Arts

David Kitt back in Derry to headline Samhain Sessions Halloween concert

Ahead of headlining the Samhain Sessions at Derry's Guildhall this weekend, David Kitt chats to Jenny Lee about getting back to basics with his new album, experimenting with electronic music under his alter ego New Jackson, being part of David Gray's band and his plans to team up with Tim Wheeler

Dublin singer-songwriter David Kitt headlines one of two gigs in Derry this Halloween as part of the city's Samhain Sessions

HALLOWEEN may not be his favourite season, but Dubliner David Kitt promises to open his soul and rattle some bones as he headlines Derry's Samhain Sessions concerts.

Kitt is no stranger to Derry – in fact, he says "Derry's probably the place I play most outside Dublin. There is great energy up there and a deep love of music."

Although he likes the dressing up aspect of Halloween, he admits the festival scares him.

"I never really liked it as a kid, especially the bangers going off. I guess I got a fright," he laughs.

For the gig, he promises no disguises, instead an offering of "pure David Kitt" as he takes his music "back to basics" and re-engages with his folk roots.

Having launched his debut album in 2000, Kitt's early success and critical acclaim didn't translate into commercial success. This year saw a soft release of his first album since The Nightsaver in 2009, as well as a more dance-orientated electronica album, under the guise of his alter ego New Jackson, in April.

Despite The Nightsaver being enthusiastically reviewed, it sold a fraction of The Big Romance eight years previously. Kitt admits his confidence was knocked.

In the interim years he supplemented his income by playing guitar for other artists. He was a member of David Gray's touring band for 18 months, where he "provided texture and warmth" to Gray's sound. Prior to that he recorded an album with alt rock band Tindersticks.

"I learnt a lot from my experiences of playing with other people. They have big professional operations and different methods of creativity and sometimes you just need to take a break from the pressure of asking so much of yourself and find inspiration and fulfilment again."

Kitt will release his new album in February – a reworked version of Yous which has been "tweaked". It will receive an international release through All City record label and the artist is feeling optimistic about it's prospects.

"There's a good feeling around the record and a lot of positivity. It's hard for me to get that going when you know you've made some great records in the past and they haven't done as well as you thought they could. I've a good team of people surrounding me and when you have people around convincing you that this is worth a proper go, it's infectious."

Although he struggles to describe his "constantly changing" sound, Kitt explains that with his Yous album he has tried to rediscover his essential sound.

"Sometimes when you work away on your own you can layer and layer and have background noises that only your ears can make sense of. So I wanted the Yous album to be essential and stripped down a little bit.

"With New Jackson I'm getting my fix with all the production stuff and I don't need to do it with the David Kitt stuff. So I'm just getting back to playing the guitar and singing."

On the album and live gigs he is accompanied by talented violinst Margie Lewis.

Kitt, a son of former Fianna Fail minister Tom Kitt, describes his electronic alter ego New Jackson as "a labour of love" and something he has been working on since his teens.

"It's always been there. I've a hard drive of projects I've accumulated over the past 15 to 20 years – 80 per cent of which hasn't been released. Within all that stuff you can see the pathway to New Jackson. I guess I got lumped in with the whole singer-songwriter thing, which isn't necessarily where I started."

He' has also been busy collaborating with Ash frontman Tim Wheeler.

"We actually have two really long 15-20 minute tracks which have no vocals on. It's all instrumental, synthesiser-type music and we hope to get that put out next year," he explains.

:: Derry's Samhain Sessions feature David Kitt and Our Krypton Son on October 29 and Ports and Joshua Burnside on October 30. For tickets and a full list of events happening in Derry this Halloween visit Derryhalloween.com

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