Gail Priest (left) and Kate Carr (right). Photo courtesy of Sam James.
Kate Carr has put out a number of records this year through her record label Flaming Pines. When she’s not putting out other people’s music she’s making her own and has recently teamed up with Gail Priest to produce a split LP. Kate and Gail spoke to Tomatrax about the collaboration.
How did the collaboration between you and Gail Priest come about?
Kate: To be honest Gail just emailed me. Despite both living in Sydney and being involved in experimental music we had never met. We had both been involved in New Weird Australia releases though, and I had heard of her for a long time. So she just dropped me a line and said she would like to release something on vinyl but wanted to do it as a collaboration and was I interested. A little while back I was going to play at an album launch of hers, but I couldn’t because I was overseas so we had a few near misses in meeting up. But in the end we did finally and agreed to do this release, so that was super.
Where did the inspiration behind the “Blue/Green” concept come from?
Gail: When I approached Kate to do the split LP I was keen that it have an overarching concept to give it more of feeling of a shared project that we might not have undertaken individually. However, given that Kate and I make music differently I didn’t want that concept to be too prescriptive. The idea of colours appealed because they are evocative both on a figurative but also an abstract level. The idea of blue green came from sitting in my backyard and looking at the patch of blue sky through the green mulberry tree leaves and thinking about how colours work in combination. I liked that blue and green are thought of as separate colours but they are not opposites—there’s a line where blue and green become a matter of opinion. The colours also offered great potential for using field recordings which Kate and I both do a lot of. So I approached Kate with the blue/green idea and luckily she agreed!
How did you determine who wrote for which colour?
Gail: I asked Kate which colour she felt was her and she said blue, which was lucky because I am very much green. So it worked out perfectly. I think I knew she would choose blue because of the beautiful cover from her Summer Floods release. I think of Kate’s music as having a blue-ness about it. And the more I wrote my half the more I realised most of my music to date has been pretty green.
Kate: I was stoked to get blue, i really would have struggled with green I think, but it suited Gail perfectly.
When working on the release did either of you have any input on the other’s part?
Kate: We sent each other our tracks as we were working on them, and getting them near completion. So we did offer feedback on the pieces as they were coming together. Also before we did our final pieces which are the closing one’s on each side we had already heard all of the other tracks so I think that gave us both a good sense of the release as a whole and how to close it out on each side.
Are there any plans to do collaborations where you work together on each track?
Kate: No at the moment. But I’m open to all sorts of different types of collaboration. I actually think in the ambient scene too often collaboration can come down to simply swapping files and working with them which isn’t always ideal. In this case we did talk about the concept and different sounds quite a lot before hand, so I think it made it a bit more meaningful and coherent than if we had just emailed each a few different files.
You also run the Flaming Pines record label, what inspired you to start your own label?
Kate: It is a long story really. I started a net project a few years ago called Listen to the Weather, which was for the Ear to the Earth sound festival in New York. A lot of great artists made pieces for it, and I wanted to commemorate the project and some of the pieces by putting them out on vinyl. So I started sorting that out, and then realised I would need to release it somehow so I founded Flaming Pines for the task and things have just gone on from there. I’m up to 13 releases now, which includes a few of my own, and I must admit I have been amazed by the response to the label so far. It will turn two in March and I have a host of releases planned for 2013 already from artists hailing from such a diverse range of countries as well as of course Australia. I’ve been really humbled by some of the amazing demos I’ve received from people who want to put out their music on FP.
What’s it like to run a label and produce music?
Kate: It is quite busy I would have to say. I’ve worked full-time the whole time I’ve been doing Flaming Pines, which is set to change next year, but juggling the two definitely is a challenge. I don’t think it had ever occurred to me at all to found a label until I was thinking about the Listen to the Weather record, and I wasn’t sure at all how to go about it basically. But I did have some ideas for different types of releases, like the Rivers Home 10 EP strong three inch CD series, which I think was something quite different and maybe made FP stand out a bit. Easily the most time consuming thing is building the CD sleeves which I do by hand, so whenever a new release comes out I’m pretty busy each night ensuring I have enough CD sleeves ready to go to meet orders and stuff like that. I’m getting pretty handy with a scalpel and I think I’m keeping the newsagent near where I work in Kogarah basically afloat with my constant cardboard and glue purchases. As to my own music, I’ve basically just tried to keep time to do my own thing.
The music released on the Flaming Pines label has mostly been of an ambient instrumental style, is this the main style you’re aiming to release?
Kate: Yes this is the type of music that most interests me to release. I’m not a fan of lyrics and vocals really, and I’m not interested in putting out for want of a better word more ‘mainstream’ types of music. Having said that I do like to keep things pretty eclectic, so I always do have a listen to what people send me and I am open to other genres. A German musician called all n4tural will be releasing an album of chopped up spoken word type songs on FP next year, so that will certainly be something different.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Kate: I actually do all the time. I’m a little embarrassed to say I spend a great deal of time listening to my own music, and am in fact doing so as I type this response! I do find it helpful in terms of refining a track, but also for me I make the type of music I do because of the particular mood or atmosphere it has and the sounds I make, record and work with are ones I really love so I do enjoy slipping back into that little sonic world I have created. But I also of course listen to other music too!
What other music do you listen to?
Kate: I have very eclectic taste, and listen to everything from classical to disco to drone and pop music. I like to keep things pretty varied, but also because I’ve been pretty pressed for time I haven’t listened to as much music as I would have liked, so a fair bit of it has been demos or FP releases, or other artists’ releases who I know from the ambient scene, I try and keep up with them.
What do you have planned for 2013?
Kate: First up for FP is an Australian only compilation called Tiny Portaits of a Sunburnt Land which will come out sometime in January. I’ve got most of the tracks in for this, and I think it is going to be superb so I’m excited about that. I’ve got my own full length album Landing Lights coming out fairly early in the year too, and I’m really hoping this year to get overseas a bit more and do some recordings. Then there is the Birds of a feather mini CD series, which is will be ongoing in 2013 and releases from Japan’s Yuco, a Russian musician called Sashash Ulz as well as all n4tural who I referred to earlier. So that is going to keep me very busy. I’ve got a lot of other ideas in the pipelines but I have to make sure I don’t try and do too many things at once and end out doing a crappy job of them. So that will do for now.
Check out the Flaming Pines website to find out more!