Speaking to us on the phone after a busy day spent hanging out with his bandmate Dylan and his brand new (very adorable) puppy Lando, Emre Türkmen is equally enthused and bemused while discussing his new project Exit Kid and their self-titled debut EP. It’s a stretch from his usual output as part of Years & Years, but Exit Kid’s guitar-driven music has been enthusiastically received by fans, both old and new.
We spoke with Türkmen about the EP, the beginnings of Exit Kid, and exactly where that second Years & Years album is…
...you know that thing about not worrying whether it’s going to be successful or not, or what the future holds? Just focus on the important things right now about that person.
COUP DE MAIN: You began Exit Kid during a gruelling Years & Years U.S. tour - what is it about the musician/touring lifestyle that is the hardest for you?
EXIT KID - EMRE TÜRKMEN: The old cliché is that it’s, ‘Hurry up and wait,’ basically, when you’re a musician. You’re always being rushed off somewhere and then you spend hours waiting for something. When you’re touring, the worst part is just hanging around. That tour particularly was funny, because we were supporting Ellie Goulding and she was playing really big venues in America, which generally were stadiums - sports stadiums, baseball stadiums, things like that. I don’t know if you’ve been to them, but they’re pretty soulless, especially behind the scenes. So we spent a lot of time in cavernous arenas during the daytime, generally outside of town, so you have nowhere to go, nothing to do. So that can be a bit tough, but America’s always tough, because it’s so big.
CDM: I think you mentioned last time we spoke that you had bought a guitar, Misty - was Misty the guitar that started Exit Kid?
EMRE: Misty was the guitar that I bought when I got back home to record, but on tour I ended up buying a guitar in Noosa, Australia - and then we went off on a U.S. tour. The one in Noosa was like 80 Australian dollars, and the guy gave me the only case he had there, which doesn’t fit the guitar. <laughs> It’s still here somewhere. I think it was when we did Splendour In The Grass, and then we went off to the U.S., and then I started writing. But Misty’s quite a good guitar.
CDM: When talking about 'It’s Cool', you talk about how it’s important to focus on the "here and now" rather than the future. What advice would you give people out there who are struggling with the stress of the future? Especially with everything so crazy going on in the world currently.
EMRE: I’m sort of not really the right person, but I’d say exactly that-- I was reading an interview with Bill Murray actually, and he was saying how the one thing that really freaks him out most is that he struggles incredibly with being present in his own life. This is kind of a cliché and boring, but when you have a mobile phone and you have social media, it’s really easy, the first thing you think is to take a picture of a moment before you even get into that moment. So I would say, you just have to kind of detach yourself a little bit from that - it can be difficult. I’ve recently started leaving my phone, I leave it in my room and I don’t take it, sometimes I just switch it off. If I’m in the studio now, I don’t have my phone on, I put it in my bag and I switch it off. So I would say that. But on a more philosophical level, don’t worry too much about the future because whatever you think it’s going to be, it’s not going to be that.
CDM: I must know, did Josh Homme inspire you to feel confident to sing with a falsetto on ‘Caesar’?
EMRE: <laughs> He’s fucking great. Yes, because I used to think that singing falsetto was failure, but then I realised, ‘Oh, why would I think that? So many of my faves sing falsetto, even if they can probably hit the notes’ - Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke, and Josh Homme of course. The reason why that statement works with him more, is because he’s such a rock god, even though he’s not macho, he’s sort of a man’s man. He’s a seven-foot redhead, Southern American desert boy. If he can do it, you sort of think, what am I talking about? It’s fine. Also, he does it to guitar.
CDM: Have you played many more live Exit Kid shows?
EMRE: We’ve played one - that’s it. I saw Dylan today, we had rehearsal today. A show next month, and then possibly a mini-tour in November.
CDM: How was the first show?
EMRE: It was good. A bit of a blur, I was fairly nervous, it’s why I didn’t tell anyone, but some people turned up anyway which was kind of annoying. It was pretty short and sweet and sweaty, very loud, and we had funnily enough, Simon [Francis], who plays bass for Ellie Goulding - I knew him beforehand, but we became friends on that tour that we were talking about in the U.S., so he’s gonna play bass for us next month.
CDM: How does your Exit Kid songwriting process work?
EMRE: A lot of the songs are written the same way, in travelling situations. For instance, 'It’s Cool' was written in a hotel room. 'Caesar' was not, that was in my bedroom. Usually I write some music with a guitar, and then I sing into my iPhone headphones, wherever I might be. In fact, I find it better than being in a studio. So some of the vocals for 'Caesar' were recorded on iPhone headphones, and same with 'Who You Fooling?', and I just kept them because I couldn’t really sing them as well again. <laughs> If you can find yourself a nice tiled bathroom, that will work a treat.
CDM: Since the EP's release, have you been been continuing to write for Exit Kid at all?
EMRE: Yeah, I just wrote one yesterday. I’ve actually written a whole bunch. There’s probably about 15 or 16, but I don’t know if I’ll release them or not. But I keep writing, I do, I find it sort of helps with Years & Years as well, because we’re a bit further than the middle of the second album, and it’s just a muscle that you need to exercise and you need to get it-- because I don’t write words for Years & Years, so instead of bugging Olly [Alexander] to change his, I’ll just write my own and leave him alone, and he can say whatever he wants on the Years & Years stuff.
CDM: Do you have a favourite song, lyrically, that you’ve written thus far?
EMRE: Yeah I do actually, but I haven’t released it… But from the EP, I kind of like ‘It’s Cool’. I like the first line, I thought it was good. I just literally wrote it to myself when I met my wife, which still feels very funny to say. You know that thing about not worrying whether it’s going to be successful or not, or what the future holds? Just focus on the important things right now about that person.
CDM: I know you’re a fan of Wolf Alice's new music - what other new music have you been listening to recently?
EMRE: Good question. I’m waiting for the Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile album, which I think it called something weird like 'Lotta Sea Lice', I don’t know what that means. But those two are great, they’re like the same person in a way. I know John Grant’s working on another one, and he’s awesome, he’s always been awesome. Queens Of The Stone Age just did one, so that’s cool. That’s it, I think. There’s not that much new stuff that I’m into that’s in the charts, necessarily. Although the Queens Of The Stone Age album went to #1.
CDM: How is progress on the elusive Years & Years sophomore album going?
EMRE: <laughs> It’s good, but slower than probably anyone wanted, but then we were probably being foolish and thinking we could just bosh it out because all three of us really care about it. We really care about what it is going to be. We want to get it right. So it’s a fine balance between getting it right and disappearing up our own assholes. It won’t be much longer.
CDM: Will you ever actually come to New Zealand? I remember when you were meant to come with Ellie Goulding and then you couldn’t afford it…
EMRE: <laughs> Who said that?
CDM: Olly tweeted us telling us that.
EMRE: <laughs> Oh man, that’s hilarious, it’s probably true as well. I seem to remember we crashed and burned on the Ellie tour, the U.S. tour. And then I think we didn’t have the energy to go back out. So, sorry. We’ll be there soon, don’t worry... I say that every time.
Exit Kid’s debut EP is out now - click here to purchase.
Watch the ‘Remember Remember’ music video below…