasn't really planned but we do tend to write about our own experiences or of things we have heard on long bus journeys. It's always fun to put your headphones in without sound and check out what people will talk about when they think you're not listening.
HAC: Is it a concept album without even really trying - it just turned out that way?
AK: It really just turned out that way, but we don't think of it as a concept album. If we had planned to write songs about our travels then we would have caved under pressure and perhaps done a cover of, 'the wheels on the bus go round and round' for forty-five minutes. Cliché as it sounds sometimes the songs almost write themselves. For us it's like they live inside our heads for a bit and finally at the most inconvenient time they have to be put to paper. Wow, that truly does sound cliché!
HAC: I described the album as 'reflecting on the small things that usually go on around the bigger things'. The opening song "I've tied my laces up, I'm getting out" pretty much sums that up. Is that right?
Agnes Kain:For sure, we like the little things. One of the best parts of traveling (and life) is absolutely the little things. You see tourists flock to major attractions with such determination that we often feel they're missing the best bits, which is the everyday life going on around them. Songs can be like reading a good book, so many stories and themes have already be covered but it's the way it's told that makes it interesting.
HAC: I'm even hearing a 'First Fleet' (in reverse) squeezebox in 'Set You Apart'. Am I on drugs?
AK: Yes you are on drugs! But we know what you mean. We were laughing with Brian while mixing that song as it was going to be our Ode to Glasgow, especially as he played a little Melotron for us which is what you're hearing along with viola.
HAC: There is a lot of fantastic imagery throughout the album - hiding places and hostages come to mind - where does this all come from?
AK: Oh we just made it all up, it's story telling you know, ha! No, often we'll read or hear snippets of stories which stay with you and become part of your own story.
HAC: The good thing is all the lyrics can be heard very clearly - was this the reason to not print the lyrics this time around (unlike 2007's debut album)?
AK: Um not really, but it's a good thought and the lyrics are very clear. We just figured its fun to not know the exact lyrics. We've had a few people write to us with lyric attempts at songs from our debut and it's so fun to think of people out there singing along to their own version of the song. We were even thinking of doing a version of 'all time high' to the lyrics this one girl sent us as they were just precious!
HAC: What is the song writing process? Do you write together, apart, or any which way?
AK: Both, in the past it was very much a 'bath time' kind of process. Stef would play around with tunes and I could hear him from the bath and would often start humming along and then yell,' get me my notebook' (please! Of course). However we didn't have such luxuries like privacy this time round so Stef would record some stuff and I'd listen on buses, planes etc and then add some lyrics. We both always have lots of songs and pages of words lying around, which we often go back to. Oh and occasionally, with 'Like sirens' on this album, we'll just be sitting around feeling quite uninspired on a dark winters afternoon and just make up a song! So that's always the best!
HAC: How has living in England affected you creativity?
AK: We have loved living in London, although it took a few months to get use to and sort ourselves out. We haven't been around all our creative friends and we haven't been listening to radio or buying cd's, so we've been forced very much to entertain and also influence ourselves creatively speaking. Which is good as we feel this album is a little more true to us than our debut .
HAC: Played any gigs northside? New band members? Had any odd jobs?
AK: Sadly not one gig, apart from house gigs. We just focused on recording, which was a challenge as we had to keep hiring everything and worrying if our crap computer was going to die. Both worked office jobs full time to support our little music habit! And we did lots of travel which is why we came here. However we really hope to come back soon and play some gigs!
HAC: Can you explain (again) where the name Agnes Kain comes from?
AK: Agnes Kain is the name of my (Chanelle) late grandmother. I just always loved the name Agnes and its a nice way to keep her memory alive. My granddad loves it!
HAC: Seen any good bands over there? Films? Exhibitions?
AK: We saw Beirut at the Forum in London which was excellent, the sound was just so perfect! We were like WE NEED BRASS, but we didn't do it...see its so easy to be influenced! Also in Reykjavik we saw some cute indie bands in sweet little drinking holes. We also saw the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Radiohead and they never disappoint! Oh and we saw Bob Dylan in Glasgow... elbowed our way to the front row just as he began, 'Like a rolling stone'!!
HAC: What are your desert island discs?
Chanelle: My Nana Mouskouri tape, Songs of the British Isles, (I've loved it since I was about 9yrs and I still have it), the soundtrack to 'La vita e bella (Life is beautiful)', and for some 90's love Belly's album Star.
Stefan: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Seven Swans by Sufjan Stevens, Doolittle by the Pixies, and as a guilty pleasure Roxette Look Sharp!
HAC: Here's that late night pub one. If you could only have two fruits on said desert island what would they be?
Chanelle: Forbidden ones of course! Oh and Lychees and some wasabi peas which are almost a fruit, they are green at least to be fair.
Stefan: My Granny Smiths as I can't get through the day without one! And my beloved nectarines.
HAC: And lastly, been reading any good books on your travels. I
(Chanelle) : Am always half way through an Austen novel! I did really enjoy 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' by Mark Haddon. Oh another great one was the 'Instruction Manual for Swallowing' by Adam Marek. Stef has been enjoying 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak and lots of historical fiction.
HAC: Oh, and if you see my friends Kevin and Ann-Marie, say hi!
Agnes Kain: Will do but it's kinda a big city ;)
Across the ocean grey released October 2009 Buy Now
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