6 Records That Shaped The New Kyle Falconer Album - Part 1
Updated: Apr 21, 2021
Kyle Falconer is a solo singer-songwriter and founding member of Mercury Prize-nominated band The View. No Love Songs For Laura, featuring the singles 'Laura' and 'Stress Ball' is available to pre-order now on the official Kyle Falconer store. When our friends at Clash Music described 'Stress Ball' as "reminiscent of Mod kings the Small Faces" we were inspired to dig a little deeper into the influences on the forthcoming record. In this exclusive interview, we talk to Kyle about the six records that he and producer Frankie Siragusa reached for and referenced in the studio in order to record Kyle's magnum opus.
1) The Beatles AKA The White Album - The Beatles (1968)
Everyone knows that I’m a Beatles fan but the reason I start with this record is that when we first went into the studio, I was like "I’ve paid for all this". There was no record label, it was all just my ideas. I got the producer in there and said "I want to make a White Album, I want to make a two-disc album - on vinyl, it’d be four - I want 30-odd songs on it and I want them all to be as wacky as each other!" Some of them could be poppy, some could be country and that was the idea when we went in there. When we finalised it, we’d done 33 songs and ended up whittling it down. On the White Album, you’ve got ‘Blackbird' on there and 'Rocky Racoon' and different accents and like, just, madness. I had a fear when The View did Witch Bitch? that it was a bit wacky but I always remember really loving it. I would like to get the chance to re-do that record being the musician that I am today and the songwriter I am. Because back then I only had certain instruments I could use and certain ways I could write but now, through experience, I just had the thought I want to do another kind of wacky Witch Bitch? album. So that was the idea, just to go and record a bunch of songs and if you hear the record now it doesn’t really sound like that. But if you put the songs that aren’t on there all together it’s got that feel because it was going to be spread across a couple of vinyl.
TM: As far as the White Album, it’s interesting that the record has the light and shade of the Beatles' style - doing weird whimsical nursery rhyme type stuff but it has darker stuff like ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ and 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. Did the White Album influence extend to the idea of balancing those - the fun and the more serious stuff?
Yeah definitely. It’s funny you’d say nursery rhymes because I’ve always actually written those kinds of songs. Actually, on this album, I’ve got a song called 'Witches'. It was in the vein of the Beatles as well. I always have a couple of those little songs on the record. A few of the songs are really serious and are about kinds of subjects that I’ve never really touched on before. After working a couple of days, especially if you were doing a vocal take for one of the serious songs, you’d come out of a room that is quite dark with a couple of candles and it's all "too dark mate! Lets’ do one fo the funny songs!” and you’d start making wacky noises and shouting "get the harmonica!". It’s strange because I would have liked to have made that record and one day I will, but I think nowadays it would just get brushed under the rug. Nobody would hear that because of what’s going on; it's "just give us a 13-track album!"
TM: Do you mean "what's going on" in the sense that the industry is now more powered by playlists and singles than it is by the statement of a full album?
Yeah. The thing is I’ve never really cared or even known about the whole playlist thing, And I think that was maybe one of my... not mistakes, because fans will say they love all the records, but for me going through the years I always just wrote what was true to me. I wish that I’d kind of listened to more music sometimes - I’m quite bad for not listening to new music because it puts me off writing because I then second-guess what I’m doing. I’ll hear something and go ‘aw naw, I should be writing like that’ and that’s why I tend to listen to older stuff all the time. Recently I’ve been opened up to listening to more new music and other people’s bands and writing with different people. I’d never done that before.
I think that with this one it was cool to see that when McGee and Bruce (Alan McGee, Creation Management, Bruce McKenzie, Townsend Music) and everyone came in, they said that "these are the tracks we like." And you could then see the record formulate. All the other ones got whittled out, which I was happy with. It’s just nice to see that there were other people as into it as I was.
TM: And it's always useful to have some stuff for archives, B-sides...
I’ve always got tons of stuff for archives and everything. And this time I’ve got tons and tons!
2) The Witch - Mark Korven (2015)
I got this for Xmas a couple of years ago... I’m a mad horror movie buff!
All the low <imitates low, wooshing sound>. There was a lot of that in the studio and we were listening to this record at the time. We were just kind of having a laugh, putting it on in the background to see if anything happened while we were doing it. I always do this thing, most people don’t even notice it, but I call it the ’monk choir’. I’ll go: <vocalises low droning sound> in four-part harmony. A miracle happens - it goes through the bottom end and you can hear it when it’s properly mixed if you’ve got headphones on if you listen out for it. We were referencing The Witch and how dark it was - there was a couple of situations where we said we’d like it to be as dark as this is. We really went down the rabbit hole with it, we were doing intros where we were trying throat singing but eventually we said "I think we're mebbe going a bit far now". <Laughs>
TM: I think the fact that soundtracks are not created the immediacy of the music in itself - it has a secondary purpose - means that the music is written in a different way than you would pop and rock. Does the way that horror music has a different purpose influence your writing?
It’s more like the movies that influence me. Rosemary’s Baby I reference in 'Jimmy's Crazy Conspiracy' <hums the Rosemary’s Baby theme>. As a kid, I’ve got weird memories of smells. If I smell something I’ll get the shivers and go "that reminds me of something". Especially Rosemary’s Baby; I remember it was the first time that me and my brother got left at home and we were old enough to babysit ourselves. I remember Rosemary’s Baby coming on the TV - I’d watched it a wee bit with my mum and dad and I wasn’t really allowed to watch it. I was terrified: the horror! My brother was upstairs and I couldn’t wait for my mum and dad to get back. I remember being really scared and I remember that music. I remember the wallpaper and the colour of everything.
When you smell things - it’s like going to your Granny's - I think "that's like Rosemary’s Baby" even though I’ve never been on the set, I feel that’s what it smells like.
When I do writing, sometimes I’ll reference stuff that I’ve heard in movies. If there’s been a film on in the background I think "what is that?" Then I’ll record something on my laptop and think "have I copied that music completely?". Then I'll double-check it and think "that’s similar but nobody will notice - it’s just a reference kind of thing." Sometimes I’ll just take a little bit. Horror movies have always been a thing!
3) Tango In The Night - Fleetwood Mac (1987)
I’ve always wanted to make an album like this. It’s a sound that I’ve tried to create a few times being in The View. It’s hard to do this sound when you’ve got The View-like guitars and everything going on. The way that we play them, it's big - it’s more like Clash-y guitars.
So I love the harmonies of this and I thought it was a good reference. We always put this on when we’re referencing the cut-off points of the echo. Sometimes we’ll put it on when we’re gating and observe where they switch it off and the digital silence. I remember just using this a lot, especially 'Everywhere'. That was one of the first songs that I took magic mushroom to when I was like 18 and when that song came on I just remember thinking "Wow, this is unreal". It always makes me feel that "Wow", even now getting this on in the studio: "right it’s time to get this on - find some stuff from there!"
TM: Yeah, that sense of space of the digital side of the studio with the analogue recording of the guitars is very sophisticated. I think that album started off as a Lyndsey Buckingham solo album and obviously, he was a studio obsessive. Pop production over the last decade - a lot of the Scandinavian pop stuff - harks back to that early 80s pop sound, as far as mixing the digital studio FX with conventional instruments.
Yeah, it’s more just using effects but not making them sound affected. We were trying to get that ‘in between' sound and this is a good reference for it. We were also listening to a lot of the Mike Snow / Andrew Whyatt stuff - that’s quite similar to this kind of thing. I actually have a Mike Snow album there <points> but it’s just one that I’ve got, it’s not the one we were listening to.
I was trying not to make the whole thing a guitar album. There is guitar on there but just where it’s needed - there will always be a place for guitar.
From being 14-26 every song would have a guitar solo and it’s just part of being in a band. And then eventually you're like “oh, you don’t need to do that". I don’t have a guitarist. I am a guitarist but I’ve never been a 'guitar solo guy', it’s just never interested me. The fact is, I’m more interested in writing songs. I can play the guitar but I’ve never been mad into Jimi Hendrix. I just like songs.
TM: It’s that thing isn't it? How good a guitarist was John Lennon? Who cares? Similar to you he was the guy that would write amazing songs but George or Eric Clapton or whoever would play the solos. But obviously with the studio being what it is now - Gorillaz writing albums on an iPad and all that - you can go as far into that synth direction as you want. On this album did you want to keep some anchor point within guitar music?
Not really. You mention writing songs on iPad but I don’t even pick up a guitar anymore to write. I’ll go like "C, C, C, C" - just sing the part. "Am to Dm, dum dum dum" and that’ll be how I do it. I’ll have that song for maybe six months till I get in the studio and that'll be the first time I pick up the guitar to do it. It depends though, there were a few of the songs where we sat down and I had ideas on my phone. There’s are songs like 'Miracle' that I did with Alex Greenwald in LA and that's the first time I’d ever written a song on bass, so it was just "boom boom boom". We were halfway through doing that song and it didn’t have a chorus. We'd been doing it for nine hours and we were having a wee drink and eating some food in between, then when we got to the end of it and I was like "this is going nowhere". I picked up the bass and started funking it up and then it was a completely different song. I then just went and I played this chorus from my phone from two years ago and we went "Woah" and they just came together. TM: Interesting you say that about different instruments; there’s this conventional idea that an acoustic guitar is stripping a song down to its basic parts but when you play something on acoustic guitar, it gives it an acoustic rock feel - the strumming feels like a kick and a snare - so you do the same thing on piano and bass and you'll hear different styles.
Yeah, so I think that’s the beauty of having technology like that. Years ago I used to buy tape deck for every tour for recording things. Then the record company would buy us a digital 4 track; me and Kieran had one each and they cost £600 each. Going about with a four-track, never used it once!
I’ve lost it! "Label, we need a new one please!"
But now you’ve got your phone and you can’t lose your phone, even though I lose mine pretty much every week. It’s good to have it, man - there must be millions of phones lying about places with loads of songs on...
No Love Songs For Laura is available to pre-order now on the official Kyle Falconer store. All instruments are played by Kyle Falconer and album producer, Frankie Siragusa. Everyone who pre-orders the new album will automatically receive access to regular and exclusive Making Music content from Kyle.
See you here for 6 Records That Shaped The New Kyle Falconer Album - Part 2.