This July England-born, Paris-residing songwriter Kate Stables – better known as This is the Kit (the band is rounded out by a gently revolving cast of her closest musical friends) – released her fourth studio album, Moonshine Freeze. The album is the band’s first for Rough Trade Records and was produced by long-time collaborator John Parish (best known for his work with PJ Harvey). The album has been garnering critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, Stereogum, and NPR Music. Rolling Stone even noted her as an “Artist You Need To Know,” claiming that her latest sounds like, “Folk music conventions blown up, then vividly reassembled, with jazz and world beat glimmering through the cracks.” Earlier this month This is the Kit participated in a Rough Trade Session (excerpts of which are included below) in preparation of their Fall/Winter tour, which kicked off on the fifth in Cardiff and which includes dates throughout the US and Europe, a number of stateside dates supporting The National (They’ll be opening Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center on December 5th), and their biggest headlining show ever next January at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. However, at the moment This is the Kit are playing a string of relatively intimate US club shows and they’ll be headlining Johnny Brenda’s this Thursday, October 26th. Earlier today I got a chance to chat with Kate Stables about the past 15 years or so of This is the Kit and the tour they’re currently embarking on.
Izzy Cihak: You recently released Moonshine Freeze. Have you had a favourite reaction to the album?
Kate Stables: [Laughs]! Actually, yes. When my friend Marcus heard the album, he sent me a text saying, “Raging sax solo? Don’t mind if I do!”
I think that is totally my favourite reaction/review of Moonshine Freeze so far!
Izzy: How do you feel like the album compares to previous releases?
Kate: Hmm, let me see. Well, sometimes I think of the first album (Krulle Bol) as a walking album. And the second (Wriggle Out the Restless) as a sailing boat, the third (Bashed Out) was definitely a submarine, and this fourth album I think is subterranean somehow. Definitely down in the ground somehow. Not sure what that means the next one will be!
Izzy: I realize this is a pretty huge question, but you’ve been releasing music for more than a decade now: What have been some of your personal highlights of your musical career?
Kate: Oh crikey! So many amazing adventures and unexpected experiences. One that stands out was definitely opening for The National at The Beacon Theatre in New York. That was quite the memorable eye opener. And singing backup with a group of friends from Paris for Bon Iver at the Paris Philharmonie. That was pretty amazing.
And of course it’s such an amazing privilege getting to travel to and tour in places I probably wouldn’t otherwise get to see. We toured Japan a while ago and that really has stuck in my mind and soul as a very incredible life changing trip. There are lots really. I feel pretty lucky to get to live these crazy adventures.
Izzy: You have a ton of really big upcoming shows. Are there any shows you’re especially excited to play, or just cities you’re especially excited to visit or revisit?
Kate: Well, yes, all of them really! But I’m excited to see a bit more of Canada. We just dipped in for two shows on this tour but when we come back in December with The National then we’ll get to see a bit more, which I’m excited about. My dad grew up in Windsor, Ontario, so I’ve always been pretty fascinated and intrigued by Canada. Plus, I’m a sucker for the North. The more northern places that we get to visit the better!
Izzy: You’re playing our very own Johnny Brenda’s this Thursday. What can be expected of the live show this time around?
Kate: Well, on this tour it’s the traveling light power trio version [laughs]. It’s me, Jamie (drums and vocals), and Rozi (bass and vocals). It’s been great on this tour, really tightening up and settling into the trio arrangements. Rozi and Jamie are so good at singing, it’s really great to be able to harness and focus in on that for the times when we’re just a trio.
Izzy: And you’re touring with The National later this year. How excited are you for those shows? Any particular favourite works of theirs?
Kate: Gosh, yes, very excited! I really love getting to see them play every night. It puts me in a very happy state of mind. And at the the moment, my favourite track of theirs is ”I’ll Still Destroy You.” They do a splendid job of playing it live.
Izzy: You’re going to be returning to Philadelphia on that run, but in a significantly larger room. Can we expect a similar set, or is that going to be completely different?
Kate: It’ll be a bit different, as we’ll be reunited with our guitarist, Neil. So we’ll be back to the more upbeat set I think. And the amount of time we play for will be shorter probably so the shape of the set will be slightly different.
Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you after these dates wrap? Anything you’re especially excited about in the first part of 2018?
Kate: Well, we’ll be touring in the UK for the month of January, which will be great. And then in February we’ll get some time off, which will also be great!
I’ve not really had a proper amount of time at home since before the summer so to be home and be with my family and to try and get some writing done will be marvelous.