Making their maiden voyage to the chilly capital is Melbournian indie-folk quintet, The Paper Kites. Coming off a slew of tours in the US, Canada and New Zealand, the band have now booked a national tour of their homeland, to promote the release of their debut album, States.
“The first few little demos and EPs were sort of carved and folded up ourselves. We went into RMIT studios and our friends’ studios, and we were recording everything for free,” says guitarist Dave Powys.
He’s calling me from the front of the café where he works as a barista. The hustle and bustle of a busy Melbourne street is easily discernible behind the kind voice of the guitarist.
“It is a totally different experience to be recording a full-length album. Although it felt daunting to be doing so many tracks, we felt at home with Wayne Connolly, [our producer]. Also, we recorded it in Melbourne, so we were literally at home, which made the experience so much easier.”
The Paper Kites were born when Sam Bentley and Christina Lacy began playing acoustic covers at local bars and cafés. The creative brains behind The Paper Kites, Bentley began composing originals before he and Christina approached the other band members in 2009 for some one-time help with a small festival in Queensland.
“Yeah, we got on board to help out for one festival, and after that we just sort of kept playing together,” laughs Powys.
And aren’t we glad that they did. The combination of Christina Lacy’s whimsical vocals and the seamless interplay of intellectually placed instrumentals create a genuine grassroots vibe that fits the band’s pace. They are also becoming well-renowned for their compositional talent – not only with regard to their music, but as a result of the clear, creative innovation of their unique and mesmerising music videos, which have garnered them over ten million YouTube views.
“Sam is the brains behind all of our videos, and we have had some experiences where we’ve been on set, involved in a shoot, helping out, directing and things like that,” Dave tells me. “But most recently, we’ve had producers come in, and film crew – people that we don’t know, just professionally doing the clips for us,” he says.
“We still try. I don’t know, I guess our ethos is to create a low budget piece of art. I don’t think that you need heaps of money to create something beautiful.”
Their 2012 single ‘A Maker of My Time’ was one such video, which required the band to travel to semi-arid desert to meet the film crew. While travelling to the location however, Powys says he was excited to learn that a lamington festival was taking place in a nearby town.
“We were shooting all day, so by the time we were done, all the bakeries and everything were closed. So we missed out on all the lamingtons…” he mutters dejectedly.
Travelling doesn’t always involve the quest for fresh lamingtons, however. Having recently returned to Australia after performing a string of shows across the United States, Canada and New Zealand, Dave revealed something greater that he had discovered on tour.
“The most interesting part about travelling anywhere is the people you meet and the stories that you get to hear. I think you would never meet these people unless you all had something in common, and we found that we connected through our music with these people,” says Dave.
Connecting with people through their performances was a common theme throughout their international tour, and Dave was left especially pleased by the response that The Paper Kites received in Arizona, Canada and Auckland.
“I think all of our shows sold out in Canada, and people were just really warm and friendly. No one felt like they couldn’t talk to us, you know? Everyone was hanging around, asking questions… Everyone was really genuine and wanted to hang out,” exclaims Dave.
“As for Arizona – I really loved it. The venue was great, the people were great and it was just so different to home. It really felt like we were in the United States, and I really liked that. The sort of dry, arid culture in Arizona… It’s really cool.”
The bands ethereal presence and deep, lyrically-laden choruses have garnered them international acclaim and a variety of bookings across the globe. Powys talks about the experiences with a quiver in his voice – his enjoyment for his craft glaringly evident across the telephone line. Particularly, he recalls their recent show in Auckland.
“It was a sold out show at the King’s Arms,” he recalls. “It was so good to be there with everyone, it felt like a joint experience… you know, [we weren’t] behind barriers, or up on a big stage, and the crowd weren’t far away. It was an experience where you could see the whites of people’s eyes, and enjoy the whole night together… That’s my favourite kind of show to play.”
By Gemma Varcoe