October 25, 2019

HCTF interview: It's Karma It's Cool

English upbeat power pop quartet It's Karma It's Cool recently released an ace debut EP, Hipsters and Aeroplanes - "a slice of optimism at a time that the UK is in the midst of an endless tug of war between leavers and remainers". Lead singer James Styring, with some assistance from guitarist, producer and recording engineer Martyn Bewick, kindly answered some questions via email about the recording sessions.

Power pop is making some kind of comeback. Did you always have a soft spot for that particular genre?

"I guess I always have, just never realised it as power pop! I've always been drawn to melody and harmony, songs you find yourself singing. I was brought up listening to my parent's record collection, so The Beatles played a big influence on my early musical taste. Those influences form the blueprint for your future, whether you realise it at the time, or not. Of course, there's many other bands that I love and am influenced by, but The Beatles were the first. And yes, I know that's a cliché, but there's a reason it's a cliché."

The Hipsters and Aeroplanes EP sounds fiercely old school, with a good ear for detail and separation. What equipment did you use?

"Thank you! I shall hand you over to our guitarist, producer and recording engineer, Martyn Bewick..."

"Well, rest assured almost no old school equipment was used! The secret ingredient to a lot of it was a pair of Neumann u87 clones, which were used to capture the room sound of the drums, the vocals, acoustic guitars and brass instruments. Other than that, we actually used a Kemper profiler amp for all the electric guitars and bass, with classic Fender amp profiles mainly. The drums were good old fashioned 80’s Yamaha recording custom, which you can’t go wrong with. All the above channeled through a digital Allen & Heath desk into Logic X."

Did you enter the studio with all the arrangements already in place or did you change a lot during the actual recording sessions?

"No, the songs were finished and arranged before we entered the recording studio. Mikey, our bassist and guitarist, and myself, write and demo them all at his home studio first, before the actual recording process starts. We like to have everything in place and pretty much know what we're all doing. It works well for us."

Technology and especially engineering are main sources of inspiration for the lyrics. Why is that?

"It's not something I was especially aware of, Hans, but now you've pointed it out, I can see what you mean. I don't write to any set of rules, it just kind of happens. Perhaps it's a subconscious thing - sometimes the words come so fast I can't write them down. I'm originally from Sheffield, a big UK engineering city, known as, The Steel City, so perhaps that could be it."

Many bands test the water with an EP these days. Are EP's the way to go in the digital age or do people still have the stamina to listen to a full album?

"Things have certainly changed over the last few years. The internet has made it easier to get your music out there and heard, that's for sure, but listening habits have changed, too. People don't seem to sit and listen to a full album anymore, it's more about the individual song. We just thought, as our debut record, we'd not put too much out there, in case it got missed and went unheard. Having said that, I can tell you that our second record will be a full length album."

If you could go on tour with another band, which one would that be?

"At this point, we'd be happy to support any band that would have us! I think when you're trying to establish yourself and get your music heard, there's no room for ego. Any band whose music would fit with ours, or visa versa, let's do it! We're very well mannered and are all house trained.

Who would you call to produce the next one if the money for services rendered wasn't an issue?

"Great question, Hans! It's genuinely not something I've really thought about. We're all very happy with how Martyn does things at this stage. I think, regardless of the money involved, it's all about how you get on in the studio, the vibe you create. If you're all aiming for the same goal. I've known bands spend vast amounts of money, and come away feeling disappointed. It's ultimately about the songs and the spark you capture - you don't always need a mountain of cash, just the right personalities."

Hipsters and Aeroplanes is released via Kool Kat Musik.

» It's Karma It's Cool on Facebook

HCTF review of Hipsters and Aeroplanes

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