Photography by Katherine Thomas
Deux disques ont marqué à jamais mon parcours musical : (There’s Always) Something on My Mind (1982) des Pale Fountains et North Marine Drive (1983) de Ben Watt. Au fil des ans, ces deux albums sont devenus des compagnons fidèles, dépositaires de souvenirs précieux et refuges éternels à l’abri du temps qui passe.
Je connais par coeur les moindres variations de ces chansons, tant de fois écoutées. Je m’y promène avec complicité, comme dans les pièces d’une maison d’enfance. Je m’y perd pour mieux me retrouver.
Plus de 30 ans après, rien ne me préparait à retrouver cette connivence à l’écoute des fantastiques chansons de Kevin Krauter : la candeur de cette voix délicate, ces arpèges de nylon emprunts de bossa nova, ces quelques notes évadées d’un piano neurasthénique et cette merveilleuse impression de retrouver intacte la trompette d’Andy Diagram.
Kevin Krauter est américain. Il n’a jamais écouté les Pale Fountains, ni Ben Watt. Il voulait juste écrire quelques chansons personnelles pour se construire. Le résultat est tout simplement magnifique. Changes, son second EP, est sans contexte l’oeuvre de jeunesse d’un futur grand songwriter. — Pascal Blua
INTERVIEW / KEVIN KRAUTER
Stereographics — You play with the band Hoops. What prompted you to make a record of your own songs?
Kevin Krauter — I started writing songs when hoops started basically. Before then I would try and write songs but end up hating them the next day. I wrote a couple songs with hoops back in high school but we took a break when everyone went off to university. Around that time I was spending a lot of time alone in my dorm room and started teaching myself how to use GarageBand. I was in university choir at the time so I started writing little tunes and adding harmony parts on top which eventually turned into full songs. I put those demos up on soundcloud and Facebook and started getting some positive feedback from my friends and family so started thinking « hey I’m not that bad at this! », haha!
Changes and Magnolia both started out as demos and were recorded over time. Did you have a project in mind or just the idea to record these songs for your own personal project? How did you meet the Winspear label and how did you meet Joe Trinite who produces Changes?
Changes and Magnolia were both recorded at my school with Joe Trinite. We met in choir and he was studying music production. At the end of my second year there he asked if I could help him record some of my songs for a final project, and that was how Magnolia came about. Almost all the songs on that EP were demos I had been working on the year before and I kind of just threw it all together. Around that time, Ben was starting Winspear and when I told him I was recording some solo material he asked if I wanted to put out a tape on his new label. So he started putting out my music and managing me from that point forward. The next year, Joe had to do the same final project so we both sent the whole year in between kind of preparing for how we wanted to record everything, and I spent that time writing songs specifically for this EP. So Changes feels more complete to me because I sort of had a more concrete vision going into it, whereas Magnolia felt more like a happy accident.
Changes seems to mark an evolution from Magnolia, where you differentiate and deepen a very refined folk writing. It reminds me of early recordings from English artists like The Pale Fountains and Ben Watt. Do you know them? What are your musical references, the artists you love, your sources of inspiration?
I’ve never listened to The Pale Fountains or Ben Watt, but I’ve heard the comparison before. There’s a record store in Indianapolis where I live called Luna Music, and the owner, Todd, is a friend/fan of mine and a HUGE fan of Ben Watt.
I’ve alway s loved very melodic and soft folk music, as well as chamber choral music so I think that goes into whatever I make. Specifically though, around the time I was writing for Changes, I was listening to a ton of Brazilian artists like Caetano Veloso and Joao Gilberto. I still love the music so much but at the time I was totally obsessed with the tropicalia and bossa nova sound. One of my favorite bands of all time is called The Clientele, and I think I draw influence from them a lot. Lately I’ve been really into Nick Drake.
The cover of Changes is an illustration of Nathaniel Russel. How was your collaboration? You left him free to do what he wanted for the artwork. The open window and the sky that seems to go in smoke contrasts with the internal photo where you seem trapped by a tree. A double personality? A desire to escape?
Nathaniel Russell is an artist from Indianapolis who’s work I’ve always really really enjoyed. I gave him a bit of direction on what I wanted out of the cover but he mostly took the lead on it. He sent me one draft that I gave him a bit feedback on, and the next draft he sent back was perfect. Super friendly guy and really great to work with. His personal artwork is incredible, and I encourage everyone to check it out.
The insert photo is a picture that my girlfriend took of me at a nature conservatory in Indianapolis, and I just really liked it so I put it in the album. No deep meaning behind it, haha!
What are your plans for the future?
For the near future, I’ll be touring with Hoops as well as doing a small bit of touring for my solo music as well. Other than that, I’m trying to write as much as I can for Hoops and myself.
Merci à Fred Valion grâce à qui j’ai découvert ce trésor…