Kitty, Daisy & Lewis: The 13th Floor Interview

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis just released their fourth album, Superscope, a couple of weeks ago.

When the three siblings began making records, almost a decade ago, they were known for their retro attitude. That attitude remains, although the scope of their music has expanded over the years.

The 13th Floor’s Marty Duda spoke to Kitty, Daisy & Lewis just as Superscope was being released. 

Click here to listen to the interview with Kitty, Daisy & Lewis:


Or, read a transcription of the interview here:

MD: You guys have a new album coming out, Superscope; is that right?

KD&L: Yeah. It’s out here tomorrow, but I’m guessing, because it’s Friday there, it’s out there today, even.

MD: That’s right. How are you feeling about it?

KD&L: Good! Really… excited.

MD: It’s been a couple of years since the previous album, The Third. Give me a little rundown of what you guys have been doing in the interim… two years.

KD&L: We spent quite a lot of time touring The Third, and then we started to record Superscope. We started off quite slowly, and then picked up pretty quickly. We finished recording it quite a while ago, but because there’s all the promotion, and all that kind of stuff, to do, there’s a long gap between finishing recording and it actually coming out.

MD: I’ve listened to the album. It sounds like – for want of a better word – a more mature batch of songs from you guys; I mean, you guys started out when you were really young, and I assume you’re all in your twenties at this point. How would you describe what the overall feel of the album is?

KD&L: Yeah, I guess so. It’s been a while since we did our first record, and all the rest of it, and that was nearly ten years ago; so yeah, a lot has changed, and we’re not little kids anymore. I guess, in a way, you could call it more mature. We’re always just writing whatever, and we never stick to one thing; so, we’re constantly changing it up and doing different things and different styles; so, it’s always different; there’s always something new going on.

MD: The album starts out with a funky track, and I assume its Lewis singing, called You’re so Fine; is it?

KD&L: Yep!

MD: Maybe you can tell me a little bit about that one.

KD&L: That track wasn’t actually intended to be part of the album – like, the main body of the LP – so, it was one of the last tracks we recorded. I think, when you’re compiling and album – choosing the running order – it’s quite a difficult thing, and everyone’s got different ideas about how it can start and where it goes through and where it ends. I think… it just seemed to be a good intro to the album. I think any of the songs could have been, really; that was just the one that made it there.

MD: Was the album recorded in your own studio, like the previous one?

KD&L: Yeah, same studio, but we changed a few little things around. I think the way we recorded it was a little bit different as well. I think, when we set out, we wanted to do it more live, but, in a way, ended up doing it more layered than the previous album. With the previous album, we were still figuring out the best way to do things, and I think a lot of the songs have a different sound on that one, because we were still figuring things out and improving as we went along. I think Superscope is a lot more consistent now, because we finally figured out the best way to do things. It’s often hard to get that with us as well, because, for example, we all swap around with the instruments constantly; so, depending on whose playing the drums, you’ll get a different sound, and you have to change the technique of how you record the drum kit, depending on whose playing it and what kind of song it is. We kind of spent a lot of time on that initially, and then, once we got that down, took it from there, really.

MD: How would you describe the difference between the three different drum sounds that you guys achieve between the three of you?

KD&L: For me (Lewis), the main thing that changes the sound on this record was  some of the songs we recorded at least two times before recording it a third time and going with it – like, we’d record it and go, “Yeah, that’s good,” and then the next day listen, or a week later, when we’d come back to it to do the overdub, and decide it wasn’t good enough. Then we employed using a click track, which really changes the sound…. That was one of the major contributors to the record.

MD: Did you guys produce it yourself, this time, or did you have somebody else in the studio with you?

KD&L: That’s right, yeah…. It was just us three, yeah.

MD: How do you guys divvy up the work between the three of you, as far as the production? Is it equal, or do you guys have different strengths and weaknesses among you?

KD&L: I think that’s what makes it an equal thing: because we all have… different pace and different ideas and different ways of looking at things, but it just seems to work. With the last record, there were a lot of people involved in it, so at times, it would get a bit complicated, and everyone having their own ideas and very set in their ways about what they wanted to do; so, it would get a bit hectic at times. This record… was literally just the three of us; so, I think it works a lot better – well, not better, just different; so, it was kind of easier to work in that way, I think. I (Lewis) think it also worked out if, for example, someone was doing a vocal or laying down a part in the live room, the people in the control room would be telling them what to do; and that makes it easier, because then you can focus on what someone’s telling you to play, and trust what they’re hearing in the control room, and then vice versa when you switch over.

MD: The second song on the album is a thing called The Game is On. Who is singing that one?

KD&L: Daisy’s singing that.

MD: What can you tell me about that tune?

KD&L: That one came about with me and my partner, as we do sometimes at two in the morning, just drunkenly coming up with stuff. We had this chorus, and most of the time you wake up in the morning, and you look at what you’ve written down or recorded, and you go, “Oh, God! What the hell were we thinking?” But with that one, I thought, “Actually, it’s quite good;” so, I wanted to do something with it, and made up the rest of the song; and I wanted to give it a ‘punky’, edgy feel, which we’ve really done before. We started using more guitars, and stuff like that; so, I think, yeah, I’m quite happy with that one; how it’s turned out.

MD: The new single: is it Slave?

KD&L: Yeah!

MD: That one has a disco feel to it I felt. I don’t know if that’s what you looked at it coming from.

KD&L: Yeah – this is Kitty speaking, by the way – yeah, when I was listening to a lot of funky soul that popped into my head. That was, maybe, over a year ago, maybe two years ago; and I just had this little guitar hook in my head, and built it up from that. It was just one of those songs that just nicely unfolded, and you didn’t really have to think about it too much, because it’s purely based on a groove, really, and a hook. I felt it was one of the first songs, that we went in with and started rehearsing in the studio with the band, that just unfolded quite naturally, I think. I remember showing Daisy the riff, and then she started playing a drum beat along to it, and it automatically sounded really cool. I (Lewis) think that’s probably the song that we worked on the most, in terms of working out parts and thinking about it and all the backing vocals. A lot of it came together in the studio; actually that’s probably right for most of the songs: most of it came together as we were recording it and layering it up, rather than being worked up. Often the case was we’d work stuff out and do it, and it didn’t quite work, and then we’d end up doing something else. I (Kitty) think that was one of the most layered tracks. Initially, I had a lot of parts in my head, but you don’t really know if they’re going to work until you actually lay them down and record them; see how they all piece together.

MD: You mentioned it has a nice groove: the other one that I thought has a really cool groove is the closing track – the instrumental. What’s it called? Broccoli Tempura?

KD&L: Yeah! That was probably one of the last tracks to be written, and me (Kitty) and Lewis were just mucking about, and we kind of needed a track for a B-side or a bonus track – as you need to do – so, we came up with this little riff. I was playing a drum beat, and Lewis was playing an organ riff, and we just wrote it on the spot; and we were listening back to it, and then laid down some guitar, and he really liked it; so, we put it on the album.

MD: The other song that I wanted to touch on was Love Me So, which, I think, is one that Lewis sings; kind of a bluesy track…. I was wondering if you could fill me in on… the story behind that one.

KD&L: I (Lewis) think that song just came about because I was playing the piano – and I was playing that chord progression, which is like a waltz – and I was just messing around with that. I think, sometimes, you just open your mouth and words come out, and then you just write it down; you’re like, “Yeah, that’ll do.” Then we started playing it, and… Kitty was playing guitar and Daisy was playing drums, and I think that… gave it a nice, solid beat and a sweet melody on the guitar, and then we just laid it down and put strings on top of it. We weren’t really sure if that was going to work at first, but it did, in the end. We had to do a bit of work with it, but I think… it breaks the album up nicely; to have a nice ballad along with Just One Kiss, which Kitty did. I see those as the two ballads on the record.

MD: Are you using actual string sections, or are they generated by synths?

KD&L: It’s all real instruments. Seeing as you don’t notice the difference, I think next time, we might have to just use the synths, then.

MD: Are you guys hitting the road, promoting the thing, travelling around? What’s the plan?

KD&L: We start the tour in a month. We’ve got our first date in London on the twenty eighth of October, and then we hit the road for a couple of weeks around Europe, and then we’re off to Japan in January, and then we’ll be coming to Australia and New Zealand in February. We’re really looking forward to playing the songs. As Lewis said earlier, we finished the album a while ago, but it takes a while for it to actually be released, and then when we tour it, it’s going to be really nice to see people’s reactions to the songs, because they’re old news to us. Obviously, people haven’t heard them yet; so, it’ll be really cool.

MD: … Because you guys started out when you were so young, do you still have to deal with people thinking of you in terms of… being teenagers? Do you find that people still have that kind of image of you when they’re talking… and writing about you?

KD&L: I (Daisy) think that’s inevitable, really, because, for example, if you look up Kitty, Daisy & Lewis on the internet, you’ll get pictures of us when were twelve and interviews we did ten years ago; so, you can’t really escape that, I think, because that’s all that’s out there, really. That’s why it’s good for people to come to gigs, because they actually see what it is; what we’re all about. I (Kitty) think that the hardest thing to escape is that fact that we’ve done a lot of albums now, and it’s been a long time since the first one; people find it hard to believe that we’re not doing exactly what we did on the first one. We have changed quite a bit, and, obviously, we’ve started writing our own songs, and there are some people who judge our current music and compare it to the old stuff. The way I (Daisy) see it is that you can’t really compare it, because it’s like me asking you, “what were you listening to,” or, “What music were you playing when you were twelve?” It’s completely different to what you would be doing now. That’s what we get asked all the time, and people just assume that you do the same thing over and over again for seventeen years.

MD: Must be somewhat frustrating.

KD&L: (Daisy) Yeah, but, you know, what can you do, eh? (Lewis) Show business, baby!