This is The Kit
This Is The Kit is the musical project of Kate Stables. One of time and change and careful listening. It has carried Stables from Winchester to Bristol to Paris (where she’s lived for the last 15 years), and across tours and festivals around the world.
Her 4th album ‘Moonshine Freeze’ was nominated for an Ivor Novello award in 2017. In early spring of 2020, just before everything got weird, Kate and her band of trusty companions, (Rozi Plain, Jamie Whitby-Coles, Jesse D Vernon, and Neil Smith), knuckled down to record what would become This is The Kit’s fifth album ‘Off Off On’.
It was released in October to huge acclaim with Uncut calling it the bands “most multi-layered yet subtle work so far” and the Independent naming them “One of the most original and musically gifted artists of today’. Acutely sensitive to the pulses and currents of life, ‘Off Off On’ shows Kate Stables to be a songwriter overflowing with ideas, ably crafting music of great beauty, of wonder and illumination, and seems one more step on This is The Kit’s journey to becoming once of the country’s most revered musical endeavours.
One of the most distinctive and innovative bands combining dance music and indie in the 200s and 2010s, London’s Hot Chip made their mark with the release of their 2000 debut, Mexico. The EP was a hypnotic wash of nearly subliminal, pulse-like techno beats, acoustic guitars, and plinky pianos, but the vocals were the true star of the show. The voices of Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard are a find study in contrast: Taylor’s dreamy, effortless falsetto cuts to the heart of the beauty of performers like Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake, while Goddard’s coo monotone sounds world-weary and gruff in comparison.
Self-released by Hot Chip in 2002, Sanfrandisco E-Pee dabbled in more playful sounds, from the beatbox dubbing of the title track to the closing notes of “Fanta,” in which Taylor pleads with the listener to “make sounds of the summer.” The group signed to revered N.Y.C. record label DFA in 2005 and released the Over and Over EP, as well as the excellent 2006 full-length The Warning, which was followed by a DJ-Kinck mix album in 2007.
Later that year, the Grammy nominated single “Ready for the Floor” heralded the arrival of Made in the Dark, which featured some of the band’s most focused grooves and poppiest melodies to date. The mellower One Life Stand followed in 2010, along with a remix collection later that year.
Hot Chip left DFA for Domino, which released the more uptempo, experimental In Our Heads in 2012 and the following year’s Dark and Stormy EP. The band returned in 2015 with Why Make Sense?, which found them reuniting with In Our Heads producer Mark Ralph and exploring sounds ranging from disco in ’90s R&B to post-punk.
Credit Karen E. Graves, Rovi. 30.08.2017
Fránçois and The Atlas Mountains
In 2003 the prodigiously talented Fránçois Marry, hailing from Saintes, turned up in Bristol with a trumpet in hand. Three weeks later after putting an ad in a shop window he was in the weird and magical band Crescent. Since then Fránçois has busied himself recording albums and EPs, released through Too Pure and Fence Records and has performed around the globe with Camera Obscura, Electrelane, Anna Calvi and King Creosote & Jon Hopkins.
Originally an open collective, Fránçois and The Atlas Mountains has become a four-piece band. Following a return to France and the release of their ‘Plain Indonable’ album cocked the ears of Domino Records. Matching French lyrics to African rhythms, the band’s distinctive songwriting is whimsically surreal with a real joyous side. ‘E Volo Love’ is a beautiful collection of Gallic chamber-pop and chanson with rich piano chords, shimmering electric guitars and an all-female polyphonic vocal group. Live, Fránçois has become a unique showman, propelling himself and band into spectacular swirls of electronically-endowed indie colour.
Based out of Cardiff, H Hawkline (Huw Evans) signed to the influential Heavenly Recordings (Beth Orton, Doves, Edwyn Collins etc) in 2014 and issued a compilation called ‘Salt Gall Box Ghouls’. Referring to this new album himself as “strange pop”, informed by Richard Brautigan and Paul McCartney’s Ram, Hawkline has crafted melodic and slightly surrealist music that falls somewhere between post-punk and psych-pop.
Having previously played with the likes of Foxygen, Gwenno and long-time cohort Cate le Bon H Hawkline announced a run of shows with Devendra Banhart, Aldous Harding and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard a number of festival appearances in 2017.
In June 2017 H Hawkline released ‘I Romanticize’ and followed this with a UK headline tour.
Bristol Fantasy Orchestra
Jesse D Vernon, maestro of many different hats, founded the Fantasy Orchestra in 2012. It started as the house band for a series of events in Bristol called
The Greatness Of The Magnificence which he’d been organising since the early noughties.
Jesse moved to Paris in 2005 but continued putting these events on in Bristol (as well as Paris). These started as band nights but soon evolved into a kind of themed open-mic event covering the work of artists such as The Doors, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground and Serge Gainsbourg, and other more open themes such as ‘The Wind’, ‘Sadness’ and ‘Whistling’. It was always easy to fill these events with great participants and they were always open for all to perform. But when it came to putting together a night of music by Ennio Morricone, Jesse realised he’d need to get a larger band together which included a choir and could cover most of the night’s entertainment. Thus the Orchestra was born. We dressed up in costumes which went with the mostly Western theme.
The event went so well it was repeated 5 or 6 times during 2012/13, and Jesse formed an orchestra in Paris. The band was having so much fun that we decided to broaden the repertoire, so Jesse added exotic music from the 1950s/60s by the likes of Les Baxter, Disney and Bollywood composers. The dressing-up aspect also became more diverse.
In mid-2014 we were invited to perform a set of David Bowie tunes at Bristol Museum, which was quite a sensation. Pretty much the entire orchestra and audience were dressed as David Bowie. That was how we started introducing rock music into the set. That autumn we performed a full set of Jimi Hendrix tunes, and in December some Argentinian Christmas music.
The repertoire is chosen mostly because the original version has great orchestration (such as many David Bowie tunes) and only a band like ours could recreate them. Jesse copies down the scores by ear and sticks to the original as much as possible, though he always has to add more instruments so as to give everyone something to do.
There are so many sets he’d love to add to the repertoire. Here are some he hopes to get the chance to orchestrate: Tropicalia; Velvet Underground; Doo-Wop hits; The Beach Boys vs The Beatles; a night of whistling; classic ballads including Nights in White Satin, Wichita Lineman, It Was A Very Good Year….
‘I’ve always believed strongly in inclusivity and the beauty of sharing music, and the Fantasy Orchestra exemplifies this. Everyone is welcome, and all benefit from this atmosphere. Both in Bristol and in Paris, the Orchestras are a very welcoming family and my only hope is that more people get to feel what it’s like to be part of something so beautiful, amusing and spiritually warming.’ –
Jesse D Vernon, May 2015 Beth Rowley
Hailing from Bristol, Beth Rowley is known for her rich soulful voice and love of Blues and Gospel. Following the success of her UK top 10 album ‘Little Dreamer’ in 2008, for which she was nominated a Brit Award, she’s now back after working on new material – a trio of EPs, the first ‘Wretched Body’ hit in 2013, with the second and third due to hit this year.
“I lived back in Bristol for 2 years, then London for past 2 years. I decided to get off the treadmill and to write and record new material on my own terms, regardless of however long it took. I’ve had the privilege of writing with some amazing writers, and musicians as well as developing my own sound and defining what I want it to be. I’m here again now and I’m very happy with the music I’ve been making.”
The period since ‘Little Dreamer’ has seen Beth’s film debut with the release of Oscar nominated Brit flick ‘An Education’, starring Carey Mulligan and directed by Danish director Lone Scherfig. Beth’s cameo role as the nightclub singer received rave reviews as did her theme song ‘You Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger’ written with collaborator Ben Castle.
Beth has appeared on stage with some giants of the music world including Burt Bacharach at the Electric Proms, David Arnold (James Bond), and as Angelo Badalamenti’s personal guest (David Lynch’s right hand man) at Ghent film Festival. Beth also performed at Willie Nelsons 4th July Back Yard Festival in Austin alongside Ray Wylie Hubbard. She also recently guested as main support for Laura Mvula’s UK tour at the end of 2013.
ThisisDA is a Bristol based rapper who really caught the attention local and national media in 2015 with his debut EP, Based Off Black. “ThisisDA is bringing us a throwback to that classic soulful rap we all miss” said the MOBO Awards Group of his debut, while Complex UK says he is “a lyricist exhibiting a conscious mind and technical proficiency to great effect.”
Hands of the Heron
Hands of the Heron is a fledgling folk collective from Bristol. With tight vocal harmonies at the core, they weave stories of love, loss and regeneration into vivid melodies layered with mandolin, flute, accordion, clarinet, double bass and anything else they can get their hands on. Their debut album ‘As We Lingered’ was released independently in October 2017 (available in physical & digital formats) and has been praised for its emotional honesty and intricate, unusual songwriting. They celebrated the release by heading on a little tour around the South, including a packed album launch at much-loved folk pub The Harrison.
Formed in late 2016, they recorded their debut album live to tape in spring 2017 following a successful Kickstarter campaign, followed by gigs at Bristol landmarks such as the Lantern, the Wardrobe Theatre, the Station, the Canteen and the Gallimaufry. They performed at Colston Hall’s Bristol Takeover in October 2017, and were selected by rising folk stars This Is The Kit as one of their top picks on the packed line up. Past festival appearances include Shambala, Boomtown, Valley Fest, Bimble Bandada, Brainchild, Big Love Festival and Frogfest (plus countless jams around bonfires). They’ve supported The Langan Band, Martha Tilston, Jackie Oates and Devon Sproule, with other exciting support slots in the pipeline for 2018.
Goan Dogs are a unique five piece enamoured with, but distinct from, Bristol’s rich musical heritage. Drawing from a vast array of influences, the bands cinematic sound is laden with rich harmonies and tales of the macabre. Their atmospheric live shows are renowned to captivate audiences with pulsating rhythms and striking visuals.