“I love to write music in the attic room of the house I’ve been living in for the last six months, I’ve usually written in darkened bedrooms so I’ve enjoyed being in somewhere so light. As we’ve been on tour so much recently I haven’t spent a huge amount of time there, but I’m looking forward to getting myself settled in over the Christmas break. I couldn’t really pick a favourite place as I often write songs in fragments that come together gradually; I think that’s indicative of the touring lifestyle really. My lyrics are usually collected in bits and pieces in my phone and in notebooks whilst I’m on the move, and, geeky as it sounds, I often go to a library to try and collate them into something that I’m happy with. Sometimes I just need a bit of peace and quiet! Fossil,I was written in a library in Bloomsbury whilst I was reading about the land artist Robert Smithson. What usually happens is when I’ve got something I think could work the boys and I bash it out in practise or soundcheck, I bring the skeleton and they flesh it out.
The attic room is in a typical Leeds back-to-back terraced red brick house, the house is on a hill so I have a view of the city over the chimney pots. It has big windows so is really bright but very cold in winter! The places we practise in as a band are all old industrial buildings down by the canal in Leeds, one of the advantages of living in an old industrial revolution town is that there’s plenty of vacant old mills that people can turn into studios.
My set up at home is very basic, I’m not a fan of demo-ing as I don’t like to feel like I’m over cooking things and have very little patience for technology and as a result find the frustration it causes derails me from the song writing process. I have instruments and a laptop and when ever I write something I want to note down I just play and sing at the inbuilt microphone in my computer, then email it to the boys.
The most important things to have here are notebooks, pens, tea, a fan heater and an old shitty guitar I’ve had since I was teenager that I’ve always written on. I’ve been borrowing keyboards recently so they’ll be keeping me entertained over Christmas too. We had a week off touring last week which was the longest I’ve been at home since the start of September, and I don’t always feel like writing when we have downtime. It tends to be intense bursts of time where I spend hours on end in there for a few days and then don’t come back for a couple of weeks.
I think in the initial stages of a song yes isolation is important because I get lost in what I’m doing and am as a result very bad company! I think that inspiration lies in experience though, so I think it’s important to venture out into the world and then go home and reflect. Also, one of my favourite things to do when I’m driving alone is to work out vocal melodies, that’s just where my mind goes whenever I drive alone. But the songs take their final shape when we work on them together and that interaction between the three of us is what keeps things vital.
Every time we start writing, it’s different. Sometimes songs emerge fragment by fragment and sometimes they come out immediately whole. I’d never want to feel like I had a formulaic process and I think I can tell when songs have been constructed like architecture, so I put a lot of faith in intuition and try and let my subconscious tap me on the shoulder and whisper something in my ear. Equally when we’re writing and arranging as a band we try and avoid retreating to music theory to guide our sound, but sometimes it can diagnose a problem.
What I like most about this place is the view.”
Sky Larkin consist of two old friends (Katie and Nestor) and one newer one (Doug). Since the addition of Doug to their band, Sky Larkin’s ascent has been rapid and invigorating. Since signing to Wichita Recordings (Bloc Party, The Cribs), they have released one single, ‘Fossil, I’ and are set to release their debut album, The Golden Spike in February 2009. The band have spent the second half of 2008 touring Europe and the UK with the likes of Bright Eye’s Conor Oberst and label mates Los Campesinos! Sky Larkin support Stereolab on their forthcoming Irish tour. They visit Tripod in Dublin on Saturday 13th December, Doors are at 7:30pm and admission is €25. For more information visit www.myspace.com/skylarkinskylarkin or www.myspace.com/maximumjoyclub