Meet Australian singer Kate Akhurst and her Swedish partners in rhyme, Hampus Nordgren Hemlin, Oskar Sikow Engström and Markus Dextegen. The fourtet, bundling themselves under the name Kate Boy, are about to play their first London show this Wednesday at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, having already sold out numerous gigs around the world. In advance of their debut here, we chucked some questions at Kate and she was courteous enough to chuck some answers back. Below you can also watch the band’s recent video for new single, The Way We Are, which cannot be described otherwise than as very high-quality pop music.
G’day, Kate. What took you from Australia to Sweden?
Music took me to Los Angeles, which led me to London which magnetised me to Stockholm. I had always been a huge fan of the darker pop music that comes from Sweden and it wasn’t until I was geographically close enough that I had the thought of actually flying there to see what I could muster up.
With the band called Kate Boy, how did you manage to triumph over the other options of Hampus Boy, Oskar Boy and Markus Boy?
Equality wins. We liked the mix of male and female.
But seriously, how did this name come about?
The boys used to call themselves Rocket Boy when they’d DJ in Stockholm and then I came along and we started calling ourselves Kate Boy. At first we just laughed about it because it was so stupidly simple, but somehow it encapsulated exactly what we wanted to be and how we saw ourselves. Like an ambiguous and androgynous character. The 5th member of the band. Kate Boy.
What was your first studio session together as a foursome like?
We had only known each other for about an hour or two before we started writing together so it was “instantaneous” to say the least. It was easy. It was the way it should be.
And was your first single, Northern Lights, fairly straightforward to make or did it take a while to form?
It was the most straightforward it can get as far a composing a song is concerned, we finished the song in one night. What took time was the mix, the tweaking of sounds til it was exactly what we wanted.
Did you all immediately and unanimously think: Northern Lights has to be our calling card as a band?
There was something that we captured in that first night when we wrote Northern Lights that was ultimately “us” in a song. But since we were all separated the next day, we just started planning when we could all be in the same city again. It was definitely our calling card for continuing the journey.
On that track you sing: “Everything we touch turns to gold”. What sort of measure of success would you use to evaluate how well this project is turning out?
It’s gone better than we could ever have imagined. And that lyric was not some attempt at a self fulfilling prophecy! We honestly put the video out late last year just for our own joy of having something “out there”. Just to release a song and video that we had made ourselves was a success for us… Now it’s just taken it even further and we’re so happy for that.
Do you have any Do and Don’t rules when you’re in the studio together?
[laughs] Not really. But we do like to use limitation as a creative tool. Not to be able to use everything at once, so we to try to have rules like “no more than 3 sounds are allowed in this part” or “use only black and white for this” etc. Other than that, we like to let everyone do their thing… The rule is to only let people in the studio who don’t need rules.
You recently performed at Razzmatazz in Barcelona. What was that experience like?
They definitely know how to party! We love playing club nights like that because it feels like one huge dance floor, you lose track of time and you’re all in it together. We wish we could’ve stayed longer!
Are the songs you’ve released so far a good indicator as to what your debut album will sound like?
We will definitely stay true to our sound, but take everything further in all directions. Some songs might be even more pop and some will take it to the more experimental side of us. Our live show is a huge part of our exploring our own sound and these coming months of playing live will hopefully make us evolve our way of making music even more.
Which of your contemporaries do you enjoy listening to at the moment?
We love powerful, strong girls like Planningtorock and iamamiwhoami. They have a very unique way of expressing themselves within the “electropop” genre. We also listen to interesting rock bands like Grizzly Bear, Tame Impala and Bear In Heaven. It’s amazing to hear the 70’s sounds and way of thinking kicked up a notch.
Finally, which of the following are you most likely to do when you’re in London this week: (i) go for afternoon tea; (ii) catch a West End show; or (iii) be sick on the Tube?
Hopefully all three. In that order. But if we have to pick one, afternoon tea sounds lovely.