Posted by Aphra Magazine on 26/8/15.
The Paper Kites are a five-piece indie rock band from Melbourne, Australia, and they are about to fire up Australia’s indie rock scene with their new album twelvefour, which will be released on the 28th of August. Their talent goes right back to their first EP, Woodland, in 2011, followed by Young North and then Statesin 2013. States was ranked #17 on the ARIA Album chart.
Aphra had a chat to Sam Bentley, vocalist and songwriter, about The Paper Kites’ new album twelvefour, and new video for their single ‘Electric Indigo’.
The Paper Kites was formed through Sam’s friendship with Christina Lacy back in their school days, although they didn’t actually go to the same school. ‘We sort of knew of each other through some friends,’ Sam says. ‘We became good friends and we started playing a little bit of music around local cafes and pubs in Melbourne. Then we just decided we wanted to make a band out of it.’
The band’s name stemmed from a spontaneous decision its members had made before they were to play at a festival. ‘Yeah it was literally like “How about the Paper Kites?” “Yeah that sounds good,”’ Sam says. ‘It doesn’t really have any genre connotations with it, like it could really be any sort of band. It didn’t sound like a metal band or it didn’t sound like a reggae band, it was just a name and I think that’s what you want as a band, something that doesn’t lock you into any sort of genre.’
The name twelvefour stems from its creation between the hours of 12AM and 4AM. Sam noticed a difference between writing during the day and writing at night. Your headspace is in a completely different place: ‘It’s not to say you can’t write music during the day, but for me, sometimes I’m a little bit restricted because I might start something and then think “Ah, I don’t really like where this is heading” or “I’m not sure if I want to write this type of song” so I just leave it.’
‘The idea was to try and get myself feeling tired and a little sleep-deprived and seeing how it would come out that way, because I don’t think at that time of night you’re really worried about the style of song you’re writing. You just let it come out and it is what it is,’ Sam says.
As a result, the band had many different styles of songs. ‘I wasn’t letting myself stop a song, I just kept going until I finished it, whatever style it was. We had some really interesting types of songs, when I gave the guys thirty demos or so, and I said “This is what I’ve done, they’re all kind of different but there you go”, and it was a good way to do it,’ Sam says.
The ideas behind The Paper Kites’ single ‘Electric Indigo’ are orientated around a trilogy that they have been working on. ‘It’s actually part one of three we’re doing, we wanted to do a trilogy of videos all set between the hours of twelve and four,’ Sam says. ‘So they’re late night stories, different characters and different towns but still the same kind of idea, but just different stories between twelve and four.’
Sam expands on the theme by mentioning that it’s sort of like a late-night, ‘80s version of love. The band wanted to shoot in underground clubs with neon in weird interesting places. ‘That’s what we kind of wanted to do to all the videos. We’re about to shoot the second video—it’s being shot in Minneapolis, so that’ll be cool.’
The Paper Kites wanted to leave Melbourne to record twelvefour. As much as they love Melbourne, they believe it’s important to gain inspiration from fresh scenery. ‘We didn’t want the luxury of being able to go home at the end of the night and hang out with our partners and families and stuff like that. We just wanted to be somewhere where we could really focus on what we were doing there, and Seattle kind of seemed far away enough.’
Producer Phil Ek wanted them to go to Seattle because he was well acquainted with the studio there, so they went for six weeks. According to Sam, Phil was a great producer to work with even though he was tough on them. ‘Me and Christina were certainly feeling it with our vocals, because we were just used to slamming out 20 or 30 takes of a song until we get it, but he would just give you a few and if you weren’t singing it right, he’d shut the session down and say “Nah you’re not doing it right, let’s do it another day or something like that”,’ Sam says.
Phil wanted Sam and Christina to believe in what they were singing. ‘He’s a lovely guy and he certainly knows what he wants. He’s very honest, which is what you need; when you become comfortable with the band and what it’s like to be recording, I think you need to throw yourself in the deep end where you feel like you don’t know anything because it’s good.’
Sam admits that he hated it at the time, but that it was all in the effort of trying to make a good record, and that’s what they care about doing, so they were really stoked to work with Phil in the end.
Sam’s words of inspiration to anybody creative are to be honest and authentic in what they do, and for anybody to get into the music industry, not to go on The Voice. When I asked him why they shouldn’t, he laughs and says, ‘Because it’ll ruin your life.’
Be sure to check out twelvefour when it comes out on the 28th of August. The Paper Kites are also embarking on their national tour soon, so you can rock out with them when they come to your city; you can search the dates and times via their website.