Dazed, Not Confused

18 April 2012 | 7:30 am | Chris Yates

A hoarse Kim Churchill talks about the unlikely circumstances of recording in Canada, and how his influences might defy his sound.

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”It was amazing man, I recorded the record there and have just come off the back of a three of four week tour around Canada. It was a support tour so it had a relaxed atmosphere for me not having to be a headliner. I could just work on the songs and get back into the swing of touring. It was brilliant although it's nice to be back in the sunshine!”

So why would a beach loving boy from the coast want to head into Canada's dark winter to work?

“There was a bunch of reasons I did it there,” he explains. “Things just lined up. There was a really brilliant studio I've always wanted to work in called Mushroom. Led Zeppelin recorded part of Led Zeppelin II there. I'm such a huge Led Zeppelin fan and my manager knows the guy who runs the studio quite well, so I think we got a bit of a hook up. The producer I really wanted to work with Todd Simko is based there as well, and he has a wife and family so it made sense to accommodate him and record over there.”

Churchill got his first big break at the busking competition that runs as part of the Byron Bay Bluesfest, and he was delighted to get the opportunity to give something back, being invited this year to be on the panel of judges. So how was the level of talent?

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“It was amazing, I'm glad it wasn't my year to be judged!” he laughs. “It was really hard to pick. There was a guy called Bart Thrupp who was amazing. He sung with a really Australian accent and he just had really, really brilliant songs and an honest vibe. The band that won called Brother Fox were brilliant, they had a real Mumford & Sons vibe, in fact it was a little too Mumford & Sons for me, but having said that, the three songs they played would have been right up there with the best Mumford & Sons songs if they were theirs. They're on their way to creating their own sound but their songwriting and performance was just mind-blowing. I was happy they won and I think they'll really make the most out of the opportunity.”

Churchill says he himself had to go through the process of sounding like other people to find his own voice.

“I think it's a natural part of the process,” he says. “Neil Young was playing songs by The Shadows, this trippy surf rock stuff for years and Bob Dylan was pretending he was Woody Guthrie in Greenwich Village. An imperative part of the process of establishing your own sound is being inspired by other people's sounds and experimenting with them and seeing how they fit. It's like trying on other people's clothes, and finally you find this combination of bits of this and bits of that through that experimentation which gives you your own unique sound.

“I think I went through a few phases,“ he says of finding his own voice. “I got the Xavier Rudd thing a lot, and I was definitely inspired by his multi-instrumental approach. And dare I say it, and I was certainly not on the same level, but I really wanted to be Jeff Lang for a while. More recently it's been heavier stuff, trying to get like a Jack White guitar sound and trying to write these Pink Floyd-esque art rock pieces and stuff, so I'm still very much in the process of trying different things, and I think my album is indicative of that.”