Blemishes is the first EP by Kib Elektra, and the inaugural tape from our kindred label Bezirk. Kib – real name Abi Bailey – is a one-woman bass playing, singing and producing tour de force. Blemishes has that feeling of unfettered outpouring that debuts sometimes possess – in this case a restless torrent of ideas held together with clattering DIY rhythms, soaring vocals and startlingly lush stereoscopic production. We were lucky enough to chat with Abi about her music and a brilliantly percussive mix she’s put together for us, which spans pop, ambient, post-hardcore and beyond…
Kit Records: We first met when you played bass for Auclair at her launch party back in 2014. How has it been moving into centre stage, taking control of production and singing on your own stuff?
Abi Bailey: Hey Kit! Thank you for having me. Playing for musicians such as Auclair has been wonderful and massively inspiring. Auclair has a charming way with lyrics, super interesting harmonies and rhythms that turn your head inside out when you’re learning them – really amazing stuff. Five years of this sort of work has basically saturated me with inspiration and the time came for me to write.
Regarding production, it’s always been something I love, and I have always been certain when it comes to the sound I’m after. The process of producing and writing the ‘Blemishes’ EP initially involved experimenting with the technology available to me now as it had been ten years since my last proper flow of writing. After some time brushing up and getting to grips with my tools I then started to see what came out, without judging anything. My thinking was It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece – I just have to like it.
As a session musician I found I learned a lot from singing backing vocals alongside brilliant lead vocalists. I never really belted anything out properly until I started writing the EP. I found that when I was in the frame of mind to just experiment, I discovered I could actually sing really quite high!
KR: Can you tell us a little about the songs you’ve chosen?
AB: So I’ve selected some tunes I feel relevant to the Kib Elektra project. I’ve not listened to very much new music in the popular/alternative realm for quite a few years, so the majority of the selection is from back then. To give a bit of context the mix starts with some electroacoustic works and soundscapes mixed with some other more popular stuff, drawing on my years studying electroacoustic composition. I’ve snuck a Sylver Tongue track in there too.. I love Charlotte’s otherworldly vocals in that piece. The Hermeto Pascoal piece featured towards the beginning is bonkers.. he’s an absolute genius. I tried out the technique he uses of transcribing spoken word once for fun – eventually it turned into the ultimate track on my EP, even when the original part had disappeared.
I’m a fan of crunchy angular drumming and also the glitchy drum programming heard in some electronica examples here. I’ve included the classic and wonderful Aphex Twin track Vordhosbn – this really blew my mind when I first heard it, and Alembic, who has sampled West African dun dun’s and bells in his track. I decided to feature this sort of thing quite a bit in the mix as I’ve been enjoying working on my drum programming and percussion for this record. I’ve also hinted some little snippets of other relevant stuff here and there. I am a massive fan of Fugazi, Tortoise and Slint. The heavy energy you often hear from them is something I grew up admiring. I’ve always appreciated this heaviness in different styles of music be it maracatu, post rock, math rock, soukous, rumba.. I try to incorporate this weight into my own writing.
The middle section of the mix calms down a bit. Ricardo Gomes’s track Alongo mesmerises me with his repetitive deep voice. He manages to conjure both a reassuring lullaby and some sort of eerie madrigal in the same breath. Towards the end of the mix you’ll hear some more contemporary sounds I’ve managed to pick up over the past year or so.. I really respect Connan Mockasin for the distinct sound he’s crafted, and I love the heavy bass featured in Sylvan Esso’s track. Deep synth bass is something I enjoy, especially in contrast to a refreshing female voice…the two are like cake and tea The penultimate mix track is one I heard on the radio last year and caught my ear, with it’s brilliant and proudly sharp vocals. I’ve not heard much else from U.S girls but felt like sharing this one here.
KR: And what is next for you and Kib Elektra?
AB: I have to admit I don’t have a solid plan for what’s up next. I’ve started writing a few tracks and it’s quite likely I will finish another EP over the next few months or so. I can’t really envisage writing a full album at this stage.. though once again, I’m going with the flow of wherever the writing takes me – never say never! I am also due to work with electronica duo Neuschul very soon, recording some vocals to a couple of their tracks.
You can buy the brilliant Blemishes HERE.
Martin Stig Anderson – Rabbit At The Airport 1
Luc Ferrari – Chicago USA Rehearsal For A Concert
Boards of Canada – Telepath
Hermeto Pascoal – Som Da Aura
Sylver Tongue – Faraway Sun
Brian Eno – Lantern Marsh
Midnight Davis – Buried
Aphex Twin – Vordhosbn
Alembic (feat. Kib Elektra) – Astro Bloom
Flying Lotus – Beginners Falafel
Afrocuba De Matanzas – Yemaya – Eleggua
Battles – HI/LO
Tortoise – Seneca
Brian Eno – In Dark Trees
Alhaji Ayinla Omowura and his Apala Group – Side 1
David Bowie – Warszawa
Godspeed You Black Emperor! – The Dead Flag Blues
Fugazi – Intro
Ricardo Gomes – Alonga
Burial – UK
Three Trapped Tigers – 9
Slint – Good Morning Captain
Rival Consoles – Ghosting
Tunng – Hanged
Talking Heads – The Overload
Connan Mockasin – Nothing Lasts Forever
Anna Calvi – Piece By Piece
Sylvan Esso – Hey Mami
U.S. Girls – Damn That Valley
John Wizards – Leuk