The Kaje talks sonic definition to Bastille

With Artrocker declaring that he has “mastered the craft of perfect pop music”, it is easy to see why there is a buzz about Bastille. Having won over a legion of fans with his debut single “Flaws/Icarus”, Bastille, who are led by South London’s Dan Smith, have returned with the sensational “Laura Palmer” EP. With captivating vocals and huge chanted choruses, this is easily on 2011’s must-have releases, with Bastille destined to break it big in 2012. The Kaje were lucky enough to have few moments with Smith to speak about sonic definition…

Can you tell us a little bit more about Bastille…

It started out with me writing and recording some songs, first in my bedroom, then with a mate who’s a producer. I then got together with Woody, Will and Kyle to do some rehearsals, and we played our first gig back in February of this year.

How would you define your sound?

I’m really bad at trying to define what we sound like. On the iTunes shop it says we’re “alternative”… That really narrows it down doesn’t it? I guess it’s quite vocal based. Other than that, I like to try out some electronic sounds and programming alongside the more live, band instruments.

All artists get weighed down with comparisons from critics – if you had to choose your own comparisons – who would you be likened to?

It would be great to be compared to some of the bands I love, but I’m not sure if the songs sound anything like them. Also, we don’t have any guitars at all so that probably wouldn’t happen.

Your debut EP ‘Flaws/Icarus’ really raised your profile and reaped critical praise-did you feel any pressure when it came to ‘Laura Palmer’?

I guess so. It’s weird because for me those songs were just a couple of the ones that I’d been working on. Flaws, in particular, people seem to really like which is great, but it’s pretty much the only song I have that sounds like that. For me the pressure comes from hoping that people like the songs we’ve made that are quite far away from ‘Flaws’.

What were your intentions when it came to unleashing ‘Laura Palmer’?

I found it quite difficult choosing a follow-up single to ‘Flaws’ so in the end we put out four on an EP. Because I’ve tried to do different things on every song I was wary of putting out just one track because I thought that people would base their perceptions of us on just that, and I guess I wanted to give a broader snapshot of what I’ve been working on over the last year.

Can you tell us more about the thoughts behind ‘Laura Palmer’?

I had just come to the end of an almighty David Lynch obsession when I wrote the song so I was thinking a lot about Twin Peaks and the character of Laura Palmer when I wrote that song. I like the idea of her life being slowly unravelled and unveiled after she dies, and because she’s no longer there to keep things a secret different parts of her life start to seep into one another. I don’t think I really conveyed that in the song though.

Who inspired you musically with the project?

Quite a big range of people I think, no one too directly. When I started recording Bastille songs I was listening to a lot of bands like Yeasayer, Vampire Weekend and Miike Snow. And a lot of remixers and producers as well. But I’m probably most influenced by good songwriters with interesting voices, anyone from Antony and the Johnsons to Kate Bush.

You have received great praise for your live performances-how has the live experience effected your recorded sound?

It has definitely made me want the album to sound much more energetic. I want to bring in some more of the live elements into the recordings as well.

What has life on the road taught you?

Bastille started out as a relatively solitary thing, so it has been really fun going around the country and playing as a band. The main lesson I think we learned was to always check that you have a spare tyre. We slightly missed one of our gigs because there was a spare petrol tank where we thought the tyre would be. It was in no way depressing sitting by the side of the motorway, in the rain, 50 miles away from the gig, watching our stage time arrive and pass.

What is next for Bastille?

I’m going to start recording our first album in a couple of week which I’m massively excited about. Then next year hopefully we’ll just be able to release another bunch of songs and do loads of touring.

“Laura Palmer” is out now.

Words and Images by Jeremy Williams

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