5 years is a long time to work on an album. PHDs and novels are finished in a shorter amount of time.
But that’s how long Matt Kelly and his band, Mayfair Kytes, have been crafting their debut album, Animus. With any project, there could be, and were, a multitude of reasons for delay. Money, for one, is always an issue for up-and-coming bands and the lineup needed to gain some sense of permanency.
‘Everybody’s first album takes a long, long time to make,’ Kelly says, ‘we took our time recording it to get all the elements right.’
Over such a time span, change is an inevitable process. Transitory factors such as the way we think about the world, the relationships we build and how we engage with the world around are all topics Kelly engages with on Animus.
‘Those songs started being written 5 years ago and were relevant to that particular part of my life. I mean they’re still relevant but I definitely have moved on. But they’re still very personal songs.’
‘The songs I’ve been writing in the last year or two haven’t been so much about me…or myself…or I, so it’s good to get them out and get them moving so I can move on to the next thing,’ Kelly explains.
Kelly is the first to admit that the recording process involved a significant amount of personal growth and he was able to take away some valuable lessons from the experience.
‘I’ve become much more of a realist. I’ve learnt patience in a bigger way than I ever knew before because I had to facilitate much of the process this time. I’ve come out the other end a lot more even headed than I was before.’
There is often an old adage thrown around that goes; ‘You never finish an album, you just run out of time.’
However, Kelly believes that Animus is the exception.
‘This is the one example where that rule doesn’t apply. We’ve finished it.’
Looking forward Kelly asserts that producing the next record will be a far quicker turnaround for the band.
‘I learnt skills from doing this record that I will be able to apply for the next albums we make. The next one will be a much shorter cycle. This album blew out a little longer than we intended,’ Kelly says, ‘I think the next one will be a lot more immediate and I want it to be. This one was heavily laden, and the next one will be a lot more instant.’
Mayfair Kytes possess such an sonic character that it leaves music journalists awkwardly stumbling to describe their amalgamated sound, this writer included.
Their sound even leaves their own frontman, Matt Kelly, befuddled on what genre best fits his band, resorting to classifying Mayfair Kytes as an miscellaneous concoction of folk-art-pop.
‘I’ve always had trouble describing this particular band, it doesn’t really settle on one particular sound. There is just common threads throughout it all, and that was the best I could do as far as genres go.’
To make an original and distinctive sound today is a hard challenge to face. Often, as a way of sparking a unique brand, artists will combine a multitude of genres and hope something sticks. Mayfair Kytes are no exception. Gone are the days where artists will stick to the one sound are repeat it over and over for the rest of their career.
Kelly believes the prominency of hybridisation is due to how music technology is altering how people access and engage with music.
‘These days you have so much access to so much different music so easily, I think it’s hard to be a purist these days. You look at anybody’s iTunes and it goes across the whole board and it’s just natural progression for everything to mould together,’ Kelly says.
On Animus, produced by Nick Herrera and recorded in a local church, Mayfair Kytes employ an expansive range of sounds, including classical strings and modulating synthesisers.
For such a diverse range of instrumentation to work seamlessly together, the band needed to focus carefully on the composition of the album.
‘Through slowly finding pockets in the songs and you get one rhythm over here and you find the counter rhythm over there. Everything is balanced, there’s never a whole bunch of things going at the exact same time. Everything is reactionary in the song, something will happen that will set up another thing.’
‘It’s just how I hear the music,’ Kelly adds.
With their folk background, Mayfair Kytes envision this album as a way of stepping forward into the future.
‘Folk is where this record began and it’s moving out from there,’ Kelly says, ‘Some people do folk very well and that is where it began for me, an acoustic guitar. But it’s moved so far away from that now that I don’t think folk will ever apply again.’
‘This first record is very melodic, it’s melody on top of melody. I think we’re moving to more of a rhythmic territory now,’ Kelly explains.
So as Mayfair Kytes continues to expand relentlessly, I close by asking Matt if he thinks it’s possible the ‘Mayfair Kytes sound’ could be 3 entirely new genres on their next album.
‘Oh I definitely believe so.’
Full speed ahead.
Animus is out now
Friday April 8 - The Workers Club - Melbourne, VIC
Thursday April 28 - The Vanguard - Sydney, NSW
Alex Capper, once affectionally called by Ross & John of 3AW as the '7 foot fucker', loves the Essendon Football Club, stalking reddit and dabbing. He thinks he can speak French, but he can't.