Kieran Christopherson gears up for release of debut record Grand Mote

by the partae
Where are you currently based?

I live in Lancefield in Central Victoria, which is on the lands of the Wurundjeri and Dja Dja Wurrung peoples.

How did you first start playing music?

I’m self taught, and cut my teeth in lots of shabby punk and emo bands while at high school in Frankston.

What’s been happening recently?

Doing too many things at once and stressing about all of it. Finalising the release of my record Grand Mote. Releasing season 1 of my podcast Grand Mote Radio, scoping out pre-production for season 2 of that. Working as a horticulture teacher part-time. Trying to be a good husband and a good father to our one year old daughter.

You’ve just released your new album ‘Grand Mote’ what the hell does Grand Mote mean?

There’s a great War on Drugs line about ‘the grand parade’, which I’ve always loved. That inspired me, but a parade felt too lavish. I searched for a term to juxtapose grandness and found ‘mote’, which means a spec of dust or single particle. I produced the record myself in the first instance, so it was about allowing the relative insignificance of my life experience to express itself as fully as I could.

What influenced the sound and songwriting?

Guy Faletolu, who I have worked with a lot in live music with Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird, co-produced and mixed the record with me. His love of RnB and the 80s is all over it, but in rather inconspicuous ways. He helped me find the palette. The sound is built on my love of folk rock, americana, and classic guitar music, but I try to add a little more ambience to it all. Not quite shoegaze, but I’m a heavy pedal user so headed in that direction.

How did you go about writing the album?
I took a fairly mean hiatus away from writing songs through the middle of my 20s. I was lost, depressed, and trying to decide who I wanted to be. When I left Cousin Tony, I found space that enabled me to slowly crank the wheels into motion again. I write simple songs, lyrically driven, but try to turn them around in interesting ways. I keep it earnest, and try to find the universal in that. Most of it was written in my living room at the piano my mother in law gave to us.
 
Where and when did you record/produce/master and who with?
I did the bulk of my recording on it at home in Lancefield, often at night after my wife was in bed. We had a child on the way, so time was of the essence. I then started collaborating with Guy and we did some work at Sunset Pig Studios in Collingwood. There is fairly big cast of characters that contributed in their own home environments too, Nick Reid played drums, Matt Hayes and Tyler Millott played bass, Lachy Rose played some keys, Peter Corrigan played a gorgeous piano part on ‘Get That Money’, Chris O’Neill composed some string parts on ‘I don’t know why I’m angry all the time’ that made me cry when I first heard them, Victor St Clair played some bonkers sax on half of it, and Guy put some perfect touches on a few songs and mastered it.

How did you approach the recording process?
I was rediscovering who I was an artist. I used to do some home recording when I was younger, so I’d had some experience, but nothing I would call capital ‘p’ production. I wasn’t even setting out to make a record at first, which was kind of liberating but also meant I had to re-track stuff that wasn’t up to scratch. It was an experiment that turned out way better and way more serious than I ever could’ve dreamed. My second full-length Tangerine is going to be a much sharper product. Grand Mote is scrappy, and sometimes unsure of itself, and I’m proud of that vulnerability.
 
What was it like self producing during lockdown?
I could’ve definitely done with some help. It was a long process, but I was heartened when I emerged from it that the people I showed the music to were fully blown away by how it had come together. Unless something significant changes in my financial situation, I’ll be self-producing forever, I’d love to set up for a month in a nice studio, but there’s no way I could manage it. I want to develop a permanent space up here instead of recording guitars in my living room.
 
Please tell us about your latest single ‘Get That Money’:
I wanted to find a way to reflect on the universally oppressive nature of our economic systems, while being conscious of the reality that I’m a white male from the middle class that owns property because people helped us. It started as a sweet ditty on an acoustic guitar, and became this big guitar jam. It’s a cool driving song, and hopefully one that people can relate to when they’re stuck on a train going to work for the man.
 
You’ve released the record with an accompanying podcast, Grand Mote Radio, please tell us about this and plans for the future: 
I had always wanted to try podcasting, I felt it would bring together much of my professional experience. In season 1 I interviewed the people that played on my record about their work, their life experience, and the modern music industry. It’s a long form interview, and I play a track from the record at the end of the episode. It was stressful to do both at once, I don’t know that I’d do it that way again. But the podcast has become quite a thing, so I’m now working on season 2. GMR will now explore the records of other musicians, and who they become through the process. I’m planning to expand the format, maybe do some live recording in front of an actual audience, and maybe get into a bit of Web 3 music territory. Nura sponsored season 1, which I was very grateful for.

How’s it been returning to solo work after 6 or 7 years co-founding Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird?
Leaving Cousin Tony was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. Lachy and I co-founded that band, and it was our dream to play in it forever. But life changes, and now that I’ve adjusted to it continuing without me, I realise that it was never going to be forever. I needed space to do my own thing, and Cousin Tony was in many ways an apprenticeship in the music industry. I feel hyped and focussed on what I want my career to look like, and I’m loving watching it slowly reveal itself.
 
Who are you listening to at the moment?
The new Kevin Morby record is one of the coolest things I’ve heard in forever. I also loved the new Kurt Vile record. One of my best friends Nick Reid released his debut Kitsch Kitchen record last week, and it’s honestly some of the most amazing music I’ve heard come out of Melbourne this year. He is an incredible producer and multi-instrumentalist, and ‘Technicolour’ kicks in the door to what could possibly come out of his gorgeous mind. Also the new Moderat record was something I’ve been hanging out for. I saw them in Paris, sober, and it was still utterly mind blowing.
 
What do you like to do away from music?
I’m a gardener. I teach horticulture in a high school so I spend lots of time thinking about plants, and working in our garden at home. I’m also a new father, so I spend as much time as I can with our daughter, that’s been a trip.
 
What’s planned for the remainder of 2022?
I’m launching the record at the Brunswick Ballroom in Melbourne in July so prepping for that. Otherwise, teaching kids about plants, dad life, and working on the podcast. I’ll keep writing tunes for the next record, and maybe do some work on an EP in the near future. I’d like to make something ambient, lots of guitars, minimal time signatures.
 
Favourite food and place to hangout?
I fricken love this pizza joint in Lancefield called Slice of Perfection. The dude is a freak and I can’t believe we can get pizza this good in a town this small. There’s a brewery getting built here as well, so that’ll be cool when the weather warms up a little.

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