Friday, 13 February 2009

To a Sky Lark

Leeds triumvirate, Sky Larkin, have had quite a year, with some impressive support slots (Conor Oberst) and mentors there to guide them (producer John Goodmanson and Death Cab for Cutie have mucked in).
Now signed to Witchita (home to the likes of Bloc Party, Les Savy Fav and Bessie mates Los Campesinos’) the band look like they’re in safe hands.
Those Sky Larkin birds are however a difficult breed to try and track down. GIITTV were hoping for a lil bit of chat time before christmas loomed, unfortunately it wouldn’t be until January when I was finally able to nab a conversation about the new album ‘Golden Spike’ and what the future holds for the band.
I knew I was cursed from the moment my train was delayed by an hour. After having finally scheduled a phoner interview with the band, my car then broke down preventing me from getting to the necessary tools in order to record the interview!
Eventually I managed to transcribe the interview and write up a piece only for it to be lost in the expansive cyber universe! The Gods just did not want the message of Sky Larkin to be spread.
Excuses, excuses, excuses, you say…ne’er fear after many obstacles and torturous hours I bring you a brief but insightful interview with front women Katie Harkin who was ever so gracious and lovely in spite of the misfortunes that plagued the interview, the women is a true professional. Enjoy it, I walked slowly over hot coals and ash to bring you this…sort of.

How would you describe the sound of the album?

Katie: Well when we went to Seattle to go and record it we met (producer) John (producer John Goodmanson) just as we were straight off the flight and we were incredibly jet lagged and we were trying to have a constructive conversation and I think the only words that I could get out of my mouth in my jetlagged state were ‘RAW’ and ‘FULL’. ‘I want it to sound really full but also really raw at the same time’. I think that’s was about as far as I could get, and I think that’s how it sounds.
The fun of being a three piece is that, ‘cos they’res only sort of a limited number of things going on at one time, you have to make each of your parts as full as possible without overplaying.

How did you find the recording process did it all go pretty smoothly, were there any amusing anecdotes you can share?

Katie: Well we went to two different studios we went to Death Cab For Cuties studio, they lent us us drums and amps and stuff like that for recording the basic tracks ‘cos we only came over with the standard baggage allowance. Nesta managed to break five snare drums in one day. He broke nothing until the last day that we were there then he managed to break five in one day.
We went to johns to do vocals and sort of extra bits and pieces and John had just moved into this studio that he was halfway through building and the vocal booth that he had was in an old broom cupboard it was so hot in there that if I had the light turned on, it was too hot, so I had the light turned off and had to sing in the dark.

Did you find that had any impact on you’re vocals at all?

Katie: It’s always a bit schizophrenic like singing and then lifting back to yourself and then being like, yeah I’d like to keep that or whatever, it’s always a bit maddening. So yeah I did go a bit loco.

Who would you say were your kindred spirits within the industry?

Katie: There’s bands that we’ve toured with and played with a lot. We’ve toured with Los Campesinos a couple of times and we’re just about to go on tour with Johnny foreigner. We’re all kind of around the same age and we all play gigs together before any of us had albums out.

You’ve kind of grown and developed together?

Katie: Yeah definitely. Johnny Foreigner are coming along with us touring Europe.

What about the name Sky Larkin? I was trying to find some sort of reference and wondered if it was inspired by a love for Percy Shelley (in reference to Shelley’s poem ‘To a Sky Lark’)?

Katie: It’s funny ‘cos I started the idea for the band when I was living in London and I went to meet my friend Simon, I said to him I wanted a band name that sounded positive and hopeful and kind of ambiguous, like it could be a person or a band at the same time. He just suggested it, you can’t think of anything more expansive and universal than the sky. Plus my last name is Harkin so it’s a pun, which is always good.

Good wordplay. Where do you see Sky Larkin going in the next year?

Katie: I don’t know exactly what we’re doing in the next three months, but I know that we’re gonna get to go back to a lot of the places where we were lucky enough to do support tours last autumn like Conor Oberst. We went to places we never expected we could go and now we can go back to those places, it’s gonna be nice to go back to Switzerland and places I never really imagined we would play and I guess every musicians aim is to have a record out. When we first started out our goal was to have a 7’’ single out and maybe to play a gig in another country and beyond that everything is just a bonus.

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