“Laser Shot” By The Kiara Elles.
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What’s in a name? Does it really make a difference? Would The Clash’s contribution to music seem somehow less valid if they’d have been christened “The Foppish Dandies?”-Probably not, although T-shirt sales may well have struggled to get into double figures. It’s difficult to assess whether the Sex Pistols would have had the same incendiary effect, striking fear into establishment hearts if they were called simply “Giles” . . . . “Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s…. Giles,” It just doesn’t put you in the right frame of mind for a night of mayhem and anarchy does it? In fact the statement “here’s Giles” would surely presage the arrival of a bloke in a tank top and jumbo corduroys whose idea of an iconoclast is Jeremy Clarkeson, in short a bit of a twat.
But whatever your opinion on band names and their significance you’re probably aware that there are certain conventions to follow when choosing a collective cognomen. Many contrive to conjure up a name that’s achingly cool without being ostentatious; one which will look great on a T-shirt and also succinctly manages to capture the Zeitgeist,( well, in Camden at least.) You could of course be ‘a bit wacky’ in which case you’re probably in the market for a “crap-but we-know-it-band- name,” a genre which seems perennially popular with students who love to mainline on irony. In this case simply opt for the most half-witted name known to man but ensure everything is coated in a veneer of whimsy, performed with a knowing arch of the eyebrow and a conspiratorial wink, because hey, you’re like uber cool, you’re in on the joke and irony is so like, um , ironic. One rule that must be obeyed above all others is that you ensure people can actually pronounce your chosen name. Calling yourselves “The Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Delusion”, may appear to be a bit of rib tickling jape after a hazy night in the student union bar, but it’s unlikely to help you gain a massive fan base outside of Anglesey.
Alas the unwritten imperative of pronunciation was one rule which Leeds based indie hopefuls The Kiara Elles failed to adhere to and it soon became apparent that people were unable to correctly articulate their original name (The Chiara L’s). A few tweaks and the band re-emerged armed with, not only a phonetically user friendly moniker, but also a clutch of fabulous, spiky post punk, pop songs, and a wonderful debut album entitled – “Slide Over”. It’s an album in which The Kiara Elles have conjured up a delicious example of Indie punk -pop at it’s very best, proving that essentially, a decent collective appellative is a nice touch, but ultimately it’s the quality of the music produced that remains the real heartbeat of any band.
Building on the solid foundations of last autumn’s “Odio” EP , The Kiara Elles transform their sound from colourful indie analogue to glorious high definition, surround sound, new wave electro punk. Album opener “Routine” is anything but, and deals with a recurring theme that runs throughout the album, disaffection with the modern world, the desire to break free from the cocoon of mundanity and emerge transformed into something beautiful and extraordinary. It also sounds a little like The Shangri-Las fronted by Julz Sale. The slinky, seductive bass on the sexually charged “Savoir Fare” demonstrates a new maturity in terms of sound in which lead singer Chiara switches from a hyperactive Poly Styrene on a sugar rush (as on “Odio”) to teasing kittenish, temptress as she purrs “The subtle savoir faire is gonna take you there/ the charming non-chalance, the power of one glance. . .” Previous single “Laser Shot” once again demonstrates the bands ability to write edgy hook laden pop whilst “The Bet” conjures a melodic take on the strident agit pop of bands like the Au-pairs. “Nine Lives” is another outstanding anthemic swirling musical tornado in which Chiara warns “I will shake you ’round just like you’ve landed on the eye of a storm/”.
“Sunday” is possibly the one song that comes closest to channelling the spirit of fellow Leeds band Delta 5, with Chiara’s strident vocals narrating the ultimate paranoid ‘come down’ song, replete with edgy guitars and ominous keyboards. It’s a tune that anybody who’s ever woken up on a Sunday morning with a raging hangover, feeling ‘the fear’ will relate to. At it’s best “Slide Over” dances on the grave of landfill indie with its fusion of beats and angular guitar work in which the Elles manage to combine the finer aspects of new wave, electro, punk and pop. It’s accessible, melodic and possibly cooler than the Fonz’s cryogenically frozen thumb undergoing Bose-Einstein Condensation. The Kiara Elles have reinvigorated indie and by refusing to follow trends, have produced an album full of energy and verve that ultimately leaves you feeling totally satisfied, yet conversely, hungry for more. You could get fat on this sort of music ;)
“Slide Over” is released on May 3rd 2010 and can be purchased here
So what do the band themselves have to say ?. . . .Read on. . .
The Kiara Elles are CHIARA LUCCHINI (CL) – Vocals, JONNY LEE HART (JH)- Guitar, EMMA QUICK – Bass, DAN STRETTON – Drums, AMY GREIR (AG) – Synths
VP: Chiara, you’re originally from Italy, why did you come over to dear old Blighty in the first place?
CL: Always been into British and American music. When you wanna make the kind of music I like, Italy is a really terrible, hopeless place to be. When at uni I had the opportunity to do an exchange somewhere in Europe, the choice was obvious.
VP: From The Chiara L’s to The Kiara Elles, how did the current line up come together
CL: We rather think of them as two COMPLETELY separate things even if a portion of the members are the same. The sound has changed and so has our way of working. The Chiara L’s was about a bunch of people finding their feet with what came easier without too much effort, but not necessarily giving our talent and potential any justice or presenting a sound that fully belonged to us. The Kiara Elles is about people working really hard to achieve the kind of songs and sound that they really feel theirs.
VP: I’m mightily impressed with your début album “Slide Over”. Although it’s easier nowadays for bands to get their music out there, was it difficult recording the album around a normal 9-5 lifestyle? When do you actually sleep?
CL: Errrr…YES. And it’s not just writing/practising/recording, it’s all the other work you have to do to make sure people know who you are and to keep the ball rolling once the job is done. The album is ready to come out, but I am still spending endless amounts of hours in front of this computer trying to keep all the rest ticking and all the pieces falling into the right places. To answer the main questions, I do not get an awful lot of sleep at all over this, still…
JH: I don’t really have fixed sleeping patterns nowadays I’ve worked quite a few jobs with different hours and shifts my body clock seems to operate in its own dimension, the only constant it has is that it has to fit around the band.
AG: I don’t have a normal 9-5 lifestyle. I’m a full-time postgrad with a job, so I’ve got things constantly on the go – sleeping takes a back seat I’m afraid.
VP: Your sound and vocal delivery has been compared to another Leeds band Delta Five, (who only managed one album so lets hope you stay around a bit longer than that eh ? ) can you hear a similarity? What sort of music has influenced your style and also your song writing?
CL: I admit being a Delta 5 fan, them and several other new wave female fronted acts from that period and I can see where people are coming from, which I of course don’t mind. On the other hand, I never sat down thinking “Now I am gonna sing that bit just like Julz Sale” or “I am gonna write a song just like this or that other band”, NEVER! None of us do. Our influences are the very varied, literally from indiepop to dub, from 60es garage to 90es rave so you can’t really put your finger on one thing, they all come out in different ways, but it’s never planned ahead. There’s a lot of late 70es and 80es stuff in my collection, but there’s older stuff too and an awful lot of new music, guitar stuff, electronic stuff, all sort really. I can’t understand people who get fixated with one period or genre, they just stupidly miss out if you ask me.
VP: Talking about song writing what sort of themes attracts you, would you say you’re drawn to the darker side of life?
CL: Ay! I sure am, hang on, are there any other sides? Ok ok, I’m sounding like a goth now, but yes, the darker side seem to interest me the most…being happy can be great for yourself, but it can also make you really boring, it’s from the darkest side and the struggle that the good interesting things tend to come out. If you’re happy you’re happy, nobody wants to hear you bragging about it all the time. If you’re sad, finding someone who can understand it kinda makes you feel better, it’s a very special connection. Sadness, subconscious, violence, sexuality, escapism, anything like that you probably wouldn’t talk about in a typical work place: my cup of tea.
AG: Come to our rehearsal room in the depth of winter. Then you’ll understand!
VP: What are your own personal favourite tracks on the album?
CL: The most dreaded question as I love them all of course. Presume you have a gun pointed at my head then I’ll probably say Savoir Faire. I am especially happy with my vocals (lyrics, melody and delivery) I think it gives it justice more than all the other recordings, but other than that, I like it because I think it’s the sexiest and most unusual track on there. I find it really hypnotic, reminds me a bit of a snake charmer if you can see what I mean.
JH: my favourite track is probably Sunday, i like the urgency it creates. thats strictly from a playing point of view im proud of all the tracks on the album I think they show the full melting pot of sounds and themes we live through.
AG: Switch the Beat. I want to hear it on a CBeebies advert one day.
VP: Do you think women involved in music still have to work harder than their male counterparts to be taken seriously, judged by many purely on their looks and ‘hotness’
CL: I think things have got a lot better and the roles are reversing…there’s a lot of male “artists” out there who only sell because a lot of idiotic women find them “hot” and they are blinded to the fact their music is actually utter s*it, excuse the language. So not really anymore, the last few years have done us women a lot of favours.
JH: I think it depends on the genre, you can’t take men seriously from boy bands etc like the blue blooder from Busted who is inFfightstar now, people still see that he’s gash! If people are talented and engaging enough whatever their sex they will be taken seriously.
AG: I do think women have to work a lot harder; you’ve got to dress the part and put in more effort cosmetically than men, no one’s interested in a female fronted band who’s singer isn’t hot. In the past I’ve also got a lot of stick from people when they hear I play keyboards in a female fronted band, because it’s not considered a serious instrument. They are all wrong, of course.
VP: And leading on from that who would you say are the most inspiring women in music (past and present)
CL: Probably the obvious ones but there you go: Patty Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, Kathleen Hannah, Karen O….I did it in chronological order then! I currently have a massive crush on Lo from Heartsrevolution. I think she’s amazing, she has a wonderful brain and she writes the best lyrics I heard in a long time, check out “Digital Suicide” if you don’t know them already.
JH: Of the past it all starts for me from Sister Rosetta Tharpe, she was definitely the first female rock and roll star and taught most of the British beat bands a think or too about guitar, Siouxie Sioux and Madonna empowered the women of the 80’s generation and nowadays I would say Karen O, Beth Ditto, Gaga and Bjork are doing the same in their own individual ways.
AG: Probably Patti Smith and PJ Harvey.
9 Any thoughts on the Digital Economy Bill ?
CL: Pffffffffffffffff !!!
JH: All I ‘ll say is its highly flawed and very wishy washy, how can people who pay for the connection be charged 500 quid if they have been hacked and are not even aware someone using their connection to download? If you really want to stop the file sharing on a massive scale then the providers need to be accountable. It’s a double edged sword though, exposure from sharing from bands can be as good as word of mouth but bands should be paid for their creations too. Maybe service providers should give a flat rate to PRS to cover a segment of artist’s losses. Who knows either way the bill in its current rushed state is flawed.
VP: Now the “Smash Hits” bit-what makes you laugh and what makes you cry ?
CL: Laugh: non sexual objects and shapes that resemble genitalia…very childish, I know.
Cry: Being forced Scouting For Girls and other musical obscenities down my ears while at work (like that alone is not bad enough!)
JH: Father Ted always makes me laugh and if someone destroyed my guitar that would make me cry, probably.
VP: Aside from this interview what have been your most exciting and memorable moments as part of a band thus far.
JH: This has to be the tip of the iceberg Andy……. but….Playing to 5000 people in Millennium square in Leeds, recording the album, the last tour, I’m sure there is tons of excitement to come I’m just creaming my pants right now at the thought of it.
CL: Many things. Jonny’s mentioned most of them already so I will not repeat them, but I shall add, having Steve Lamacq coming to watch us play once, literally coming just for us and leaving after our set….and every time someone gets in touch to say they heard or read about us somewhere and “they love our stuff”, gets me every time J…And the day I “met” you of course Andy .
AG: Being played on Topshop TV.
Give me a five word band motto …..;)
CL: “We will switch the beat”
JH: “We will switch the beat.”
AG: “Dread one day at a time”
“Slide Over” is available from 3rd May 2010 HERE
“Laser Shot”– The Kiara Elles
“The Bet“-The Kiara Elles
“Odio”-The Kiara Elles