Over the course of the last two years, something has been stirring within the Bristol music scene. In a city so vibrant and spilling out with energy new bands often come and go in the eyes of a widely supported music community, and after decades on decades of incredible artists passing through every corner of the city it’s understandable when people start to wonder if they’ve seen it all.
Kite Thief burst onto stages across the country in 2019, and it’s been an unpredictable ride ever since. Despite their relatively recent inception, the quintet have already captured the hearts and minds of plenty within the region, with their chemical laced output sounding akin to a surreal hybrid of Vukovi and Meshuggah.
Frantic and unchained, following on from three widely welcomed singles, the band have now just released their most recent offering. Entitled 'Sweepstake' and harnessing the expectations of their fans into a captivating visual, the fourth instalment from the band is sharp, well executed & nicely packaged. Each song in Kite Thief’s arsenal follows the core vein of their genre, yet evolves nicely into its own distinct sound - undiluted and raw.
Polarising fans by making thorough use of an extensive vocal range and building into that home-cooked Kite Thief breakdown, 'Sweepstake' is set to go down a storm among a hungry fanbase. We sat down with frontwoman Elin Allan for a chat about their eagerly anticipated set at this year's Attitude Festival, Cliff Richard and Maccies on the M4.
'Sweepstake' sounds massive, is there a particular message you’re looking to get across with
your latest single?
"It is kinda big. But size isn’t everything, we’ve got plenty of motion in this thievin’ ocean to boot."
"Songwise though - it’s our most concerted effort yet, we’re hoping it carries that ethic to the listener: We’re gonna keep on pumping music that’s full of beans & you should come along for the ride!"
"The lyrical content of the song.. It’s a disparaging view of the modern obsession with online content, the likes, the followers, the cultures.. We’re sharing so much online, all to accumulate some magical digital wealth made up of fabricated friendships and manufactured meaning, it’s fool’s gold. I think the irony of us keenly promoting it online
could make Alanis Morisette cry!"
Following on from this, how well does this match up with the music video? What's your approach to creating visual art?
"For Sweepstake, we wanted the visuals to be as provocative as the song. The music video is the nucleus of the release, it’s at the heart of the overall message of the song. I’d love to say we do direct and story board our videos, but that’s not a hat we’re fully rocking yet. Usually, we largely leave it to the experts. The incredibly generous &
masochistic folk that agree to shoot our music videos, even in -4 degrees. The older videos aren’t entirely our babies. However, for 'Sweepstake' we got more involved. We knew that we wanted to strongly portray the narrative of the song, and we had a whole pile of ideas and notes. The aim was to embody the theme of the song through characters and rooms."
"We took our mass of ideas to the folks of Cineoteric Films and they injected some magic into it! They really helped flesh out & refine what we had. They brought the characters to life and kept us all going after 9 hours of filming in freezing conditions!"
Living in such a diverse city such as Bristol must really inspire your creative flair as a collective, can you tell us a bit about how Kite Thief came together?
"When a mummy band & a daddy band love each other very much....Well, originally, none of us were from Bristol. However, now we proudly call it our home.This city is special, the people, the diversity, the music scene, the food… You just can’t compare it to anywhere else."
"We met at university where we were all studying music and through our classes we got to know each other quite well. Twice each term, our uni would hire out popular Bristol venues and put on a live showcase, and they were always sick. Individually (and with other bands), we never got through the audition stage. But when we came together as a five piece and auditioned with our version of 'Play', by Marmozets, we were picked to play the show. I’m pretty sure we all thought that would be it. We’d play the show, have a good time, and continue with our individual lives. But something clicked during that first performance. In the end we thought, why not give this a go?"
Take us inside your writing process, how do you get ideas from paper into certified Kite Thief material?
"It usually begins with an idea usually from Josh or Max, the riffing wizards. That idea gets fleshed out, reworked, turned upside down, thrown around and battered. From there we build and build, each adding our own individual flair. We have quite a diverse music taste between the five of us, and we all bring something different to the table which amalgamates into something unique."
"I like to be somewhat cryptic in my lyrical delivery, because I want each person who listens to one of our songs to be able to relate in their own personal way."
You recently released a stripped back version of your previous single 'Pictures'. Is the softer side of the band something we might see more of?
"It was something a bit different for us but we don’t want to shy away from that side of our music. It is most likely something you will see more of from us. Most Kite Thief songs are written with the intent to be electrifying and very, in your face’, you know? But recently we have embarked on an adventure of performing & writing music in different ways, with lockdown forcing us to reinvent our creative processes and all. We aim to constantly challenge our songwriting abilities and are keen to show a dynamic side. It’s interesting to explore how our heavy, riff writing brains
work in a more delicate sense."
Getting back to heavier territory, you’ve been billed for a spot at this years Attitude Festival and hailed as one of the best live acts in the south-west. How are you feeling about the event?
"Sorry, who was that that hailed us? - just need to check their invoice is paid."
"So Attitude’s at the Exchange, it’s a venue we know intimately.. house gear is great and the engineers are top trumps, it’s really a delightful stage to play."
Any other touring plans you can tell us about? Understandably it must be difficult making bookings in the current climate but there's got to be a ton of faces that want to see you back out on the road.
"It’s pretty much just travelling from couch to fridge for the next few months, serenading the odd unsuspecting kitty.
We’ve folks in mind for gig swaps, places we would love to play whenever we next can, but no tour planned out… Yet. Whilst there’s not a lot going on, we are workshopping a bunch of new material and hopefully we’re going to get it recorded and prep’d months in advance. Gigs are a far away dream still."
What's the top track in each of your playlists at the moment?
Henry: Lous and The Yakuza - 'Dilemme'
Elin: Uk Hun? - 'United Kingdolls'
Max: Holding Absence - 'Afterlife'
Josh: Architects - 'Animals'
Zac: Tzan Niko - 'Spank'
Do you have one particular lyrical motivator? Or do each of your songs vary in terms of where you get your inspiration?
"I write the lyrical content. Usually, the lyrical inspiration comes from all of my personal experiences. The lyrics themselves are typically inspired by the usual stuff you know Feminism, capitalism, society and the general 'fuck EVERYTHING’ -ness. I like to be somewhat cryptic in my lyrical delivery, because I want each person who listens to one of our songs to be able to relate in their own personal way."
You must have a huge number of your fans wanting to know the same answer as we do - when are we going to see a full length Kite Thief EP?
"We would also like to know the answer to this question… The multiple lockdowns in the UK has meant we have all had to re-think our usual approach to writing music, and we’ve all learned new skills. If all goes to plan, hopefully you’ll hear something about this early next year…"
You guys have shared stages with some hefty acts already - is there anyone in particular you’d like to support on the Kite Thief bucket list?
"Yes, Cliff Richard, please and thank you. Nah but really, there is a HUGE list, lemme see if I can narrow it down. Architects, Dream state, Tonight Alive, Bring Me The Horizon and Don Broco."
At the risk of getting a bit heavy, what’s your endgame here? Where do we see the band in ten years time?
"Bleary eyed in a roadside Maccies somewhere along the M4, on the way back from Wembley. Having just played alongside Bring Me The Horizon... Hopefully in a place where we no longer need to work day jobs to support the band, we can be on regular tours and just writing and playing music to as many people as we possibly can."
You guys seem to get a lot of praise from a lot of other bands on your local circuit. What other Bristol based artists should everyone check out?
"Bristol has some insane talent going on right now. You definitely need to watch out for Mother Vulture, RXPTRS, How Nice and Profiler."
If Kite Thief could have written any song in history to date - which one would you choose to put your name on and why?
"Axel F - by Crazy Frog. We’d be a household staple."