Kid Fourteen interview

Beirut based Kid Fourteen's second album will be released on April 13th 2018, as a photobook with accompanying CD (pre-order here), as well as being made available digitally. Blood-thick Silence conjures a vision of euphoric despair; moments of pure melancholy swing to nihilistic hope.  Ahead of the release, we spoke with Kid Fourteen about the intensity of the record, working solo and how the record came to be.

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Your music is simultaneously melancholic and playful. It sounds like the end of a crazy long night dancing. ls that seeming dichotomy something you deliberately strive for, or a consequence of your creative process?

Actually, that's not the first time someone suggests this description, but it's probably accurate. I've always imagined my music as a closing scene to a long night out and the emotion that comes with it. It could be about pleasure, love, spite, intoxication, loneliness, and all the shades in between. My first record ''Dream Kids Never Sleep'' was largely based on that (The dancing part), this one is more about strolling alone after a crazy long night. 

Blood Thick Silence feels intensely personal, like a direct conversation with you. Do you feel you’re exposing yourself emotionally or otherwise through the record?

It is, I did this record directly after quitting my 4 year long full-time job. I basically locked myself in the studio for a couple of months and went with the motions of what I felt then. The more practical approach was to make a more ''accessible'' record given that I'm making music full time now. What happened was exactly an opposite reaction to that notion. Very uncompromising. I decided to go inwards and explore what that means to me during this period of my life. It feels like I declared war instead of reaching out for empathy and support...

Whilst this is a very dark record, there are definite dance elements to it, as well as some industrial and even goth. It sounds like you have a massive array of influences. Is that the case? How do you combine them?

I'm increasingly having trouble with defining my sound (especially when people ask), and I suppose it's much more evident in this record. A few years back my most obvious hero was Captain Beefheart. I used to be fascinated by his approach and how he challenged formats. I think that never left me and I'm finding myself approaching compositions unknowingly through that sentiment. I was listening to a lot of jazz in that period as was well, so for me it's the approach and method that influence me and not necessarily the sound.

You’ve played in bands before, but Kid Fourteen is you solo. What was it that attracted you to performing in this way? Anything you prefer or dislike in working solo?

I started playing solo out of frustration and pace at first. I found it increasingly difficult to work with other people in a band format, especially here in Beirut, There are plenty of distractions, worries, and little opportunities for bands to stay focused and keep it together. I decided to do this by myself because I knew I'd be responsible for my own risks. That's the good part. The bad part is that sometimes you miss and need complicity. That sense of us against the world. I do have people I work with regularly Like my longtime collaborators Karim Shams Eddine (music) and Ziad Moukarzel (Producer).

Does the way you play live reflect how you work in the studio? For anyone that’s not seen you play before, what can they expect from the live show?

No, my live performances are definitely much more wilder, almost theatrical. To make that work I have to be practical with my setup. Usually I have live parts and playback parts that support my act and allow me to break loose with the surrounding. 

You’ve toured a lot in Europe. How do you find that compared to playing at home. Any particular favourite places you’ve played?

Playing Europe has it's ups and downs, the crowd can be tame and you mostly play small gigs. But I've had great shows in Lisbon, Alvesta (Kalabalik fest.), Brussels, and Moscow... And just traveling between all these cities is great. In Beirut I've had the best and worst shows, and in both cases it was out of familiarity and comfort, it's like a big family here. And weirdly enough here it's much better paid.

We got introduced to you by Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu. How do you know him? Do you have a favourite Xiu Xiu record?

Jamie is just a great person. I met him when I invited Xiu Xiu to play Beirut a couple of years back, because I promote gigs here every now and then.  I opened for them and that was just a really wild show. We sort off never stopped writing each other and sharing our work ever since. For me the last 2 records for Xiu Xiu are just excellent. Forget & Angel Guts are great pieces of art. 

What else have you got going on this year? You have a project with Alex Zhang Hungtai coming up I believe?

I met Alex when I invited Dirty Beaches (then) to play here 4 years ago as I well. Alex is like a brother to me and we met several times since then. Last year we decided to work together for the first time so he came to Beirut and we performed as a duo in Cairo and Beirut (Irtijal Festival). This project is timeless to us, and we agreed that whenever it's time we'll meet somewhere in the world and share what we've learnt so far (both personally and musically). There is a chance we go record something in Stockholm some time this year but we haven't pinned it down yet. The other thing I started working on is a pop duo with Karim Sham Eddine (Noise Pope) and we already have a few tracks on the way. I'm really curious about that one and hopefully it'll be out very soon.