Interview: Kite String Tangle

Hey Danny, how’s it going?

Yeah, good thanks!

Good to hear! You’ve been to a lot of festivals over the past year, and already have quite a few lined up for next year – what is it that draws you to festivals?

I think it’s very different to a club show because club shows are more intimate and the audience is more familiar with your stuff. At festivals you get a totally different experience. There are definitely those aspects as well but there’s also a bunch more people that have heard your name or have heard one song and come and check out the show anyway. So you get generally a bigger and more open crowd, which is usually pretty fun because everyone’s in that pack mentality of ‘I’m at a festival, this is going to be awesome.’

Yeah, that’s very true. So do you think you gain a lot of new fans by doing festivals?

I’d like to think so. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say that they saw me at Splendour or something and it was really awesome. They’re the moments people seem to remember a lot.

One of the festivals you’re signed up for is Mountain Sounds, which is only in its second year. What would you say makes a really good festival generally?

I think first and foremost the people. I tend to like a lot of the boutique ones such as Mountain Sounds, and there’s one in Queensland called Red Deer Festival, which has a limit of about 1000 people and everyone there is just so cool and consequently the atmosphere is awesome. It’s a type of neighbour relationship that everyone has with each other.

Nice! So did you attend a lot of music festivals before you were playing at them, when you were younger?

Yeah, I pretty much frequented every single one!

Cool! So now that you’re one of the main drawcards at these festivals, do you still get to hang around after you’ve been playing and experience the festival?

Yeah, definitely. Sometimes when it’s a touring festival, you have to play then go and fly to the new place and check into a hotel that night. But for one off festivals, and some travelling ones you get to hang out; you get your own room and some free beer.

Definitely the dream! I’ve always wondered, is there a community aspect to these festivals – do you get the chance to meet with the other Australian artists?

Definitely. The Groovin’ The Moo tour especially, I made really good friends with Peking Duk and Illy especially, and I see them around all the time now. They are definitely friendships that were formed through festivals. You start seeing their faces around and then you start getting chummy with them.

That’s really cool. So do you think that’s where a lot of collaborations form with other artists from those types of interactions?

Yeah. I mean I’ve done collaborations that way and I’ve also done collaborations where someone is reaching out because they like your music. But it is definitely conducive to a collaboration environment. Especially with electronic music, which collaborates a lot more than bands generally.

Does it ever get lonely considering you’re a one man band with Kite String Tangle, especially when you’re on a headlining tour?

It can do. Normally with my tours I have a support team that does either some of it or most of it, and I have crew as well that are awesome so I’m rarely alone. But travelling overseas was something because I didn’t really take many people, so that was a bit lame. I spent a lot of time reflecting (laughing). Soul searching.

Ah well, probably some inspiration for some future songs no doubt! So how does that compare with when you were touring with your former band Pigeon?

Yeah it’s super different. With Pigeon, we could egg each other on and it would be a very fun and party environment whereas this is quite different in that the music is more sombre and I take the project a bit more seriously because it’s my career and I feel very lucky to have gotten that given to me so I’m very careful not to take it for granted. So there are pros and cons of both really.

Did you ever consider making Pigeon your main focus, or was it just luck that Kite String Tangle became so popular?

It totally just happened. Kite String Tangle was just a side project. All the Pigeon dudes and me were away writing an EP when I wrote Given the Chance. I wrote it on the same trip and just released it. I even showed it to the guys and I asked what they thought and told them it was for a side project and they were like ‘that’s cool’ (laughing). Over time it just kept blowing up and it got to the stage where I couldn’t do both. I tried but it almost broke me.

Really? Was it just too much on at the one time?

Yeah I did a Kite String tour and a Pigeons tour in the same month and was 25 days straight of just consecutive touring. It was just way too much.

Sounds rough! Was that hard on the guys in Pigeon – was there any animosity because you had to move away from it or were they just happy you were being successful?

They were really cool about it to be honest, especially because it was quite a gradual thing. We got to talk about it at various different stages so it wasn’t too bad. Some of them have started their own projects, and everyone is figuring out what they want to do outside of Pigeon so in some ways it acted as a catalyst for us all doing different things. But it did stop us from being a band, which is kind of lame, but a necessary evil.

Would you ever consider reforming if it were possible in the future?

We’ve left it open, an indefinite hiatus. We’ll have to see how things go I guess. It would be cool cause I love those guys and we have a lot of fun together.

I guess with the success of Kite String Tangle it could be a while… Musically, do you think you’re able to do a lot more with Kite String Tangle than you were with Pigeon?

It’s definitely more ‘me’. There are no other influences and I can do whatever I want. There’s nothing stopping me from going in any particular direction. It is kind of liberating in that way.

That’s true. Another thing I’ve been looking at recently are your video clips, which I find quite stunning visually – especially the one for Stone Cold. Are you the main brains behind them?

Not really. I could say that I was but I’d be lying (laughing). That one was from a guy called Lachlan Dickie who’s amazing and has done a lot of other stuff that is equally stunning. That’s why we got him on board. We normally get a bunch of directors to pitch for the clip and his was so interesting you couldn’t really say no to it. I also wanted to something to contrast the popiness of the song to alienate the viewer a little bit.

Do you have much input or once you’ve approved it are you out of the picture?

I generally have a little bit of a creative input. I always have a chat with the directors and we go through the ideas and brainstorm a few things. But after that I pretty much hand over. I’m not too much of a visual person anyway so I’d rather leave them to do what they do best. For that one I was on tour for the whole thing anyway.

Oh okay, so it can even happen with you not even being there sometimes?

I mean I’d like to be there but sometimes deadlines get in the way.

I’ve noticed that a lot of your videos follow the perspective of a woman’s journey of some form – is that just a coincidence, or to do more with the subjects of your songs?

That’s a good question, I hadn’t actually picked that up myself. The nature of my songs are generally introspective and relationship based so it always makes sense to have it be evocative in that way and have very raw emotions. So I guess both a coincidence and thematic.

One of the things that got you some early popularity with Kite String Tangle was the cover of Lorde’s Tennis Court. How important do you think covers are in creating traction with fans?

I think it’s important to provide content at an early stage. Doesn’t matter what it is, whether it be covers or remixes or acoustic sessions. At an early stage you need to be putting stuff out that people can see and connect with a lot. It definitely helped me. All the little bits and pieces contributed to further the journey and my story.

That rise was relatively swift; do you feel you owe a lot to Triple J and the Unearthed Program?

It was a quick rise. I definitely owe a lot of it to Triple J, that’s kind of the culture we live in. But at the same time, a lot of hype came from blogs in the beginning. I think it had already racked up half a million views on SoundCloud and on the blog scene for a couple of months before Triple J added it. But when Triple J added it, it went exponential from there. I’ve been on both sides of the stick where you receive airplay and you don’t.

It’s a fine line isn’t it?

It definitely made it a little easier, that’s for sure!

With all the talk of streaming, illegal downloading and Spotify, is it hard to earn money as an upcoming artist?

Yeah it is but it’s also exciting because there’s heaps of ways to earn an income, it’s just small amounts of income spread across many different areas. If you’re business minded you get to think of creative ways of getting money from your art. If you’re not then you can just concentrate on the art, rather than using the art to earn money.

Great! Well that’s all we’ve got time for, but thanks again for agreeing to be interviewed. Good luck with everything!

No worries! See you later.