Songsmith Kim Churchill is hitting the road this month with album ‘Weight_Falls’ just released. He spent 18 months working on the follow-up release to breakout LP ‘Silence/Win’, but the resulting record felt too polished and he threw it out and started again. The result sees a new sense of adventure and unpredictability to Churchill’s music with chopped-up drum samples, unusual harmonies and disarming lyrical honesty. Samantha Morris caught up with the wandering troubadour about his upcoming tour and exactly what motivated him to throw all those songs out and start again.
It’s pretty obvious you love to travel (seriously though, who doesn’t?). How does this wanderlust fuel your songwriting?
Well, calling it ‘fuel’ is a pretty good start. It’s always worked in a beautiful, cyclical way for me. Playing music has allowed me to travel a lot, and then the places I go, the cultures I live in and the experiences I have really inspire and colour in the sketches of my songs. I think if you can be honest enough to accurately describe how it’s all making you feel, then it’s a great wellspring for interesting songs.
We all know now about the new album ‘Weight_Falls’ and the difficult process you went through of throwing out the first effort entirely and starting all over again. How did that happen? What exactly was going on for you that you felt you had to do that?
I think throughout the first attempt I was feeling a little uneasy. Just a gentle sense of pressure to do a better job than I had done on the earlier album. Basically, I just made it a bit too ‘grand and full on’. It’s like it was trying ever so slightly too hard. It made me uneasy and I continued to work harder and try harder on the material in the hope that that uneasy feeling would go away. Eventually I realised I needed to put it down. It was oddly liberating and I was charged by the decision. I wrote the next album in a week and it felt perfectly imperfect. I didn’t get in the way of the integrity of the music.
You say that “growing up” helped you evolve your sound. How exactly do you think you’ve grown up and how exactly has your sound evolved?
Well, I’ve been living out of different camper vans across a bunch of different continents for about eight years and that’s definitely lead me into a lot of interesting and challenging situations. I have made a lot of mistakes and had some pretty hairy moments. I think all of that has helped me a lot with songwriting and really put me in my place sometimes. In general, I think just writing a few hundred songs has helped too. Loads of rubbish ones in there that taught me a lot.
You’ve just done a bunch of in-store performances and busking sets. It seems like it’s important to you to stay connected with fans at a grassroots level. Is it hard to juggle big festival sets between these intimate shows?
Nah I love that bit. Its all fun for different reasons and the busking and in-stores were really cool; kinda rad to do small shows and play on the street. Quite humbling and the lack of pressure makes for some really different and inspiring versions of tracks that happened spontaneously. On the other hand, the festivals are amazing because the whole crew is there and the lights are epic and the crowed is pumped and the sound is huge. That’s a totally different rush. I love having both.
‘Weight_Falls’ has been called a “triumph” by some media outlets. Do you feel you have to constantly out-perform each prior release?
Yeah, for now anyway. I want to be excelling at my craft and consistently pushing myself to learn more. But as I said earlier, I’ve found I need to let things be and let the music breathe. Trying too hard to outdo myself doesn’t really work. I just gotta keep learning and then trust in the songs I’m writing.
You’re about to tour Australia with the new album, how do you think people will react to your new songs?
I felt pretty good about the tracks translating well live when I was writing them. They just had a lot more life than the other album. They were a lot freer and a lot less serious. I’m hoping they go down well. We shall see. I’ve got the double drummer thing happening along with my normal one-man band thing and that’s pretty exciting.
_ _ _
Kim Churchill is at Soundlounge on the Gold Coast, Friday 27 October and ‘Weight_Falls’ is out now.