If Colouring’s debut EP ‘Symmetry’ is a glimpse of what’s to come, then their future is bright indeed. Take ‘About You’ - a song that tells a story of obsession, and takes sonic inspiration from the likes of fellow Brits, James Blake and Jamie xx. But then there’s ‘Everything Has Grown’, more reminiscent of Bon Iver’s heartfelt, yet subdued sound. This is a band with a realness to them.
Following wrapping a tour supporting The Japanese House around the U.K. earlier this year, 2017 will no doubt see Colouring continue to be on the rise...
MUST-LISTEN: ‘About You’, ‘Everything Has Grown’, ‘In Motion’, ‘Symmetry’.
YOU WILL LIKE, IF YOU LIKE: The Japanese House, James Blake, Bon Iver, The 1975, Jamie xx, Rhye, Lontalius.
CDM: We recently premiered your live video of ‘Everything Has Grown’ - which is so phenomenal. Could you tell me about the live session, and how you go about transforming your music into a live setting?
COLOURING - JACK KENWORTHY: These sorts of songs start in my bedroom, and I kind of work on them. That one in particular I worked on in my house. It’s been around for about six months now, and we rehearse all the time with the band. We spent quite a while just working out how to get it to feel good, and translate it a bit more to the live thing. We just got off tour with The Japanese House, and we’ve been finishing gigs on that [‘Everything Has Grown’] and it tends to go really well, it’s a nice one to end on, it closes the set well. People have responded to it quite well, so that’s been really nice to see. It was quite an easy song to translate to live, because it’s quite a bare song. There’s not a massive production behind it or anything. It worked kind of in our favour in that way. It’s been fun to play it live finally.
CDM: What was going through your mind when writing ‘Everything Has Grown’?
JACK: I’d been doing a lot of electronic music at the time. What I always used to do throughout my whole life was play music, just sitting at a piano and writing. So it kind of came out like a natural, a more classic way of sitting at a piano. It’s a hopeful song I would say, it’s about getting over-- people go through things in their lives, and difficult times, and it’s about looking back on a point of your life where you’re at peace with it, you put it to bed, and you feel that you don’t have to look back on it with sadness anymore. You can know that you got out of it and that you’re in a good place and kind of hope the same for whoever else was involved.
CDM: ‘Everything Has Grown’ is your latest song, and it showcases another side to you guys - it’s piano-driven, and the production is a little more sparse, less dancey; it reminds me a lot of Bon Iver. Are there particular songs that lend themselves more to this more simple style, compared to songs that are more electronically driven?
JACK: Yeah, I mean, I think ‘Everything Has Grown’, is kind of the first song we’ve ever released that is more like that. The truth is that a lot of what we write is in that vein really, but for some reason we started with an electronic tempo kind of thing and people realise we do this other stuff too, it just felt like we needed to show that side. I love the up-tempo electronic stuff but I also think my heroes have always been people like Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Neil Young, that kind of popular stuff. There is nothing better than hearing a proper-- you don’t need all that stuff-- a great song shouldn’t have to have all that stuff, not that that’s what this song is, you aim for that kind of thing and then the song will speak for itself.
CDM: Do you think it’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all?
JACK: Absolutely, yeah. I think in anything you learn from the experience and you learn how to change, you learn how to become a better person from it. I think for me, writing music, there’s a guilty kind of feeling - it’s an odd thing because there is that feeling of wanting to get through it, you can look back and feel like you’ve come out a good side; a better person. I think that is really important and everyone has that in their lives. It’s a tough question but I would say, definitely.
CDM: At what age did you first discover an interest in music?
JACK: I think really, it was always. My brothers and my family all played and we all loved music, I think I was born into it really, it was always a thing that all my brothers played and it was always on the cards for me. I started playing piano when I was about 12 - I mean, I played all my life but properly found my love for it when I was about 12, and then from then on I became pretty obsessed with it. Writing music came later on, around 16 - music has always been a part of my life.
CDM: I really love ’About You’. Like, so much. It deals with quite an intense feeling of obsession - you sing, “You’re all that I think about,” over and over. Do you think that obsession and love share similar ideals?
JACK: Not absolutely, it depends. I think there is that addiction. For example, music I would sound pretty obsessed, I’m in love with it, but I do it all the time and I can’t think of much else. I would say absolutely it can to a certain extent. I think when you first have that feeling it comes very much dominating, when it becomes powerful it can really dominate your life and for anyone I think it can really be a priority in your life.
CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
JACK: Usually they tend to go hand in hand but I have more recently started thinking about lyrics first. I think the better things we do start when you go into it knowing you want to tell a story. Even though you don’t have all the lyrics ready, I think that often for example with ‘Everything Has Grown’, it really was actually the lyric idea. I knew what I wanted to say and focus on, and the music was purely to back up the message behind it, it was just to enhance it the best it could but I think the goal with that song was the lyrics. A lot of my heroes, particularly Leonard Cohen, I think he’s a guy who would start with lyrics and poems - he was a poet and he didn’t really brand himself as a singer, but I love him as a singer, but it really is obviously about his lyrics. I’m definitely trying to explore that way of writing a lot more.
CDM: You’ve said that 'In Motion' marked the start of Colouring as a band for you. What was it that made you decide to re-start OSCA, with a whole new band?
JACK: While OSCA was going on, we were doing a lot of the music at the same time I was at University, and I was exploring a lot of different types of music, and music that was different to OSCA. I was writing a lot of different types of things and pushing myself a bit more. We were doing that as a band as well, we were falling in love with other things and it all felt… ‘In Motion’ was the first one that we felt was the start to a new thing and OSCA just felt like we had done what we wanted to do. Colouring just felt like this opportunity to start a new thing and have more freedom and possibility to try different things, that’s why it has been really fun that we can evoke emotion in a song like ‘Everything Has Grown’. I think that is what Colouring for us is about. We all listen to different types of music and I think that definitely is what we’ve grown up doing, listening to David Bowie one minute, to Jazz records the next. The Colouring thing is about different feelings and different colours in music, so I think that was the idea when we decided we have ‘In Motion’ - it seemed too far away from the OSCA stuff, so we thought, “Okay, well why don’t we take a step back and see what we can do here?” It all kind of stemmed from that really.
CDM: Oscar Peterson inspired the name of OSCA - was there anything in particular that inspired the name Colouring?
JACK: Well, actually it was kind of that, it was freedom and exploration I guess. I went to an art school called Goldsmiths in London and I was studying a lot of music, but also art - different kinds of movements in popular culture. I got really into looking at modern painters and things like that, I just remember the first time I saw a Rothko painting - it was just a block of colour on a canvas, I didn’t really understand it but I loved it, I was really confused like, “Why should I like this?” I realised that it is about feeling, and it’s not about technique. It’s about creating a feeling, and with Colouring I think that the name came from that, the goal is for us is to create different music that we try to present different feelings with.
CDM: I found it interesting that you haven’t done the classic ‘delete all evidence of former band’ from the Internet move that so many artists do when they change name, or style. Was this a deliberate choice for you?
JACK: No. <laughs> We love OSCA and we are very proud of what we did. So many of my heroes have different projects, it’s about looking back on it and going, “Oh that was our lives then, and it isn’t now.” Maybe five years down the line we’ll be doing something different, but our label were great about it and they were all just like, “Let’s not hide away from it, there’s nothing wrong with that.” They are so supportive of us and it’s brilliant, we love them.
CDM: You guys just wrapped a UK tour supporting The Japanese House - do you have a favourite song of Amber’s?
JACK: We love ’Face Like Thunder’ - live it is amazing; it’s so good we love her. My favourite is a song called 'Swim Against The Tide’, it’s a beautiful song, she’s such a joy to watch and she’s so talented. Every night we’d stay and watch because it was always different. We love her. <laughs>
CDM: And lastly, can we expect to see you play a show for us in New Zealand one day?
JACK: Oh my god, please! If you’ll have us we’ll be there! <laughs> It’d be amazing. I’ve never got even close to over there, but hopefully we’re gonna play some American shows early next month and then who knows… fingers crossed!
Colouring’s debut EP ‘Symmetry’ is out now - click here to purchase.
Watch the ‘Everything Has Grown’ live video below…