KITTY DAISY & LEWIS
Analog Portraits: Heike Schneider-Matzigkeit
Interview: Nathaniel Fregoso
Splendid Berlin meets up with Kitty Daisy & Lewis to discuss analog recording, working with Mick Jones and going on a mission in India to find their Grandfather’s guitar…
NF: You are getting ready to release your third album. Mick Jones produced the record. How did you meet him?
Lewis: We’ve known him from around London for a bit. And he asked us to play one of his nights before, years ago, which we did. We used to see him down at various clubs every now and then and then at the Notting Hill Carnival we said, “Do you want to come and listen to some music and produce a record?” He said he’d love to. So he came and we started rehearsing with him about four times a week for like five months. He’d come around every day and just play and hang out.
NF: So he’d jam with you guys?
Lewis: Yeah, because he just wanted to learn the songs, you know? And talk loads of bollocks and stuff. That’s how we sort of got him to produce the record.
NF: Did he have a lot of input into the writing of the record?
Daisy: Not of the writing. The songs were already written when we got him on board. But I think just having him there to rehearse with us really helped because he got to know the songs before going into the studio and kind of got to know what we were doing a bit better which really helped.
Kitty: Definitely helped with the arranging. It was kind of more working together rather than someone telling you it should be like this or like that. It was kind of just all putting ideas in together and it was just great having another set of ears, someone else’s.
NF: So there wasn’t a Phil Spector moment with a gun pointed to your heads to record a certain way?
Kitty: I’m sure he wanted to.
Daisy: We’re also using our own equipment. Analog stuff. He doesn’t really know how to use that, so in terms of the recording side it was all down to us.
NF: There were no computers or anything?
NF: Did you do it at your home studio?
Lewis: We moved out the home studio and built a new one which is slightly bigger. So a lot of the time spent rehearsing was because we were working to get this new studio finished. Which was good because it meant we rehearsed more. So we played it better I think.
NF: How long did it take for just the writing of the record?
Daisy: The writing kind of happened over a long period of time. We didn’t go, “Right, we have to write all the songs within this month or whatever.” It kind of takes time. You just have to be inspired by things. Or things just come to you. It’s kind of quite difficult to just sit down and say, “Right, I’m gonna write a good song”. It doesn’t really work, work for me personally, like that. So that happened over a couple of years I guess. So yeah, just start rehearsing and see where go.
NF: I’ve heard your single “Baby, Bye Bye” and I hear kind of a ska, but also a hip hop thing going on, maybe because of that beat?
NF: Is that the direction you’re going for on the record?
Kitty: I don’t think we’re trying to go any direction and all the songs are completely different, but it’s interesting that you should say that because if you hear a song, I think you interpret it in your own way. It doesn’t matter what the artist is trying to do or get across. It matters how you look at it and what you’re feeling when you listen to a particular song. As I say, all the tracks are completely different and that one’s got a little bit of a rocksteady feel, heavy drums and stuff.
Daisy: I guess we are influenced by hip hop and stuff like that as well. We don’t really consciously think of it that way but it ends up just coming out in the music.
Lewis: When we’re making the music we don’t think about what style is it. It just kind of naturally happens. I was playing the piano and Daisy was playing that drumbeat. It wasn’t premeditated. It was just kind of the natural way it comes out, you know.
Daisy: We just do it. “Ooh, that’s good. Carry on with that.”
Lewis: What fits in. That’s what goes.
NF: Is that how you decide who sings the songs?
Daisy: When we’ve written a song, we pretty much sing it ourselves. Except for one which my Mum wrote which me and Kitty sing. But that won’t be on the CD album, but it will be on the LP album as an extra track.
NF: What’s the name of that song?
Kitty: “I Should Have Known”. It’s like a gospel track. It’s cool.
Lewis: It’s actually one of my favorites but it didn’t make it onto the record because there were too many tracks.
NF: How many tracks are on the record?
Daisy: It’s quite hard figuring out what songs to drop and also Mick was quite adamant that he didn’t want 13 tracks because of the unlucky thing.
Lewis: Although the LP has 13. We didn’t tell him. We cut it. Maybe I’ll shut up.
NF: You’re all wearing crowns on the album cover. What was that inspired by?
Kitty: The idea was that when you look on the computer, when you look at iTunes or whatever, the image of someone’s artwork is quite small. I thought, that’s roughly the size of a postage stamp, so it would be cool to do the whole CD or the record like a postage stamp. But then we took the photographs and thought they looked really cool on their own. So we just went with those really.
Daisy: Their computer that they had, the photos kept popping up on it. It had a black background as well. So when they showed us all the photos altogether, that’s how it looked like on the screen. So we sort of tried different colors and loads of things, but then we thought, “Hold on. What we just saw on the screen was good!” So that’s why we ended up with the black background.
NF: Do you guys have to vote evenly when it comes to stuff like that. Creative decisions? Artwork?
NF: No one takes the lead?
Lewis: To do the artwork and all that almost took as long as the recording. Just because there’s so much emailing back and forth and forwarding. And because you’re working with computers there are so many variables. I did a mock-up and they did theirs and theirs was a bit blurry and washed out and mine was sharp and then it was like, “what’s going on?” and it would take weeks to sort out. So there was a lot of technical complications and during that there’s everyone’s opinions going in. Someone’s like “it looks fine”, someone’s like “It doesn’t”.
Daisy: Sometimes in the end you just go, “Ugh. That’ll do”.
Lewis: Give up. And then in the morning you’re like, “No. That won’t do.”
NF: Since this is for Splendid Berlin Magazine, I wanted to ask you, what does Berlin mean to you?
Kitty: It’s kind of like our second home in a way. We love coming here more than going anywhere else. Just because of the people and the bars and stuff. And the gigs are always amazing.
NF: So you like playing to German audiences?
Daisy: Yeah. It’s just got such a good vibe about it. We’ve got friends here and stuff. And I remember the first time we came here we played at the Admiralspalast. How many years ago was that? 5 or 6 years ago. And that was our first ever time in Berlin and it was this huge place and we turned up and we were like, “How do people even know who we are?” Let alone buy tickets to see our show and enjoy our music. And obviously it’s a lovely city.
Lewis: Yes, we’re always shown a good time.
NF: Do you ever have a chance to sightsee or anything like that?
Daisy: I’ve come over a couple of times for holiday. For weekend trips. Which is really cool because when you’re here doing gigs and stuff you don’t really get a lot of time to look around during the day, so that was really cool.
Lewis: We’re usually too hungover.
Daisy: We sleep as much as we can.
Lewis: Yeah, sleep it off.
NF: So you’ll be on tour for a lot of next year. Besides Berlin, where do you look forward to playing?
Kitty: America. Japan.
Lewis: I think we have fun wherever we go. We just turn it into a little party. I would like to go to India to play some gigs. We were gonna play there a while ago. But it didn’t happen, the festival got cancelled. It would be good to go back there at some point. We went anyway because they bought our tickets.
NF: But you didn’t play?
Kitty: We brought a couple of guitars and played at this karaoke bar.
NF: Did people know who you were?
Kitty: I don’t know? I think they were something to do with the festival maybe and we said, “Look we’re gonna bring some guitars.” Because our Dad is from there so we wanted to go back and play in the country where the music kind of came from. Which is really cool for us. And they were like, “Yeah, we’ll give you free booze and free food if you come and play at our little bar.” It was cool.
Daisy: We also went on a mission to find a guitar. My Dad grew up with this acoustic guitar that was in the family home and it kind of went missing and we heard that someone had it in an old people’s home. So we went and it was kind of like a nunnery.
Kitty: It was an old people’s home, but it was run by nuns.
Daisy: So we asked them if they had seen the guitar and they said “No, no. There’s no guitars here.” And then they rang us up and said, “We found it.”
Lewis: Our Granddad had given it away in the 1950s to an Uncle who wasn’t actually an Uncle.
Kitty: That’s our grandfather on the guitar.
Daisy: So they rang us up and said “Oh we found it!” So we rushed down there and filmed the whole lot. And then we saw the nuns walking up with this guitar and it turned out to be this really crappy 80s thing with stickers on it and we were like, “No.” It looked nothing like the one in the picture. So the search continues.
NF: So when you’re going on the road this year are your parents coming with you?
Kitty: Yeah, they’re in the band.
NF: Do you get pretty tired of each other?
Daisy: Not necessarily. We argue and stuff, but mainly we just kinda hang out and go for a drink. I think we’re all just so used to working so closely together.
Lewis: I get pretty tired.
Kitty: It’s good having our crew around us as well because they’re sort of part of the family. So it’s not just the family together.
Daisy: We got the crew who are just friends, so you got other people to talk to basically.
NF: Do you guys read or watch movies on tour?
Lewis: When you’re on tour there’s not much time to do that kind of stuff.
Kitty: In the van.
Lewis: You start sound checking, so there’s a lot of stuff to do and then get ready and then you start drinking and then that’s it really.
Daisy: On the bus and the van we chill out and watch a film.
Lewis: Anytime we do get some free time we go for a walk because you don’t get much exercise. If we get a couple of hours we walk around in the local town.
Daisy: I think we’re gonna be making more tour videos on the next tour.
NF: Posting them on your website?
Daisy: Yeah I guess so.
Kitty: Just put them on YouTube.
Lewis: I don’t know how it works.
NF: What’s on the Kitty, Daisy and Lewis rider?
Lewis: It keeps changing. To my Mum’s dietary requirements.
Daisy: Yeah she had some migraine things. She was on the peanut butter.
Kitty: But would never eat it though. It just went to waste.
NF: Peanut butter’s good for migraines?
Kitty: Apparently. I don’t know.
Daisy: Prawn sandwiches are always on the rider.
Daisy: Beer, cider, wine.
Kitty: Lots of booze, basically. Definitely whiskey.
Daisy: We used to have Jägermeister but that was a bit lethal.
NF: Last question. What are your astrological signs?
Kitty: I’m a Capricorn.
NF: You guys believe in that stuff? I’m from Los Angeles so I always think about it.
Kitty: What are you?
NF: I’m a Sagittarius.
Daisy: I don’t believe in it, but when you read it you want to believe it sometimes.
Kitty: And then you’re like “Oh my god! That actually happened!”
Lewis: Then if you read all of them you’re like, “Oh, they all apply to everyone.”
Daisy: Because everyone has every kind of personality at some point.
Lewis: I don’t think you can not believe in it. I don’t think anyone can say I don’t believe in this or this doesn’t exist. No one can say, “God doesn’t exist.” Because no one knows and no one can say that. I think it’s interesting to look at all that stuff. Sometimes you get into it. Depends on what mood you’re in. You’re like, “Yeah, that really means something.”
NF: Sometimes you’re like “I’m such a Leo” when you’re reading your horoscope?
Lewis: Sometimes you do stuff and people are like yeah that’s like a Leo thing. But yeah, who knows?
Kitty Daisy & Lewis play Berlin Columbiahalle on February 24th 2015
Live pictures taken at Roadrunner’s Club April 12th 2009 by Heike Schneider-Matzigkeit