When the opportunity arose to grab a chat with The Duke Spirit, we took it with both hands. After hearing new single ‘Blue and Yellow Light’ on rotation on BBC 6Music for the past few weeks, it was a no-brainer. The band’s new album ‘KIN’ will be released in the new year and it signifies a new era for the London band. They take a bold and defiant stance on the twinkling impassioned new cut. It’s a career defining moment.
We sat down with the band’s singer to discuss the new record further.
Charlotte, Bitter Sweet Symphonies: Firstly, thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. Where do we find you at this time?
Liela Moss: “Hi, I’m in London sat at my kitchen table. Its freezing outside but in that beautiful fresh way. Feeling cosy as hell in here.”
You’re running a PledgeMusic campaign in support of your new album. Direct-to-fan platforms have become a staple in the industry, have you found using PledgeMusic to be beneficial? A good way to connect with your fans on a different level?
“Well, its still a new thing so I’m not totally sure yet but it does seem like a more efficient thing to do – cut out the middle man – and offer some unique, d.i.y creations for people to treasure, as well as sell your album too.”
The title of the new record is KIN. Do the lyrical themes lean towards the familial in any way? Or is it more of a state of mind – the record embraces its intimacy, its connections with others?
“Its definitely fed by obsessive thoughts about separation, loss but always finds consolation in a kind of undefined Perennial Philosophy. Remembering, forgetting, putting an emphasis on the present moment to help a process of mourning. Thinking about my capacity to love the people I love. Then just standing in Autumn sunlight, holding a cup of tea, watching a bit of steam evaporate, absorbed in simple mysteries and feeling alright about everything. Realising that we all have to accept change because we are humans and that’ s possibly the whole fucking point of our existence!”
You brought Simon Raymonde in on the production duties; you’ve worked together before. Have you found that your professional relationship has grown over the years?
“We just feel more like friends, really. I babysat his cats once – after that, you have a kind of cat-respect-bond!”
Have you developed a unified language with each other, which makes the creative process flow easily between you both?
“A lot of gentle piss-taking and talking about coffee is mostly what flows between us! With a bit of serious analysis and short bursts of crying. But mostly piss-taking.”
Do you find that working with a producer that’s also been on the other side of creating a record, as the artist, makes it so much easier?
“DEFINITELY! There is a ‘knowing’ between somebody like Simon and us in the band, that he’s got to get the best out of you, and can steer you, but he isn’t the mastermind, the egotistical producer or the boss. He’s just the cool main man.”
You’ve been together for 12 years now as a band, a few line-up changes have occurred but it’s clear that your bond as a unit is unbreakable. Have you found that the dynamic within the group has changed over the years?
“Sure, the burden of responsibility and focus has kind of cycled around different members. We have all, ultimately, got a love of some sort for each other; we have a lot of history, things we have shared that nobody else has experienced, so we just feel interconnected I suppose. Even if a few weeks go by without seeing each other. I have partly grown-up with half of the band, so we are just close, forever, really.”
It has been a couple of years since your last release, when getting back into the studio to work on ‘KIN’, what was the feeling within the band towards working on new material – excitement, nerves, anticipation, a creative rush?
“All of those things, yep! A little bit of dread, too – knowing their will be a pressure on time to get through all the songs. But it was great in the end.”
‘Blue and Yellow Light’ is the first track to be revealed from the new album, why was this the song, that in your mind, had to be the first to be heard from the album? Was it always the first choice?
“I think it heralded a different approach and seemed like the more interesting song to come back with; the groove is very prominent, the electronic sounds are unusual for us, I’m singing in a high register which is not something I have done much on our albums…”
I saw you years ago supporting White Lies at their show in Manchester at the Apollo, when you play those types of venues that hold a lot of history within their walls, do you ever find yourselves looking back at the bands that have played there before?
“Not really, if I’m honest. I’m usually looking for the catering.”
We’re big supporters of new music here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies. Are there any new bands that have caught your eye recently?
“I enjoyed hearing Gwenno recently, she’s on Heavenly Records. I found myself turning up the volume to that Spring King single on the radio yesterday. Joe Gideon has a new album out – always enjoy his excellent lyrics.”
The visuals that are accompanying ‘KIN’ and its music videos are quite atmospheric. What’s your take on the art direction?
“Josie Ford is our lady who creates the imagery and she responds to lyrical and contextual cues with great dynamism, and adds a storytelling quality to the work.”
What’s the plan for the rest of the year? I guess next year is when it really gets serious again?
“Trying to work that out right now…A UK tour is in place for FEB & MARCH, we are hoping to get out further than that too! I want to organise a rural retreat kind of recording session too – and am shaping that up now, where the band and other collaborators will come down to the middle of nowhere, we all get to grips with playing in a big old house, a grand piano, big rooms, cultivate a feeling of being exiled from the city, and work on songwriting in a more extravagant way, like the band and some friends are marooned in a rural, sacred place and get lots of strange beauty brewing. That’s my plan for a few months down the line! I’ve got my eye on some spaces.”
The Duke Spirit’s new album ‘KIN’ will be released early 2016 and can be pre-ordered now exclusively at PledgeMusic here. The band will also be playing a special gig at the Islington Assembly Hall on 24th Feb 2016 to mark the release.