David Kitt: My gig in the Duncairn was one of those nights that reassures you about what you're doing – it was brilliant
Dublin singer-songwriter David Kitt plays the Open House Festival in Bangor next month. David Roy quizzed Kitt about why his first album for nine years, Yous, and a recent Belfast show have helped reinvigorate him
HI DAVID, you’re playing Bangor next month. Last time you were in the north you played at The Duncairn arts centre in Belfast – how did it go for you?
It was amazing, it was a really really great gig. It was the first time in too long playing in Belfast and it was a sold-out show and an amazing crowd at a great venue.
I really loved it – it was a real shot in the arm, to be honest. It was one of those nights that reassures you about what you’re doing, because there are those times when you’re playing to 10 people – again – and you’re going, “What’s the point of any of this?”
But that was one of those great nights: just a lot of great energy and great sound too. It was a brilliant gig.
Do you ever get seriously discouraged with making music?
I’ve never really had doubts about my convictions for doing what I do, in terms of like, it’s not something I can switch off – it’s just there and you have to best deal with it.
But there are times, like when you consistently lose money on things, then you just kind of go, “Well this is just foolish – maybe I should have a real job and just do this as a hobby”.
Then you realise how much the music means to people, which is something you’re almost separate from but you kind of marvel at. It’s so nice to get that warm reaction and see that there’s something there that I can still build on, even though I’ve been doing this for quite a while – that there’s still room to build rather than just a slow decline.
Can you still relate to the songs on your early releases like Small Moments and The Big Romance that would be regarded as ‘fan favourites’?
There’s certain songs or albums that you outgrow in some ways, because you’ve been through those experiences [as described in the lyrics] and it’s almost like some of it is like an uncomfortable diary entry or something.
But those songs still serve a purpose: they’ve soundtracked certain moments in other people’s lives when maybe they were going through what you were going through at the time of that record. That gives them a life of their own.
Like, Into The Breeze off The Big Romance just keeps giving. I think it will always resonate with me when I’m singing it, and there are certain other songs I wrote when I was maybe 21/22 that I’m still singing with a sense of conviction, that still mean something to me.
Whereas something like Song From Hope Street feels very naive or just very tied to being 21 or 22.
Your new album Yous was initially only going to be released via Bandcamp before label All City persuaded you to let them put it out properly. Was that an unusual experience?
Yeah, normally it’s me trying to convince other people to do something more with my records.
Obviously, I was already working with Olan [O’Brien] at All City on the New Jackson [Kitt’s electronic alter-ego] stuff. I got the record mastered by the same guy who does all the New Jackson stuff and Portishead [Shawn Joseph at Optimum in Bristol] and he did such a great job that when I heard it finished I was like, “Jesus, this is actually pretty good”.
Because I’d finished it in a hurry it just had this spirit that I’m often trying to create, but you can’t fake. So I could see it had something special about it but I still wasn’t sure. I asked Olan for help in terms of maybe doing a small vinyl pressing but he was like, ah no, what are you talking about, this is really good.
He’s quite a particular man and massive music fan, so maybe getting his seal of approval helped me decide that something more needed to happen.
So I’m going to be doing as much as I can with All City over the next few years. We’re not looking for world domination, but there’s definitely a plan and everything is done right, which makes the whole process a bit more exciting.
Is there a cross-over in terms of your fanbase as David Kitt and New Jackson?
Some of the younger kids are coming to the David Kitt stuff from the New Jackson stuff and they’re hearing it in a slightly different way. Like, they’re comparing it to people like Dean Blunt or something, which makes such a nice change from being compared to Damien Rice or David Gray.
I’ve always had a foot in the electronic camp, so I feel pretty lucky at the moment. Between the two different guises I’m getting to explore almost the full extent of my musicality and creativity, with the help of a good label.
It’s definitely given me a spring in my step.
:: David Kitt, Sunday August 26, Open House Festival, Studio 1A Theatre, Bangor. Tickets £20 via Openhousefestival.com