In the latter months of 2016, a year that had its difficult moments to say the least, an intriguing inkblot butterfly crept onto our screens, a strange symbol paving the way for an exciting new project for musicians Kier Kemp and Michael Lane. There’s some kind of metaphor to be taken from this, we’re pretty sure. Piquing our interest with strategically planned, cryptic videos, this is where the Inklings journey began.
Released in mid-January, ‘Thanks for the Insight’ marks the duo’s second single and the latest milestone in quite the full calendar for the pair already. Not known for being complacent, Lane and Kemp keep themselves busy by writing personal blogs for their fans, creating videos and are quite the entrepreneurs by fashioning their own hand-made, intricate t-shirts that are so popular, the demand for them is staggering.
GIGsoup had the pleasure of catching up with Inklings’ very own Michael Lane to talk about their humble beginnings, their latest single and a little about what is to come for the duo.
It might be safe to say that a lot of publications and eagerly awaiting fans were very excited about Inklings before it had really begun. Did this add any kind of pressure to what you were about to release?
A little, but not in a bad way. We agreed right at the start that we just wanted to make the kind of music that we wanted to hear and see what happened, not worry about what we “should” make.
Thankfully, we could tell almost immediately that there was potential for people to like what we were coming up with, so we’re grateful that there were people waiting for it – incredibly talented bands and artists struggle just to have people listen at all.
Remember, another word for “pressure” is “urge”, and it’s never a bad thing to have a bit of that driving you forward…
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Can you tell us a little about the Inklings journey?
I’m from London and we met when Kier first moved here with FVK [Fearless Vampire Killers]. They played with an old band I was in, we got on really well and our bands became friends – going to each others’ gigs, on nights out and generally supporting each other.
When my band parted ways, I carried on producing – a few sets of remixes for FVK, appeared in one of their videos, played keyboards for them at Download – and when Kier decided to call time on FVK, he sent me a message and asked if I wanted to go for a drink…
As for ‘Thanks for the Insight’ itself, there’s a delicate melancholy brooding underneath a veil of rock which gives it a mysteriously beautiful quality. How did this piece come together?
I’m going to paint “Delicate melancholy brooding underneath a veil of rock” on my wall. Thanks for the Insight was an interesting process, coming out of Kier’s head as something slightly more fast-paced and frenetic. We stripped it down and built it back up again around the riff you hear in the chorus, middle 8 and at the end. It’s going to be a lot of fun live.
As of the lyrics, I wouldn’t want to speak for Kier. He’s been writing recently by taking relationships in his life reflecting on them, so everything has been pretty personal.
As a duo, how does the songwriting and recording come together? Are there any benefits or struggles during this process having two minds to bounce off?
We come at it from different angles, and that works well. Though we both have ridiculously broad tastes, Kier comes from straight up rock, while I grew up listening to Motown before I even picked up a guitar. In the same way that he talks a lot while I’m a bit dry, ideas seem to pour out of Kier and it’s my job to catch the ones I like. Then, we build them up together into something that’s exciting for both of us.
In such turbulent and testing times we seem to be existing in at the moment, what place do you think music has in the average person’s life?
You’re asking that question of someone who wakes up every morning and puts on a playlist called “Soulful Disco” to get hyped up for the day. Music is so powerful for getting you into (or out of) a mood, so it can help take us away from the news for a while if we need.
But more importantly at times like this, we need to unite us. It doesn’t have to be angry, or to stir us up in a rage, though we do need a little of that to get people moving against adversity. It just has to bring us together, and if we’re unfortunate enough not have anyone to come together with, then it has to keep us going. For me, it needs to be uplifting and it needs to be honest.
You’ve both been very busy in the short months that you’ve been together, creating unique merchandise, videos and writing blogs etc. Is the ‘hands on’ approach necessary to stay connected with fans in the modern age of social media immediacy?
In a word, yes. But that’s not why we’ve been doing any of it. Kier with the shirts, me with the blogs, both of us with songs and videos, it’s all because we want to. People aren’t stupid, they can tell when you’re doing something because you “need” to, it just comes across as fake. The best way to connect with people is to enjoy it, and we do!
Can you give us a little hint as to what your 2017 is going to look like?
I’m not really one for forward planning, but as for the next couple of months, I know that we’ll be putting out a video when we get the time to edit it, then another track coming. In the meantime playing a few little shows to start working out how to do this live and we’ll be back in the studio soon to put down what we’ve been working on this past few months.