Kim Churchill

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Kim Churchill

Kim Churchill has just finished a mammoth week playing at Falls and Southbound. Chatting to me from Bunbury Airport in transit to Sydney, it’s been a busy 2014, as he relates. “I’m trying to get back on the horse after a pretty hectic New Year’s – playing Falls and Southbound was quite intense because they’re all over the country. Every morning is a 3 a.m. flight to get to the next festival site; be in that festival atmosphere and realise how much you enjoy it, and then you’re flying out once again. I got to see alt-J, though, and their new album is amazing. I love it. Their live show is pretty damn epic as well.”
Having won the Youth Folk Artist of the Year award and the Bluesfest Busking competition early in his career, Churchill has developed into one of the hottest acts in Australia and around the world and spends the majority of the year in Canada and North America. Over the next few weeks, Churchill is touring all around Australia in support of his third album, Silence/Win. The new album was recorded in the summer of 2013 in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island and sees a change in Churchill’s recording methods, by enlisting producer Warne Livesey.
Speaking about that turning point in his music, Churchill believes that it was a decision that had to be made for his music to move forwards. “Paradoxically, by relinquishing control to somebody else I think this record has a clarity and has really captured who I am in a way I was unable to achieve on my own.”
If you haven’t checked out Churchill’s music since his brilliant debut record With Sword and Shield, which came out a few years ago now, there is quite a different polished and refined sound to his latest release. ‘Window to the Sky’ is the most successful single of this release, and something that Churchill urges you vote for in the Hottest 100.
“I’ve been doing all the right things on social media to try and promote it. I’m not really fussed about where I get in the poll though. It’s nice to be included and recognised, but it’s not a matter of life and death. We’ll just wait and see what happens.”
Silence/Win is a collection of songs that is very personal, and he talks about life on the road and living as a world traveller. “I think that this album is the first real one that I feel confident taking all around the world with me. It’s the first time I’ve collaborated with a producer, and Warne is a genius.
“I actually think that I preferred this process a lot more. I’ve learned a lot this time around and think that the fun we had in the studio translates to this record. It’s been a nice evolution through my debut to where I am at the moment.”
Like any successful musician, Kim’s progression to where he is today has been a long, hard road full of both up and downs. His parents encouraged him to pick up the guitar at age four and from there he has never looked back. It was at age six, when his father got him into classical guitar, when the real work began – many years of classical examinations from grades one to eight (the highest you can achieve) resulted in Kim deciding to make a change in musical styles.
There were many different influences on Kim’s newfound musical love. Probably the biggest was watching videos of players overseas accomplishing what was before impossible on the guitar. “A guy called Andy McKee did a song called Drifting and that is in the top five most watched clips of all time. That was a big influence for me,” Kim states.
When Kim was seven, his dad bought him the Led Zeppelin IV record, and since that day this classic record has inspired Kim immensely. “I listen to that album almost every day. I just love it. As well as Zeppelin, I was inspired by the work of Bob Dylan, and most recently I’ve been getting into a little Jack White.”
Having opened for the likes of Billy Bragg and Michael Franti, as well as playing some big festivals all around the world, most notably Montreal Jazz, Telluride Blues, Winnipeg Folk Festival and the infamous SXSW in Austin, Texas, as a raconteur and travelling musician, Churchill finds comfort in travelling the world, telling his story wherever he goes.
“I think I find the most solace in not knowing where I am going and not knowing how I’m going to get there. That way each moment contains the seed of mystery and the excitement of receiving exactly what a person with no expectations expects: nothing … And nothing is the perfect canvas for anything.”
Talking about the opportunity to be back home playing shows, which seems to be somewhat of a rarity these days, Churchill can’t wait for both regional and big city shows. “Being back in Australia is great. I grew up in a small town and I don’t get the opportunity to play smaller shows as much anymore. I’m playing for the first time in Ballarat, and my sound engineer is from Ararat. It’ll be great.”
“Everyone should come down and hear what I’ve been up to the past few years.”
When&Where: The Corner, Melbourne – January 15 & The Karova, Ballarat – January 17
By Tex Miller