Meet The Black Kites

The Black Kites

The Black Kites are four piece band that hails from the west. They are currently shooting a music video for the song “Paper Heart,” which is off the Paper Heart EP. Recently I had a chance to ask them a few questions about music and the development of their upcoming album, which is scheduled to be released this fall.

How did you find your love for music?

Marcel: Well, I guess I didn’t actually start taking music seriously enough to play until I was 15 and decided with a couple of high school friends to start a band. We were inspired by the Velvet Underground, Flipper, My Dog Popper, and Jimi Hendrix. We were The Zelnick Experience. I got stuck with the drums because I was the only one who couldn’t play anything – and I never looked back. Sometimes I think I’m still the one who can’t play anything, but I can do that a whole lot better than I could in high school.

Alan: I started playing guitar with my brother, Chris, when we were both in elementary school.  By the time we got to high school we had our own Allman Brothers clone band.

Nicki: I started playing guitar at 13, playing along to the Lemonheads and practicing my moves in my bedroom. 

 The Black Kites live at the Viper Room

Your music is very soothing and easy to listen to, it’s what I would call driving music with a kick, has it always been this way? What are the twist and turns your sound has taken along the way?

Alan: The sound has definitely taken some turns. In the beginning, it was just Nicki and I on bass and guitar respectively, backed by a couple 70s drum machines we’d drag around. When Evelyn came in, adding not just her voice and vocal approach, but keys as well, the sound developed immensely and really started to get more dynamic. Adding Marcel’s driving hits became the last piece of the puzzle. It’s very much a group sound, and not just one person.

Marcel: For me, I feel the dynamics have slightly changed since I joined the band – which was just over a year ago. I think I tend to add a bit more of that kick – especially in a live situation. But yeah – we often get lumped in with this whole “shoegaze” genre, but I like the idea that we don’t really gaze at our shoes, we kinda just hit that gas pedal with them.

Evelyn and Alan, your voices sound absolutely amazing together, truly a vocal combo made in heaven. Who writes the lyrics, one or both of you?

Alan: It’s a combination of us both. I’ll often write the lyrics and then bring them in to the rehearsal space and let Evelyn sing what I’ve got. Then we start tinkering with them to shape them to how she sings it, or feels it. Often times she has some lines or images that get incorporated early on. Either way, the music is usually finished first, and then the lyrics are written.

 The Black Kites live at the Viper Room

About a week ago I heard that you’re going to be shooting a music video, which song will it be for? What will be the video’s main focal point?

Alan: The video is for Paper Heart.  The main focal point would be Evelyn meets “Wings Of Desire.”

Marcel: Yeah. It’s like our first un-official “single”. We’re definitely excited to do this, and it’s definitely interesting trying to match up a visual world with the sonic world we have in our heads. I think the main focal point is open for interpretation – everyone will manage to take different things from the video, the song – but I feel as well as touching on loss, heartbreak, and finally saying goodbye – there is an underlying feeling of movement, change, and growth. Becoming who you truly are and rising above who others see you as – but again – that’s just me.

Nicki: And, on top of all of that, we are going to try something new and dress all in black.

Marcel: Our first pre-planned attempt at band-fashion cohesiveness.

What’s your set up?

Alan: Drums, bass, couple keyboards, and a guitar.

Nicki: And, of course, red wine.

Have you been writing any new songs lately? How is that going?

Alan: Definitely been writing new songs. It’s going very well, as far as I’m concerned. We’re working on them with an ear towards recording an album later this year.

Marcel: We’re kind of in the middle of two new songs – and it goes. It’s a very different method of songwriting for me, because my last band was extremely prolific in comparison – fast riffs, fast decisions, and it was like one or two new songs every couple of weeks. Here it’s more drawn out and thoughtful. I’m not saying it’s better or worse, mind you –just different. I think I just get impatient.

Nicki: Yes, sometimes it seems to go a bit slow.

What can people expect to be different or the same about your full length album coming out this summer?

Marcel: I have a feeling, that compared to the last two EPs it will be closer to that “Driving with a Kick” sound and less of the “Soothing and Easy to Listen To” thing. I’m not saying it’ll be all noise and chaos, there will still be great attention paid to the melodies and lyrics and lush movements – but I think there will be more of a spin towards some upbeat rhythms and solid pop hooks –without losing any of the vocal beauty or ethereal moments.

Alan: The album will be along the lines of the Paper Heart EP, but even more amazing and spiritually nourishing.

Marcel: Yeah – that’s what I meant.

Is there any meaning behind the name “The Black Kites?”

Marcel: The band was already named when I stepped behind the drum kit, and I’m still not sure if I picture flying paper kites or those birds of prey kind of kites. It could be a combination of the two, like kids flying dangerous birds.

Alan: I was born in Australian, where black kites (the birds) are commonplace. I also loved the image of a sky filled with black kites (the kind with the string). And kites have an electric connotation (via Ben Franklin) that I thought was cool.

A big thank you to The Black Kites for taking time out of their busy schedule to chat with SerTop. If you want to buy one of their EPs, you can download it off itunes or contact Nicki by email for ordering information.

Upcoming Shows:

March 5th Live in Los Angeles at the Silverlake Lounge

March 21st Live in San Francisco at Café Du Nord
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One Response

  1. […] Meet The Black Kites […]

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