KIM CHURCHILL BLUES ON BROADBEACH 2020 INTERVIEW
Blues on Broadbeach, one of the largest FREE music events in Australia will be held May 14-17, 2020. Almost 70 acts will perform at the 2020 Festival including Tommy Emmanuel, Gaby Moreno, Karise Eden, Bondi Cigars and more, with a new announcement of acts due on March 5. One of the high profile acts already confirmed is singer songwriter and journeyman Kim Churchill. The internationally acclaimed folk rock artist has not only been busy traveling the globe and recording a 4 part EP series, but he’s also been living a gypsy life at home too, courtesy of his new van fitted out with a stage and a solar powered PA system he’s been working on with Yamaha Music. Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips spoke to Kim about Blues on Broadbeach and caught up on all his other fabulous news.
Was there a defining moment as a kid when you decided you wanted to play music for rest of your life?
Wow that’s a phenomenal way to begin! As I think back there was a moment where I was laying on the floor at home in Merimbula where I grew up. I was about 8 years old and I was absolutely lost in the solo to Stairway to Heaven. I had Led Zeppelin IV on CD and I just obsessed with it and learned the whole of Stairway to Heaven and the solo and would play along with Jimmy Page. That for me is a really defining moment. In hindsight I think at that point it planted the seed for this is what I want to do with my life. It’s not that it wasn’t about music before then because I started when I was really young but back then it was thrown in with soccer practice and nippers. It was an activity I enjoyed and I also liked the identity of being the kid with the guitar. I liked walking to school with the guitar. When I was 8 or 9 was when I first started getting the feelings of creative flow that indicated a fire in me for music that would drive me on to prioritise it above everything else.
Did you have a local music store growing up that you’d visit and check out the guitars?
I did it was in Bega so that was about half an hour away but I would catch the bus to Bega once or twice a week just to go to that music store. Also above the music store they little studio rooms where they would have music lessons so it was also where I learned to play, it was definitely a little mecca for me.
Where do you find inspiration these days?
I am incredibly inspired by … especially in the last year … I have taken a huge step in the direction of making my life the body of work, fitting out a camper van that I can live in that has a stage that slides out of the side of it. I have recording equipment in there and I sort of drift from beach to beach, town to town and play music venues and I guess living this gypsy life. I find that within this way of life there are opportunities once a day or every couple of days just to sit down at some wonderful location by a river or under some trees to pull out my guitar and play for hours if I want. A lot of my songs are coming from those extended times of performing, just performing for my own enjoyment and it fits in so well with this life I have created. If anything, now my creativity comes from the lifestyle, traveling and playing shows and being in new places.
Your latest 4 part recording project is all about traveling too …
It’s a song collection which I am releasing across 4 EPs which goes under the collective title I Am Forgetting The End Again. The first EP is called I Am and that was recorded in Berlin with a hip hop producer named Vincent Kottkamp. Then I traveled to Canada and recorded Forgetting, which was done in a shack out in the British Columbian rain forest out on Vancouver Island with a psychedelic rock producer named Colin Stewart. The next EP that comes out is called The End and for that one I went to the Blue Mountains here in Australia and recorded with Ian Pritchett, who I worked with on an album called Weight Falls a few years ago and he is a dear friend. I’d say he is one of the most prolific Australian producers and has no interest in notoriety, so not many people have heard of him but he’s done Angus and Julia Stone and The Beautiful Girls, COG and more recently Boo Seeker and other electronic stuff. The final EP was recorded in Devon in the UK with the guys who grew up playing with Ben Howard. They went out on their own and Chris Bond then started working with artists and I loved a lot of what he was doing. He helps acoustic singer songwriters take a leap out of the two dimensional world into a beautiful, larger 3 dimensional sonic landscape.
You are playing Blues on Broadbeach this year. Tell us about your history with that festival.
I played there way back in 2012, 2013. I played there two years in a row and I had a phenomenal experience. They are great supporters of up and coming blues and roots artists and you just know that if you play there you are going to see all of your friends and the opportunity to spend time with each other and play music with each other. So yes, I had a couple of really beautiful years going to that festival and it will be lovely to be back.
Will your set list be concentrating on material from the new EPs?
Yeah I am getting to the point now where I have so many songs and it’s hard to fit everything that I want to play into a set these days. It will be a fair bit of material from I Am and Forgetting, then that will be fleshed out with some of the songs that have been solid rocks in my set list, so it will be a nice little mix. Also I have been playing these gigs called one One Mic, One Light. I have been playing really small venues and just doing 5 or 6 evenings. They are so intimate and the silence is so thorough that I can hear the ice cubes melting in people’s drinks. Wonderfully, the inverse of that is a festival like Blues On Broadbeach and getting on a larger stage with my kick drum and guitar amplifier and having a good bash, it’s like an enormous release for me now. It will be phenomenal to play the main stage at Blues on Broadbeach and just have a really good whack.
Tell me about your current stage rig.
It’s funny, it builds and it scales back and builds and scales back again. I feel like every time I build it up, I scale back ninety percent of it and the ten percent that’s left I get very experimental. Now I have a kick drum which has a snare trigger. I sometimes sit with a tambourine as well but I have moved toward standing more now because it seems a bit more present and I can create more of a vibe. The guitar itself runs through 5 or 6 different lines, which run to a guitar amplifier, a bass amplifier, some sort of sub harmonic lines which create some really fat low end sounds. Then there’s the acoustic sound of the guitar and the body percussion sounds, the tapping on the body. The guitar is this immense wall of layers and sounds. I sing and play harmonica and the harmonica runs through effects as well. The psychedelic element of what I do is in the harmonica
Is the Churchill (no relation) guitar still your main guitar?
Yes although a bloody delivery company lost one of my Churchills recently which has been a nightmare. I had twins, two guitars made from the same tree and they would fly everywhere with me, so it has been sad to lose the back up. I still have two Churchills on the road with me at all times.
How did you come across David Churchill’s guitars in the first place?
For me, finding an Australian guitarist that I really idolised … that was Jeff Lang. I became obsessed with him after I had seen him at Byron Bay Blues Festival when I was about 14. I listened to all his music and devoured anything he had to offer. When I was 17 he came and played a show in Merimbula and I got to talk to him after the show and asked him about the guitars he had been playing and he said they are Churchills. I said that’s amazing my second name is Churchill. From that moment I thought they are the guitars for me, Langy plays them, it’s my second name .. how cool would it be to have a guitar with my name on the headstock! It was a few years later that I met David at Port Fairy Folk Festival and fortuitously my parents were there and they’ don’t get to a lot of my concerts around the world. They were at that one and saw how important it was to me that I was meeting David and he had a guitar for sale there and they actually helped me buy the guitar and allowed me to pay it off over a few years. So all of a sudden I had my first Churchill and I have ordered 3 more since then.
Apart from Blues on Broadbeach, what’s on for the rest of 2020?
I have just started a tour called the Bright Night sessions which is a really extensive regional tour. I have built this new camper van rig that has a stage that slides out of the side door. I have worked with Yamaha on a solar powered PA system which runs off a solar panel on the roof. The Bright Night sessions is partly an opportunity to start playing shows on my camper van stage but also a chance to reconnect with a whole bunch of music communities that I have got to know over the years. For the last 4 or 5 years though, there has been such a push toward radio and I have been working with record companies and playing all over the world, across North America and Europe and I haven’t had the opportunity to visit these beautiful grass roots music communities that I know and love in Australia. I began to notice that I wasn’t as happy as I used to be. It seemed to me that I used to get a lot of joy out of visiting those communities and keeping the relationship healthy so the Bright Night sessions is an opportunity to really reconnect with a lot of those music communities and rock up in my van and throw on a gig for a 150 people.
Blues on Broadbeach, one of the largest FREE music events in Australia will be held May 14-17, 2020. Almost 70 acts will perform at the 2020 Festival including Tommy Emmanuel; Gaby Moreno; Karise Eden; Kim Churchill; Bondi Cigars and more. The event will feature 20 performance areas including the headline stages in Surf Parade, the Broadbeach Mall and Victoria Park. Blues on Broadbeach starts early in the morning and runs late into the night within Broadbeach venues. Next artist announcement is March 5th
- Dom DiSisto