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Gemma Cairney brings together artists from two different countries to combine their talents to make a new piece of music.
Kate Stables is the staple of folk project This is the Kit who have released four albums – now based in Paris, Kate has found herself drawn to the hypnotic rhythms of Saharan music and gnawa music.
Dating back to the 12th century, gnawa, which is played on a three stringed instrument called the guembri, is the music of formerly enslaved black Africans who came to Morocco from Sub Saharan countries , and founded a model to preserve the traditions and folkloric music of their ancestors.
Traditionally, women do not play gnawa and performing in public is still a widespread taboo. But despite its deep traditions, modern Gnawa is evolving. Asmaa Hamzaoui is the daughter of a famous “maalem” (Gnawa master) Rachid Hamzaoui. Encouraged by her father, she has become the first female guembri player in Morocco and one of the first around the world with her band Bnat Timbouktou.
Kate will be travelling to Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco and home to gnawa music o to collaborate with Asmaa and see if they can merge together the banjo and the guembri to create something new.
Kate Stables is revisiting her fourth album as This Is The Kit, last year’s “Moonshine Freeze,” via a new remixes EP, the lead track from which is flat-out gorgeous.
Paris-via-Bristol songwriter Kate Stables is revisiting her acclaimed fourth album as This Is The Kit, last year’s Moonshine Freeze, in the form of a new remix EP, out today, July 19, on Rough Trade Records. Our first listen of Moonshine Freeze Remixes comes in the form of its opening track, “Bullet Proof (Blue States Remix),” premiering here at Paste. You can hear the gorgeous rework down below.
“I spent way more time than usual working on it, trying to do it some justice,” Andy Dragazis (aka Blue States) says of the remix. “I love the vocals, so the aim was to keep true to those and add my own bells and whistles around them.” We share Dragazis’ admiration for Stables’ “uniquely bone-chilling voice,” which Max Freedman lauded in his review of Moonshine Freeze for Paste, in which he deemed the LP ”[her] best album to date.”
“Such an honor to be remixed by Blue States. He’s done a very lush job,” Stables says. “I love getting to hear glimpses of my twin sister’s voice on the track. And he’s managed to bring out some of the details in the original recording and build them into a whole new space. It’s given the song a totally new lease of life.”
Album opener “Bullet Proof” is one of three Moonshine Freeze tracks to get the remix treatment on Stables’ new EP, which also includes reworks by Drones Club (“Moonshine Freeze”), Clas Tuuth (“Two Pence Piece”) and LONA (also “Moonshine Freeze”). The original song’s delicate, chamber-folk sound doesn’t exactly scream “ripe for a remix,” but Blue States makes synth-pop magic with it, expanding on the stripped-down track’s subtle electronic accents and building out its minimalist percussion. The result is a mesmerizing rework that stands apart from “Bullet Proof” while remaining true to the wistful beauty of the original composition.
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Only one female performer – This is the Kit – has been nominated in this year’s prestigious songwriting awards.
The Ivors, which are judged and presented by other musicians, “celebrate, honour and reward excellence” in British and Irish songwriting and composing [ . . . ]
ONE day many years ago Kate Stables’ father returned from a car boot sale with a novelty item under his arm. A collector of musical instruments, esoteric and otherwise, he’d spied a banjo amid the bric-a-brac and stumped up on the spot.
At home his daughter, an aspiring songwriter, picked it up and started strumming. She liked how it sounded — warm but with an edge, familiar yet with hints of the open road.
“My dad acquires musical instruments from sales,” Stables explains, “A one point he got a banjo. I started writing on it.”
Fans of contemporary English folk-rock will bowled over by the music Stables records as This Is The Kit. Wispy and just the right side of ethereal, she has, across a 12-year career, taken her place alongside Laura Marling and The Unthanks at the top table of acoustic British songwriters.
Among her prominent fans, Elbow’s Guy Garvey was such an enthusiastic cheerleader that he fronted a BBC radio documentary in which he argued her 2010 LP, Wriggle Out The Restless, deserved a Mercury Music Prize nomination (it didn’t receive one).
The secret ingredient to her writing, it can be argued, is its intensity. There’s an edge to her playing and, especially, her voice that keeps at bay the tweeness often an unfortunate byproduct of middle-class, home counties types donning waistcoats and bashing banjos.
Her journey has, moreover, been circuitous and then some. It is a supreme irony that Stables had to move to Paris in order to hone a distinctly British sound.
“Living in a foreign country widens your perceptions a bit,” she says, “I’m not saying that not living in a foreign country narrows your perceptions. But you’re used to meeting new people in new countries — for me, I found that I’ve learned stuff.” [ . . . ]
Read More: Acoustic endeavours pay off for This Is The Kit