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Feature Interview: The Paper Kites

In anticipation of The Paper Kites’ latest release, States, AAA’s Navarone Farrell caught up with the band’s drummer, Josh Bentley, to talk shop. 

The name of the album, States, where did that come from? 

The whole concept of this album is states of mind, so that’s where States come from, sort of being about songs coming from when you’re in different states of mind; life in general, relationships, jobs, you have different states of mind for all these things. These songs carry that theme amongst them.

How was recording with Wayne Connolly at Sing Sing? 

We recorded our second EP there with Wayne, so it was great. Being from Melbourne it’s just down the road, so it’s very handy, great to just set up shop, do our thing and walk home. Some great music has come out of there; we were really honoured. Sing Sing has a big history. Wayne was our father figure in the studio… he took us under his wing and worked us, took control and recorded everything for us. He did so much for us on Young North.

Can you tell me about the songwriting process—all related to states of mind? 

Sam, our lead singer and genius song writer, has a real knack for coming up with lyrics, chord progressions and the musical content for us, so he went away for two weeks, out to a place in country Victoria. He went out there with a new album in mind, and he came back with all these songs, more than we expected, which was really great. I guess he was writing from a place personal to him, different states of mind on the mind, and that’s how it came about. That being said, we do all come together and have our own input—he comes to us with the shell of a song and we workshop it from there. 

States is more ethereal and dream pop than your previous releases, how did this evolution in sound happen? 

The sound for us, in particular, we feel like we’ve matured as a band, from playing live so much together, it’s kind of cliché, but we’ve grown up a bit. We’re a pretty young band, especially when we put out our first EP. It’s a bit more atmospheric, but the rest of the songs are still what our fans are used to. We still have a lot of folky vibe in there. I think this new album is a good stepping-stone for us, and maybe indicative of what’s to come. 

There’s been a big boom in Australian folk music in the last couple of years, why do you think that is? 

I’m not really sure, as a band, for us, we don’t really aim to stick to a genre, but being called folk, that’s great, but it’s not a label we put on ourselves personally... I guess the Mumford and Sons movement, and it sort of filtered down from there. 

You guys have a huge fan base, what have you guys done to maintain that?

Like I said, we’re a pretty young band, so I guess the key thing for that is to keep it interesting. Facebook, YouTube, social media’s been a big influence in getting fans, especially for all bands these days, for keeping in touch with fans and figuring out what’s working. Online has been huge for us, especially our videos, we have a couple of million views. It’s been a great step from local to national to international. New music, new news, pictures, a lot of people like to see what you’re doing—Instagram, it keeps fans on their toes. We like keeping the fans in the loop. 

The video for ‘St Clarity’ is beautiful, can you take me through the making of the videoclip? 

Exciting to get it done, with our videos we like to direct it and come up with the concept ourselves, which we’ve done this time as well. We worked in conjunction with a director called Natasha Pincus, who is a director here in Melbourne, and she really brought the clip to life. We came to her with this weird bubble concept, which Sam came up with, he was doing some research and bubbles and liked the idea of having them in a film clip. We contacted this French guy, Sylvain Letuvée, who is a bubble artist, so we got him to fly over and film this amazing videoclip with Tash and her team. We are normally on site and help direct it, but this time we decided to relinquish control and hand it over to Tash. She did a fantastic job, she has sort of given the song an official component, so when people watch and listen, they get this really cool vibe. The feedback has been great online, people are really digging it.

You’ve got the national tour scheduled for Australia, ten days, what are your favourite places to play? 

Ohhhhhh…. Brisbane. I’ve got family up there so I like getting up there and hanging out with them. Perth as well, Perth is a really beautiful part of Australia. I haven’t been there with The Paper Kites before, go hang out on some beaches and stuff. Those two are probably on the top of my list of places to go. But it’ll be great to just get back out on the road, in touch with the fans, and visit our friends which we have all over the place now, so it’ll be really great.

After that you’ve got the North America tour with City and Colour… 

Yeah, it’s great. We’re over the moon to hear we landed that. It was a real jaw dropper. We weren’t expecting to get a tour of that size in America so early in our career, so we’re stoked to be heading over there. 

How do you think the North Ameriacn reception to the Paper Kites will be? 

Hopefully really positive. Most of our music is going straight over to North America according to stats, so we’re just hoping that people will get out to shows. We’ve never toured the States before, it will be a different experience, we’re really excited to get out and just play to a different audience, and I’ve never been there before, so I’m stoked.

And after all the touring, what’s on your agenda? 

Hopefully a bit of a break, maybe some of the Australian summer festivals, that would be great, and then probably back to the States and Europe after Christmas. And a possible Australian tour again early next year.

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