Kim Churchill returns with new single Breakneck Speed, the first taste of his forthcoming album to be released later this year. Written in Quebec during an emotional ‘up’ for Kim, it’s a fitting taste of a newly refreshed, energised Churchill, whose previous single Window To The Sky (from the album Silence/Win) hit #42 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2014. Breakneck Speed is available digitally this Friday April 14 and to coincide with the release, Churchill will be embarking on a string of tour dates this May in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, and Perth in June. At just 26, Kim Churchill has already made some incredible achievements in his time as a professional musician. Recognised as much internationally as in Australia, he has performed headline shows and festivals across the world including Falls Festival, Splendour in the Grass, Montreal Jazz, Telluride Blues and Glastonbury, as well as supporting acts including Billy Bragg and Leo Kottke. It’s a long way from the beginning of his career, when he traversed Australia in a campervan, undertaking a musical journey to share and connect with the Australian musical landscape. We caught up with Kim to chat about his concerns for the environmental impact of large-scale tours and his advice for artists setting off on their first tour. Let’s jump in!
1) Who was your first musical inspiration? Why?
When I was about 8 Dad bought me Led Zeppelin IV. I listened to it on a cassette player over and over again before and after dinner. I think that album is quite other worldly and it was my first experience of music being able to take you to another place. Funnily enough I used to imagine Robert Plant was this tall dark mysterious man in a suit. Slightly misjudged haha.
2) What advice do you have for someone who’s about to set off on their first tour?
Haha wow! The first tour! That’s a hard one. Depends what the person wants. If you want life experience and times you won’t ever forget, then I’d say take every opportunity you can get. Party hard. Say yes to as many opportunities as you can, late at night, early in the morning, in between sound check and the show. Anytime, anywhere! Just make memories from each place you’ll think of fondly for the rest of your life. If you want to make the most incredible music you are capable of making and truly achieve your potential then I’d say get 8 hours sleep a night. For starters. Work hard every moment you have. Go out and see shows. Sober. Listen to as much music as you can and read as many books as you can. Organise co-writing sessions in places, be generous to your bandmates and laugh as much as you can. Be serious and walk away from every performance or bit of music you do knowing you gave it everything you have. But! Don’t take it all too seriously. You’ll seize up, tense up and end up sucking. Be calm and be good. Both options have merits I reckon. But that’s just the first tour. All tours after that have different parameters.
3) What has been one of your most defining moments in your career?
Recording the last album on Vancouver Island. 3 years ago. I let go of a heap of inhibitions and made music that blew my mind. I managed to get into a headspace that I am pretty much in awe of these days. It lasted about ten days. Sometimes I think I might have gotten back to that place. Then I lose it again. It kinda comes and goes. I was just lucky with that time as it coincided with recording the album.
4) How has your music practice changed over time?
Practice exists within my music now. haha. For the first sort of saga of my career I never practiced. I just played stupid amounts of shows. 20 in a row. Back to back tours. That kind of stuff. I wasn’t paying much attention to the quality of what I was doing. I was cocky actually. I just presumed I was really good. Kinda silly. A few years ago I kinda woke up and realised how much work the truly memorable artists put in. I do a little more now.
5) My top business tip for new artists is…
Don’t give up. Work every day and don’t give yourself a plan B. Ever!
6) My biggest career mistake has been…
Probably drinking heavily during the recording of my second album. I think I totally under delivered and it was a stupid time to experiment with whether being an alcoholic was a good character fit for me as an artist. I actually thought whiskey and being a bit drunk made me play better. I was lying to myself big time.
7) In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is…
Bottled water and the environmental costs of large-scale tours. Also how artists are going to claim back the larger sum of monies being made by streaming services. It’s a beautiful new healthy way of music consumption. But soon it will be time for the artists to once again commandeer the profits as the rightful owners of the art. Kinda like The Beatles, Elvis and a group of those first big pop bands did with the major record labels in the 60’s. Sorry, I picked two.
If you agree that the environmental impact from large-scale tours is an important issue facing the industry, you might be interested in our chat with Head of Green Music, Tim Hollo.
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Purchase your tickets Kim’s national Australian tour HERE.