Kite Base

Kite Base
Kite Base - by Garry Hensey
Kite Base - by Garry Hensey
Kite Base - by Garry Hensey
Kite Base - by Iona Dee
Kite Base - by Terry Tyldesley
Kite Base - by Terry Tyldesley

Kite Base create compelling dark electronic tunes, and they are performing at Glastonbury Festival 2017. Their acclaimed debut album ‘Latent Whispers’ fuses harmonies, synths and beats with fierce rhythmic bass lines and sonic experiments - the result is post-punk / pop with edge. The duo is made up of two bass players - Kendra Frost, and Ayse Hassan from Savages - and we talked to them about their sound.


Kite Base - ‘electronics and bass’

Kite Base say they make ‘electronic music with an industrial edge, blending the craft of pop with organic noise’. Their first release, ‘Dadum’ shows just how powerful a sound that is, with both Kendra and Ayse on vocals and bass. Seeing them live is spellbinding - their set dynamic and driving, with the edge of Joy Division, the space of The XX, and the beats and pop experimentation of artists like Grimes or FKA twigs.

Kite Base explain the meaning behind their name with reference to a main starting point in origami, ‘a Kite Base is an opening move made with simple folds to generate a firm and fertile foundation for creativity.’

We were excited to be able to find out more about their creativity and music.

How did you come to start making music together?

K: Ayse and I had known each other for a few years. We hit it off from the start in general and then it transpired that we both played bass. Big tick! Then we listed off bands we liked and found that the majority of them were synth led or electronic. Something had to happen after that!

Kite Base - by Garry Hensey

What kind of sound are you aiming for?

K: Actually we were both really clear about what we wanted from the start and have stuck closely to those original discussions. We wanted to try and write melodic songs and explore how two basses could work alongside each other, let them take centre stage sound wise, add in electronics that were part inspired by that Sheffield school of thought and part dance orientated.

A: The main question was how to incorporate two basses without comprising the songs we wanted to write. We wanted to write music with contrasts, abrasion, melody, harmonies with a chance to experiment with the use of sound/field recording in our live show.

How do you write your songs, tell us a bit about the process?

K: By inviting a bit of alchemy into the mix! Start with a sound, a beat, a melody or lyric, then if Ayse is on the road, we beam ideas over to each other digitally. That’s where DAW’s come into play for us really - initial composition sketches rather than live use. However, after having seen Holly Herndon play recently, she has totally changed the game for me about using one live. She is my new Delia Derbyshire! Amazing.

A: Being on the road can be a great source of inspiration, I remember taking my Zoom around with me and recording interesting noises from all over the world, in the hope that we would manipulate and use those sounds as samples or as inspiration. We intend to incorporate more of these sounds during our live shows, with each field recording I can remember the location and the feeling I felt.

Kite Base - by Terry Tyldesley

What kind of musical experimentation are you doing in Kite Base, for example using new or vintage synths, loops and field recordings?

K: I had a fantastic session with Phil Winter (Wrangler) and Guido Zen (Vactrol Park) the other evening. I’m a huge fan of them both. Guido makes his own synths, oh my lord! I learnt a shed load in one sitting - different approaches to making catalysts and other ways to sculpt sounds. I think it’s really vital to fuel your own practise by seeking out others who work in a similar vein, sonically or otherwise. It keeps you on your toes.

A: For me, it’s an exploration of using my voice as an instrument, I want to sing more live as well as manipulating field recordings, I’ve been researching various techniques of manipulation. It’s always good to challenge yourself with something new, to push yourself out of you comfort zone.

With two bass players in the band, how do you divide up the bass playing?

K: Like a rhythm and a lead guitar would… that’s the beauty of it for me.

A: Kendra and I have different playing styles which naturally dictates who plays what in each song.

Kite Base - by Terry Tyldesley

Tell us about your recording, do you do it all in a studio or record some or all of it yourselves. Do you produce your tracks or work with a team?

K: Everything is Ayse and I up until the point of final recording. We write apart and together, using a mixture of hardware and DAW’s to produce the songs and record demos. Then we rehearse and tweak things so they work better live because things inevitably sound different once you turn everything up to 11 and kick in a plethora of pedals. By that stage, we are happy with what we’ve written and want to open up the process as to what else can be done to adorn and enhance these ideas on record. I record my own vocals the whole way through though - I’m learning a lot about my voice by producing myself there and I haven’t finished exploring that yet. Never say never though! Best to stay open!

Kite Base - by Terry Tyldesley

How important is it to you to have a particular band philosophy and visual aesthetic, and how hands on have you been getting with this?

K: All related avenues are extended creative outlets so it’s nice to be able to be so hands on with them. Be that via merchandise, stage outfits, visuals… they are all important because they present opportunities to strengthen the thing overall. (That also makes a necessity out of doing things like hunting out a pair of heels to match the colour of my DR strings, you see!) We design and make things ourselves and we seek out people to collaborate with. I made our Kite Base pin badges with the help of my friend Oli’s laser cutter and our long suffering friend Leon helped us realise our design for the T-shirts that make up our logo when you stand as a duo. Craig Ward designed our beautiful artwork, Sam Dunn illustrated our first video… it’s a lot of fun and I think as long as you remember that these things are there to support or complement the sound and not the other way around, why not explore them and be as hands on as possible?

Kite Base - by Garry Hensey