THIS IS THE KIT
Gently hexing incantatory folk splendour from a Hampshire Parisian.
Artists including The National, Sharon Van Etten and Elbow’s Guy Garvey have long been advocates for This Is The Kit’s spry latter-day folk music. More admirers should come flying from the forest with Moonshine Freeze, the ensemble’s fourth album and their first for Rough Trade. This Is The Kit centre on Kate Stables, who grew up in Winchester in Hampshire and who has now lived in Paris for over a decade – along with husband and group guitarist Jesse D Vernon. Kate is half of one of the two sets of twins produced by her school-teacher parents. “My father was always making and playing instruments,” says Kate. “Mum would play fiddle and mandolin and they’d be the band at the local barn dance. When I was learning to play guitar I’d quietly join in. That was what I grew up on – and Bob Dylan and English and American folk stuff.” Amid its calm and poise the Moonshine Freeze album quietly accrues stylistic variety. The track Hotter Colder connects with memories of swimming at Durdle Door in Dorset, set to a gentler take on a Nirvana riff. Kate’s love of non-European tribal grooves also thrums in the background, while the track My Demon Eyes draws on an album by the ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey, who collected African songs and stories through the 1950s. But Kate’s immersion in British folk comes to the fore on All Written Out In Numbers, which features lines from the old English folk song Green Grow The Rushes, O. “I’m a bit of a scavenger,” says Kate. “Things get stuck in my head and I end up putting them in songs. Green Grow The Rushes was totally a family song – on family car journeys. When our daughter was little it was something that would get her to sleep. She’s still up for a bit of Green Grow The Rushes, alongside Beyoncé.” The new This Is The Kit album was produced by PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, who also worked on 2008 debut Krülle Bol. The band’s name is part rooted in the group’s historic flexibility. “Partly,” says Kate, “the name comes from the way a lot of people call me Kit. And also I never wanted it to be a fixed project.” That said, these days the group’s personnel is more fixed, with fellow Winchester singer Rozi Plain a regular foil on bass. Moonshine Freeze’s title, meanwhile, comes from a children’s clapping game – a nonsense song that’s morphed across the years. “The repetition of certain vowels and consonants just has an effect on me,” says Kate. “In the clapping song I really liked the way you had to say ‘moonshine, moonshine, moonshine’ three times and then ‘freeze’. I feel like in life we need that – we just need to freeze sometimes.” Roy Wilkinson
Plenty of pluck: Kate Stables AKA This Is The Kit, freezing.