Faith Crawford – Photography
“Imagine a violin playing amidst goth like sounds and haunting vocals and you have Kim Free unique sound.” Music Injection Australia
Music Injection premiers her EP ‘Malibu’ today. I invite you if you like alternative music or just looking for a new sound to take a listen to Kim’s second EP of her project ‘Slips’. Kim has a cult following in the US from her earlier releases under the name ‘Black Church’.
Kim Free is the best kind of artist.
She’s a classically trained violinist whose love of popular music has compelled her to compose, record and perform the enchanting bewitching music that’s uniquely her sound.
Toward the end of the first decade of the new millennium, she embarked on her first recording project, under the name ‘Black Church’. These avant-goth cassette-only releases and the performances that went with them gave her a small but dedicated cult following. In 2012, she shed her pseudonym and released Angel Shadow as Kim Free. It was followed a year later by Nevermind the Blue Skies, a 14-song collection of dreamy pop.
Now Kim continues her evolution with her most ambitious project yet – Slips.
Slips sees Kim reunited with producer Alex De Groot, who she first worked with while playing violin for the Zola Jesus world tour. For Slips, Kim has recorded several songs with a full rock band – a first for her. She navigates the delicate balance between these songs and her more familiar violin-based numbers with aplomb. The Slips project will initially be presented to the public through a series of digital EPs. The first, Make Me Yours, was released in December 2016. The second, Malibu, will be released March 2017.
The complete Black Church catalog was recently released on limited edition CD for the first time on the UK-based Reverb Worship. The Kim Free records are available digitally and on vinyl from LA’s Fine Records.
Jen had a chat to Kim about her release.
Did your early mastering of the violin assist you in your writing and the discipline it takes to be an artist?
Yes, definitely. Early on my training gave me a sense of precisely the chords I wanted, which allowed me to create the feeling of the overall sound I have today. But sometimes, it also gives me anxiety, because classical musicians are trained to be perfectionists!
You have a captivating sound that listeners can easily identify as yours, when you started writing and finding your sound was it natural to you or did you try for that particular sound?
My sound came about pretty naturally, almost by accident. It really grew out of playing live Black Church Shows. Black church was solo, so in order to perform live, I got a loop pedal, played bass and violin, while singing. That set-up was exactly what I needed to have to cover my bases as a ‘one man band’. Eventually, when Black Church ended, that live set up morphed into Kim Free, because even though I was writing songs more organically, I was still performing solo, and kept the same style.
You have already released music under a pseudonym Black Church, the in 2012 you released two other albums under your own name, how has these earlier releases formed the sound you have now and the artist you have become?
As soon as I began writing music, I knew exactly what I wanted. When I started Black Church, I was extremely diligent about making music that sounded perfect and went where it wanted to go. A lot of Black Church music was written through a computer. But that need for the right chord and the right feeling still guides my song writing, even though I write through instruments now.
How hard was it to balance your signature violin style against playing with a full rock band as you have with several of these songs?
It was easy, because I was lucky enough to play with exactly the musicians I wanted. Brian and Allen are my favourite people to play with. Brian is my favorite drummer, and Allen is my favourite bass player. We’ve all known each other and have been playing together for years, so fleshing the songs out with a band was totally natural. Also, Allen was born to rock, so he really took the lead in translating my demos into songs that work for a band.
You have some touring experiencing with Zola Jesus I noticed. Can you tell us a little about that?
Touring with Zola Jesus was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! Nika is a visionary artist, and touring with her is always fun, because she likes to plan trips on days off, so we always got to do some sight seeing. We saw the pyramids near Mexico City, the Glaciers in Iceland, and spent a day exploring Moscow. I’ve shared so many beautiful moments touring with Zola Jesus, it really was a dream come true!
Can you explain what drives you to keep up with your music as it sure seems it is in soul. Life could easily get in the way of continuing being an artist.
It’s not easy! I’m a teacher, so I have to stay very organized and planned ahead before I can even think about music. Fortunately, songs come to me, and I write them down, and after a while, I realize I have enough for an album. That’s how it’s always been, even with Black Church. It’s like a song cycle visits me every so often, and I just try to stay open and relaxed enough to let it come through.
Can you choose one of your new songs and take us though what it means to you?
Honey is a strange song, because it reminds me of Twin Peaks. And the bass line reminds me of Spanish cumbia. It’s a little spooky too, and the lyrics reference some pretty dark current realities. For example, in the USA, the city of Flint, Michigan has an ongoing crisis with lead in the water pipes. The people haven’t been able to trust their own water for years, and it’s still going on. I think of Honey as a dystopian lounge song.
Is there any touring coming up?
Nothing planned for now, there’s not much time for touring when you’re a teacher 🙂
I hear that! Totally understand being a teacher myself too!
Kim Free – vocals, piano, violin, synth, harp, chimes
Allen Bleyle – bass
Brian Hill – drums, vibraphone
Alex DeGroot – guitar
Recorded by Alex DeGroot at Seahorse Sound Studios, Los Angeles CA
Mixed and Mastered by Alex DeGroot
Produced by Alex DeGroot (with Allen Bleyle tracks 1 & 2)