Interview: Kav Temperley

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Best known as the frontman of the Australian rock n roll luminaires, Eskimo Joe, acclaimed songwriter Kav Temperley is stepping out solo. Temperley’s highly anticipated debut solo album All Your Devotion, a collection of ruminating, thoughtful, and effecting songs from one of this country’s greatest talents, was released digitally and on vinyl on September 28.

To celebrate what is the culmination of years of hard work, Kav will be hitting the road in October and November this year, kicking off on October 5 at The Milk Factory in Brisbane, and moving through the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Belgrave, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Fremantle, Margaret River, before wrapping up in Bunbury at Prince of Wales on November 3.

Produced alongside Pip Norman (Troye Sivan, Jarryd James, Urthboy) and John Castle (Megan Washington, Vance Joy, Bertie Blackman), the album delicately outlines the arc of newfound romance; the rapture, with Pollyanna and Queen Of My Heart, the hesitation, with This Is The Love and Devotion, and the surrender, with High and When You Run. All
Your Devotion explores new sonic territory for Kav, as sparse and uncluttered production, reminiscent of pop and folk conventions, takes precedence over rock n roll ways. We caught up with Kav on the eve of the tour to talk about the record, his influences and more.

H2Z: Congratulations on the album. It’s nice to hear stripped down songs, especially where the nuances of the playing come through?
KT: Thank you so much, I really appreciate that. Of course, being a solo record, everything takes three times as long, but it was always my intent to do something a little less obvious, a little less bells and whistles, and just try and make the kind of record that I would want to listen to.

H2Z: When did you start getting the songs together for the album?
KT: I dipped a toe in a few years ago when I released an EP, there were 4 songs on it. Two of them are just me messing around with different kinds of sounds, and then the other two are a lot closer to what the record is. So, leading up to that EP I had been writing and getting some stuff together, since about 2014. But when it came to this record it was in 2016 that I really put my head down and got it happening. It was a process of a lot of demos then turning those demos into better sounding recordings in my own jam room. Then I got together with a wonderful producer from Melbourne by the name of Pip Norman and we went about creating the sound of a dead kick and snare sound, not unlike what you would hear on Neil Young’s record Harvest, but also keep it a modern record. So, we spent a lot of that time trying to get the right sounds, and once we were happy with the sounds everything else flowed out from there.

H2Z: Was it harder to not have the other band members to bounce off?
KT: It was a lot more challenging and it had a lot of highs and lows with it. Sometimes I believe that once you write a song you do need someone else to help you take that song to the next place and that’s what band mates can do in those moments. There have been times where I have come in with ideas and I just want to see it through, then the other guys have taken it on a completely different turn, and I fought it at the time, but then heard the final result and realised it was great. There were also times where I was certain I had a great idea and then when I heard it back, it sounded shit (laughs) and I had to go back to square one and start all over again, and that was a long process. There were times I would be in my little studio and just be really lonely, and just want someone to hang out with, and then there were some days when you were in there and you would just get a really good flow with an idea and it was so refreshing to be able to follow that idea through.

H2Z: With your song writing, do you describe yourself as a disciplined writer or you are they style or writer that waits for inspiration?
KT: No, I think unless you only want to write one or two records in your life, then you need to be a disciplined song writer, because thunder does strike, and those moments when you write those songs, are fantastic, and you always find yourself loving those songs a little bit more because you haven’t had to work as hard. But, some of the great songs I have written, I have had to go through every chord, and every lyric until I have got it right. It feels really exhausting at the time, but once I have forgotten about that and I listen to the final product, I really enjoy it. It’s a craft, you have to sit down and work at it every day. If you do that the process becomes easier. If you are just going to sit around and wait for inspiration, then you are going to be much more prone to writer’s block.

H2Z: Speaking of the songs, what songs came to you easily and what were the most difficult?
KT: There were moments, there is a song called “Sober”, and that was one of the first ideas that came to me. I was out for a walk, and these lyrics came to me, and sung them into my iPhone, and that was a really spontaneous moment. Then there was a song called “Queen of My Heart”, which was a similar kind of thing. I just went into my jam room one day, and I had the whole storyline on the tip of my tongue, and it just flowed out which was really satisfying. But then there were songs like, “High”, which I still really love and it’s like my tribute to Bill Withers, and that song I had the pre-chorus and the chorus but didn’t have the verse for a long time. Then I had this whole completely different verse, and I was singing it and it just sounded clumsy. Then one day I went in the jam room, and just jammed it out, and this whole other thing came out, and then I had to craft that into the rest of the song, and a lot more work went into making that song what it is, but I listen to it now and I love the place it has on the record.

H2Z: Its funny you mention High, it’s one of my favourite songs on the record, and the vocal intro sets the tone. Who is that singing with you?
KT: That intro was one of the first things that I had for that song. Before anything else. And the vocals are just a whole heap of layered Kav’s. And I recorded that idea super quickly with the intent of going back and redoing it, but I never did because it just sounded great. And while the title High is used as a metaphor for love and the person who brings me love, for the record, I smoked a joint before I wrote the lyrics for that one (laughs)

H2Z: So, I read as a child you were well travelled with some time in India as well as schooling in England, do you think that those memories and vibe of that time shaped the way you make music?
KT: But what it did shock me out of was bogan Fremantle in the late 80s and early 90s. To be living in Fremantle at that point in time, and while its always been a very bohemian and artistic community, it’s also got the legacy of AC/DC and all that about it. That point in time there were street gangs and bogans listening to Metallica, and I was kind of one of those guys, and my mum took me out of there and took me to India which showed me different kind of horizons. Then I met the kids from this school in England and they were amazing, just so socially and emotionally intelligent compared to the kids back home, so I knew I just had to be there. What happened was they had a really amazing music room at this school, so if you had a double class of math we would just run into this room and jam, and it sounds terrible to say this now, but being there I rediscovered people like Sting, and even though that like something much more guilty to like than Metallica or AC/DC, it was actually really good because what it did was, it took the blinkers off, because my approach to music in general, is no blinkers. You get into music and you try and listen to great songs that move you emotionally, but to say you are a part of one genre or do just one thing, I think is boring, you should be exploring all of it, all the time.

H2Z: Any final words for our readers
KT: I hope to see them at the shows and I hope they enjoy the songs and the stories behind the songs.

 

 

 

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