Okay, you may give a resigned sigh when we tell you that Kate Boy are yet another Scandinavian-based electro pop act, but you really shouldn’t. Here at Best Fit, we only ever bring you the music you really need to hear.
In this case, Kate Boy are one part Australia (singer-songwriter Kate Akhurst) meets three parts Sweden (Hampus Nordgren Hemlin, Oskar Sikow Engström, and Markus Dextegen) and they take the blueprint laid down by The Knife and add their own dancefloor pop twist. ‘Northern Lights’ and ‘In Your Eyes’ are wonderfully hard-edged pop songs with killer melodies and, in the case of the former, a soaring chorus that’s not just gloriously sing-along but also a powerful and confident statement of intent: “Everything we touch turns to gold”.
Here, we speak to the band to find out just how an Aussie singer ended up making music in Stockholm, and we unveil an exclusive Houses remix of ‘Northern Lights’.
Given you’re one part Australian and three parts Swedish, how and where did you meet?
We met in Stockholm; it was kind of like a musical blind date. Having heard no previous work from each other before we just met up and had a drink, after talking a while we couldn’t even wait until the next day to write our first song. We went down to the studio and wrote ‘Northern Lights’ that first night. We went “all the way” for a musical blind date.
Where’s the base for recording songs, and how often are you able to get together? Is it easy then to write songs when you do?
We have our studio in Stockholm and we work every day together. We all live in the city now so it’s as easy as it gets.
Kate, you’ve released solo music before, so how does Kate Boy compare to what you’ve done before, and is what you’re doing now truer to what music you want to release?
I’ve always been writing for other artists as well as finding a more personal creative outlet through my own music. I wrote my first album on my own, so this is the first full album collaboration I’ve ever done. I really believe four heads are better than one, not only for the sound but also for protection against my own self doubt. When I listen to something alone on repeat, it’s like I lose my ears after a while, deaf to what is good or bad. So I love having a team to pull out the best in each other.
There’s always talk of The Knife and other Scandinavian acts when people write about your music, but is it fair to say the sound of that band in particular has had an influence on Kate Boy?
We think it could be due to us being from Scandinavia, but we love The Knife, and we love anything that is twisted yet still has a pop sensibility. Maybe that is a Swedish music thing, yet Kate is from Australia and feels the same so maybe it’s just the style we love. Either way, it’s a huge compliment.
Influences – what music (or art/literature in general) has influenced the band over the years? Do you share an affinity for certain acts?
We are very inspired by the electronic sounds from the 70′s and 80′s and how they would mix organic and electronic, almost robotic ingredients. Electronic music pioneers like Kraftwerk, Peter Gabriel and Jean-Michel Jarre are very important components of the Kate Boy inspiration box. Also a lot of inspiration comes from things other than music. Film is something we all share a big passion for. There’s something about the concept that inspires us more maybe than specific sounds or words; that feeling when you enter a world and you want to stay there. We want the same feeling with our music.
You’ve taken the decision to do everything yourself, production, ideas etc – does that make it more difficult for Kate Boy, or does it free you up creatively?
Sometimes it can take longer this way, but it’s also so much easier to do it ourselves since it is our vision. We don’t fall into any misunderstandings or creative clashes. So it means we can keep it all in-house, clean and tight. It definitely helps that we are a team of four, we all sit in the studio and work video/concept ideas while producing, mixing and writing… it all happens simultaneously.
Can you tell us a little about the singles we’ve heard so far, ‘Northern Lights’ and ‘In Your Eyes’? What influenced the writing and is there something that links them thematically?
‘Northern Lights’ was the first song we ever wrote together, so it was symbolic and it made sense to release it first. It was written about a connection you have with somebody, when that feeling is something rare and precious. It’s all about never letting go of trying to turn things positive and to capture that moment.
‘In Your Eyes’ was one that needed time to grow to fully understand how we should treat it. It slowly opened up like a kaleidoscope, seeing the layers, colours, depths and facets, almost like an eye…It related to the song itself and to the human aspect in it. Both songs are tied in with the concept of connection. For us it’s important that we are able to connect with people through these songs and hopefully they can connect to us.
You’ve got a Taken By Trees remix; how did you meet Victoria and was she happy to remix?
Iamsound actually hooked us up with her. Victoria sent us her version which was such a fresh take on the song and we all loved it.
There seems to be a strong style aesthetic to Kate Boy: from the promo pics, the photo that goes with the single (an almost Grace Jones-style stance that suggests power) and the videos. Is this important to what Kate Boy is and does?
Absolutely. Our vision is clear and we know what we want. We never intended on it coming across “powerful” as such, but maybe that is a subconscious key. Knowing what you want can be a very powerful thing, the ability to be clear and focused. It’s so much easier to create that way. We’ve been lucky that we all share similar taste in aesthetics, so together we try to make something seamless and strong.
What’s next for the band? Can we expect an album soon?
We’re working on the album, and are going to release more singles and videos very soon. We are also booking in some gigs and festivals around Europe in the coming months.