KIKS and Amber and two great friends who, together…
consist July Child. They share a birthday in July (the same day, in fact) and have a definite simpatico. Their music mixes ambient, soulful Pop but has a vibe of the 1990s’ best Dance – a wonderful blend that is both modern and nostalgic. Since their haunting, uplifting reworking of the 2013 classic C O O L (by Le Youth); the duo has gathered huge interested from both sides of the Atlantic. Cover versions have formed a lot of July Child’s past: they are determined to forge original material and push out on their own.
I ask Amber and Kiks about their friendship – and how they came together. They discuss new single, Be Real and whether it will lead to more material. The guys talk about London and its importance; the artists that inspire their own sound and whether each of them is planning anything big for their upcoming birthday – 29th is going to be a shared day of celebration!
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Amber: Hey! All good.
I’ve been away this week with my mum by the coast
My girlfriend, from L.A., arrived earlier this week – so, a lot of eating and sightseeing.
‘July Child’ is a name that stems from the fact, Amber and Kiks, you both share the exact same birthday. What date are your birthdays and have you bought each other presents yet? Any plans for the big day?
A: No presents yet – we usually do a joint-party if we’re both about.
K: Yeah. I think this year we’re hiring a beer garden and getting all our friends and family down.
I can’t remember the last 29th of July when it’s rained – so hoping for good weather.
How did you come to know one another? When you met; was there an instant connection and common-ground?
A: We met through music clubs at school. I think the connection came with time.
We were friends first and then Kiks asked me to sing in some of his earlier projects.
K: Even though we’ve known each other since primary school: July Child came to be after we finished university.
We’d been studying in different towns so came back to each other with a whole list of new influences and ideas for where we’d want to take a project.
Be Real is your latest track. Is there a story behind it? How did the track come together?
K: I’d been sitting on this chord sequence played out by the piano for a while. We’d recorded vocals on it but it wasn’t anything special.
One day, in the studio, I decided to copy the chords onto a new synth (Spire) and run through presets – that’s when we stumbled upon the ‘extraterrestrial’ bouncing lead synth. that’s present throughout the track.
It was a weird and slightly annoying sound but we decided to run with it. After laying out the foundation of the track, it honestly took about twenty minutes to write the lyrics.
The track has a club-going vibe and summery sensation. Is it a song you hope will be played in the clubs or do you see it more as a beach-dwelling anthem for the coming summer?
A: I think it lends itself to both really – definitely a sunset-chilled-beach vibe, though.
K: I’d say our previous material has been more suited to clubs or lazy beach days.
Be Real hits harder in the Pop realm – so, I guess our ambition for this track was to showcase ourselves as strong Pop writers.
Naturally; radio, T.V. spots; fashion collaborations are a place we’d want Be Real and its sound to go.
In the past, you have tackled cover versions – before transitioning to originals. Was it quite hard making that shift? Do you think, the fact you have that experience performing a range of different songs, made you more confident and daring as songwriters?
A: We wrote originals for years before we put our first cover out – it’s just our first ever cover (C O O L by Le Youth) was really successful and brought us to the forefront.
We love putting our own spin on covers and it does actually give us ideas for our own tracks – writing styles and lyric combinations.
K: I think covers are a great way to showcase your prowess as a producer; because you’re taking an already-successful and popular song and trying to put a completely different, but still attractive, spin on it.
Amber’s voice is so versatile that sometimes, when we’re writing originals and we get stuck, we spend an hour just recording her singing cover songs - to see if we can get inspired by anything.
Who are the bands and artists you are both inspired by? Do you have similar tastes in music?
A: I used to love Corinne Bailey Rae and my main girl is Jessie Ware – she’s amazing and I love the way she sings. We do have similar taste, mostly.
K: Yeah. I’d say now, we do!
I grew up on Indie, Rock and Metal - and it took me such a long time to admit I even slightly appreciate Electronic music.
When it comes to pure songwriting: I’m most inspired by Conor Oberst and Neil Young.
There are 1990s Club and Dance elements in your music. What is it about the decade that gets into your hearts?
A: The decade we were born!
We grew up listening to '90s Pop and Dance on Top of the Pops.
K: I remember sitting by my cassette recorder patiently waiting for my favourite songs like Waiting for Tonight by J-Lo to come on so I could record them.
It’s funny going back now and listening to those records. There are so many ideas that are still being used and regurgitated. But, to me, nothing can have that '90s feeling - all we and other artists can do is try to replicate it.
Be Real is a hungry and uplifting track. Is there an E.P. coming anytime soon?
A: We have lots and lots of new music - so fingers crossed.
K: A few more singles coming out this summer and then, hopefully, an E.P. by the end of the year.
PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Hoare
You guys have worked for a number of labels over the years/months. Do you feel like you are still looking for that perfect label and ‘home’?
A: For sure.
We’re always open to new ideas and input – we are definitely looking for what you call ‘home’ but we want to make sure everything is right and feels right.
K: The landscape of the music industry has changed so much in the last few years.
An artist can genuinely act as their own record label, with the same amount of success, if not more. To us, it’s more important to build a team of people around you that you can trust.
Having toured throughout Europe and Asia; I presume touring is something you love to do? What dates do you have coming up?
A: Playing live is what we enjoy the most – we’re just in our element up on stage.
K: Waiting on a few important things to play out before we can book and announce shows.
We love Asia so much that we’d love to book a long tour there: going to places we’ve never been before. The U.K. has its own energy when it comes to shows and the only place we haven’t yet played is America - so hoping to get over there within the next year.
How important is London as a base and Muse? Do you envisage staying in London long-term or is there a city/country you are ‘working towards’ as it were?
A: I think London will always be our home but we’re open to ideas - if that’s where the music takes us!
K: I spent a lot of time living in L.A. over the last two years.
It’s an incredible place and there are so many like-minded musicians over there - but London is the city we see our future in. The music coming out of London is just unreal at the moment and we would love to be a part of that.
IN THIS PHOTO: Warpaint/PHOTO CREDIT: Mia Kirby
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
A: Well, they aren’t new, but new to me – my mate just took me to a Warpaint gig and I love them.
K: I’m going to be annoying, too!
Joe Goddard has been around for years as a member of Hot Chip - but his solo album that came out this year (Electric Lines is one of the most creative records I’ve heard in a long time).
If you each had to select the album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
A: Jessie Ware – Devotion
I know all the words and definitely do the power-grabs while I’m listening – her voice is incredible.
K: Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Classic and overdone I’m sure but there has never been a record so seamless and meaningful from start to finish.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
A: Keep writing, keep positive; keep moving.
K: Don’t get ahead of yourself.
You learn more about yourself and become better every single day - so don’t get frustrated if things end up taking longer than you thought or had planned
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
A: Tinashe – All Hands on Deck
K: Motez – The Future
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