Off Off On

Off Off On

“It was a really good tour to be on because it wasn't me in charge,” Kate Stables tells Apple Music about writing most of the songs on her fifth studio album as This Is the Kit while supporting The National as a guest vocalist on their I Am Easy to Find 2019 world tour. “I had a lot of time on my own to think and just mull things over. I think mixing that solitude while meeting new people, having these new experiences, and seeing far off lands I've never been to before influenced the writing in quite a big way.” After taking some time to soak up that experience, the Paris-based singer-songwriter got together with her bandmates in early 2020 for a week-long residency in the middle of the Welsh mountains to flesh out her acoustic-based songs. With the help of longtime collaborator Jesse Vernon, who added horn parts and delicately arranged orchestration to her sparse, understated folk, Stables got in touch with producer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman (Bonny Light Horseman, Muzz) to add a whole new layer to the album. “I feel like a lot of that richness is thanks to Josh and the extra little touches he adds,” she says. “With the last album [2017's Moonshine Freeze], it was much more like what we sound like when each of us play our instruments during a gig. This album has more instruments that we don't play live. I feel really lucky that I can be in a band and that the songs are given a new kind of dimension.” Here, Stables shares some insights into the album, track by track. Found Out “This was one of the earlier ones I had written for the album. And for me, it was going to have to be the first song on the album, because it's quite representative of the time we spent in the studio together. It's the energy and the joy of playing together. And also, just the relationships between people and the kind of bonds that get mysteriously formed. Over time, you might not see someone for 10 years, but then you'll see them again and you're still kind of as joined as you were before.” Started Again “I think sometimes it's easy to resist starting from scratch again. But I think it's part of what life does, and it makes you stronger and wiser. And we should embrace it, I think. Human beings are kind of like ants, carrying things from A to B and then back again. And we don't always stop to check in with what we're doing and why we're doing it. Sometimes it's a physical baggage we're carrying, and sometimes it's the emotional bits and bobs that we hold on to that we could just decide not to carry around with us anymore. We could just decide not to hold that grudge or think about this one thing over and over again.” This Is What You Did “This song is about how sometimes it's hard to know whether the voices in our heads are actually the voices in our heads or the voices of other people. It's a dangerous game, assuming what other people are thinking about you. It's not that it's a waste of time worrying about it, but it's still something that we worry about anyway. It's about trying to get out of bad mental habits when you think negative thoughts, and instead make an effort to get outside and go for a walk or a run and get out of your head and a bit more into your limbs.” No Such Thing “I have a strange relationship with calling it this title. It was named after a demo that I sent to the band. There was two versions: one where I'd strummed it and the one where I picked it. I asked the band which direction we should go in, and they all said 'picky.' This song was me a little bit thinking about what would happen if we let go our identity and didn't rely on it as much, and also not making so many assumptions about other people's identity, too.” Slider “One way of putting it is not wanting to get out of bed, or not wanting to face up to things that you're feeling daunted by and thinking about how much we allow ourselves to cancel things or to back out of things, or to go through with them or to make ourselves do it.” Coming to Get You Nowhere “I was sharing a friend's little practice space to go and work and write, and I just needed a bit of a break. I decided to play whatever chords came out and made up words; it was an exercise in making up lyrics as I went along rather than a plan to write a song. Eventually, it kind of took shape as a song, but I still wasn't sure that it was going to be on the album until right at the end.” Carry Us Please “I was thinking about our relationship with leadership, and with representation and responsibility. Do we need someone to follow or can we as individuals come together and sort stuff out? There’s this tendency these days to slag things off on the internet just to be mean rather than to make any physical change in our own communities and neighborhoods. We're not as involved as we used to be. We want role models to carry us, and it's kind of reasonable, but at the same time, it's not reasonable. We have to be the change we want to see as individuals.” Off Off On “This song grew out of this experiment trying to find the melody. I was enjoying singing a note on the offbeat, and then again on the offbeat, and then singing it on the beat. And so the first idea of this phrase was me just singing 'off off on' because that's where the note was going in relation to the beat.” Shinbone Soap “I love bars of soap. I just find them to be such pleasing objects to hold and smell. And that's the same with bones; I quite often find myself wanting to hold a bone in between my teeth. That sounds really stupid, but I'm often quite jealous of dogs when I see them biting on a bone. Which is ridiculous, because I'm also a vegetarian. I guess it's linked to my relationship with words and how they sound in your mouth and the sensation of that. I guess I'm quite an oral person. Maybe I'm still a one-year-old at heart that wants to put everything in my mouth.” Was Magician “It’s inspired by a set of books by Ursula K. Le Guin. In part, I'm talking about the characters in these books that have these powers. I'm also talking about these really young people I have met who to me seem to have this willfulness or determination—like when you meet a child who's incredibly stubborn or really articulate. It was also me thinking about the youth movements that are kind of getting engaged at the moment and sticking up for the planet, whether it's lobbying and protesting and communicating. It's their futures that are going to be hugely changed by the disaster that we're already in in terms of the environment on this planet.” Keep Going “This song imposes itself in subtle ways that were unforeseen by me and other people. I wanted to end the album on a positive note. Although you may interpret the sound as mellow or sad, maybe, it’s very positive in terms of its message of hope, perseverance, and faith in the future. Sometimes the subject matter of my songs doesn’t always match in the way that you’d expect with the vibe and energy. It eases us out of the album before we even realize what’s happened.”

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