David Kitt has always immersed himself in all genres of music, which can be heard on releases under his own name. But following ‘The Nightsaver’ in 2009, Kitt realised he had to alter his artistic outputs. He found that merging all his musical influences into one channel was creatively exhausting so he sidestepped to a new project he would call New Jackson. This new avenue allowed Kitt to focus his love for electronic music on New Jackson, while his singer-songwriter work remained under his David Kitt flag. Ironically, by separating the two, he created unity – and has never been busier, with this year seeing the release of ‘Yous’ under David Kitt and ‘From Night To Night’ his debut New Jackson LP.
From the cosmic chaos of Found The One, the subtle smash from Blaze All Day, the intriguing and enchanting Of A Thousand Leaves and the comforting rhythms of the title track, he doesn’t just channel this creativity, he completely owns it.
Key to creating the New Jackson sound was the purchase of an SP 1200 sampler. Kitt explains “It’s a sound I’ve tried to get close to for almost half my life now and the only way to really nail it was to get the machine itself. It’s featured on so many of my favourite records by the likes of Premier, RZA, MF Doom, Daft Punk, Moodyman and Theo Parrish”
I sat down with Kitt to talk creativity, staying focused and what Dublin means to him ahead of his album launch in Dublin on the May Bank Holiday Weekend.
On the New Jackson sound
It’s been a gradual movement since day one, my first release was an instrumental, primarily electronic release and that is nearly 20 years ago, so it’s always been there. If you listen to The Nightsaver, it’s fairly obvious the signpost leading to this album. There are one or two songs in particular that could almost be on the New Jackson album, and there are a couple of songs on New Jackson that could be on The Nightsaver.
Why he’s most creative at night time
I’m just a bit of a vampire – a vocational insomniac. I remember Leonard Cohen saying something like not wanting the day to do down in debt, where you reach that point where you still haven’t got anything from the day and refuse to be beaten.
Overcoming creative blocks and staying motivated
I find that exercise helps you with procrastination, that you run it out of you, you get through the noise. When you come back you have dealt with some of the stuff, rather than having 4 hours of sitting looking at something. It’s a balance. Even younger people asking me ‘do you have any advice’, it’s just about showing up really. I put in 50-60 hours a week to music most weeks, and that’s really all it is – just showing up. I’m doing a radio show now on Dublin Digital Radio, even stuff like that to keep you out of the house, it’s kinda music related but it’s not that staring at the blank page. Just do something completely different.
His creative process
It’s a both structured and playful, there is a thing that Seamus Heaney said about writing poems, that you write your way into something, and then you write your way out of it. And I always find that the more you get on the way in, the better – the easier your job is. I spend a lot of time trying to think of ways to where I will get as much as possible on the way in, because the way in is the initial rush, excitement, the creativity of the eureka moment – when you can kinda see it, but then, actually finishing it..if you don’t get enough on the way in finishing it can be very difficult because it’s not as fun, playful or exciting..and it can take months to finish.
Discovering new sounds and influences
Right now is as good a time for new and old music as I have ever known. They are just reissuing all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff from the past. Undiscovered stuff, and all manner of amazing stuff that maybe wouldn’t have found an audience in its time. With that you have a lot of really exciting new music, like Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, that really blew me away. Having All City as a record shop is a good one for going in, they know your taste and they can recommend stuff. Do I dig in shops or online? It’s a bit of both. I have a couple of sites and blogs that I go to regularly, but you can’t beat going into a record shop, it’s still the best way.
On his studio
It’s a combination of new and old – it’s mainly hardware like old drum machines and samplers, and then some newer modular bits, bits of electron stuff and a lot of old synths and some more modern digital stuff. It’s a hybrid of new and old really and I’m trying to bring some newer sequencing approaches to older equipment, and ultimately trying to make as much of it bespoke and have as much of your personality in it as possible.
On Dublin Bay being the backdrop to his studio
I remember when I was 16 or 17 being in Sandymount and thinking “one day”. My parents were always slagging me saying “you haven’t made a penny but you yet have managed to live in Sandymount”. It was a really, really magical time. Just felt so lucky to be staring at the sea and across Dublin Bay. I think ultimately, everything about the house, my housemates were big music fans, there were records everywhere, you would be working on a track and you would come down and someone would be playing a jazz record that was in the same key and you would think I’ve to sample that. You would be straight back up, and there was this amazing library of music and constant flow of interesting people coming through the house. And then the view itself, I had a listen back to some of the David Kitt stuff that I did when I was there, songy stuff and you can really hear it lyrically.
What Dublin means to him
With the city, it’s a love/hate thing – it’s where you are from and as soon as you are away from it even for more than a month you miss it so bad. Sometimes when you are here it can be too small, and you can’t get away from yourself or your history or your ghosts on every second corner, but I think the overriding feeling is one of massive love. It’s an amazing place, and you appreciate it more as you get older.
When he finally got that SP 1200 sampler
It was a very big moment, I borrowed one ..I’ve always heard it on records and thought “oh my god how do you get that sound” and tried to get it with sample banks that you buy for Ableton or different filters and plugins and stuff like that. It was an aesthetic that really influenced my work but I never quite nailed it because I didn’t have the actual machine itself. I borrowed one from someone from Paudi Ahern, just to make sure because I wasn’t going to buy one because they are quite expensive, I wasn’t going to buy it just on spec. And literally the first day it did exactly what I hoped it would do. I use it every day and it just brings me great joy.
On his other influences for ‘From Night to Night’
It’s a long journey, it goes back all the way to being an 18-year-old going to see Billy Scurry in the Temple of Sound…It’s not like it’s a retro record or anything, it’s a fresh take on some stuff that’s been with me a long time.
Why ‘From Night To Night’ was chosen and the title track
It just summed up the album as a whole. It came right in the middle of making the record, it was after my first time playing in Panorama Bar and there were a lot of friends over for it and my girlfriend and stuff, and it was just one of those magical weekends that kinda sticks out.
I suppose there are certain things with New Jackson that I already feel like I’ve kinda ticked a few boxes, that I wasn’t expecting to ever tick. I’m playing there for the third time in a few weeks, and there is a part of me that wonders how long I can sustain the nocturnal approach, and so and also I kinda was very aware that this is going to be my last time living in a house with a bunch of music freaks.
I thought it was a good title – from the night shift to the night people, to my fellow vampires and to the night itself.
The album’s artwork
I bought that picture from an exhibition of Rich Gilligan’s about 8/9 years ago, it’s a polaroid actually of his wife’s parents house in West Kerry. I was struggling a bit with the artwork and I was just sitting at home one day and I just thought that’s it..that’s the cover. And Donal Thornton did this thing with the design that really lifts it as well. It’s a lovely collaboration between everyone. Rich has just done a video for Anya’s Piano, and he’s someone that I’ve been working with for a long time, he did the cover of The Nightsaver too. I’m just really happy for it to be him. It’s one of those things that wasn’t that difficult in the end.
On approaching All City Records
I’d been trying to get Olan (All City label boss) to release something of mine for a while, so I was like “ok I really have to make my case” and I think Olan really thought I was giving him stuff in a really willy-nilly way – him and maybe 8 other labels, and seeing what stuck. But it was actually genuinely head and shoulders above any other labels that I wanted to work with and a lot of that is just instinct really. So when you actually start working with someone that’s when it you see what it’s all about and it’s been a very fruitful relationship.
It’s actually the first time I think in my whole time working within the music business where I have been more or less left to my own devices and completely trusted as an artist. And there is a level of respect between both people that makes things simple and fruitful; and we actually got quite a few releases planned for David Kitt stuff, New Jackson stuff and another new project that I’m working on. The Lock In is me and Tim Wheeler from Ash and an old friend of mine Conor Creaney, it’s a lot of synths kinda stuff that we did about 3 or 4 years ago that I’ve been sitting on that I just sent to Olan, he really loved it we are going to be releasing some of it on All City Records soon.
Find out more about New Jackson at FB.com/NewJacksonMusic