With their second record getting a renewed promotional push, Canadian ponder-folkers, Aidan Knight, are set to play a free show for London fans at the Sebright Arms next week.
Named after their 26 year-old frontman, the five-piece band Aidan Knight hail from Victoria and wrote their new album, Small Reveal, in a cabin without running water in rural British Columbia. It’s a mesmerising collection of songs that has a strong whiff of Sufjan Stevens as well as Bon Iver, with a little bit of pop thrown in. Introspection is mixed with story-telling, over a filmic sonic backdrop, and Knight’s voice reigns over proceedings with an ear-catching sweetness.
Ahead of the band’s live date in London next week, we caught up with Knight for a brief Q&A.
What can you tell us about the music scene in British Columbia, Aidan?
It’s centralised around Vancouver, but coming from the island [Vancouver Island] we get lumped in with many Vancouver bands. Which is great, because many are our closest friends.
This will not be your first time in London…
No, I came to London about 4-5 months ago. We ate great pizza and pastry. Anything with carbs – London is good at it. Indian food was brilliant too. Obviously, the food made an impression but we also wandered into the Tate Modern and played some beautiful shows. Touring offers a very limited glance at a city, so you eat what you can and wave goodbye in hopes that you can see more the following year.
Any place you’d like to re-visit this time round?
I’d love to take in more of Bethnal Green, where we stayed last time. It seemed like a good intersection of inexpensive and interesting. A deadly combination for a thrifty traveller like me.
How important are music videos to you and how closely are you involved in the ideation stages?
It took some time to get round to making one. I look up to bands who choose music as their primary outlet, not marketing, not fashion, just people who seem to be at their best with a few instruments. That’s not to say that there aren’t fantastic, life-changing artists who straddle the line between persona and music but I spend most of my time thinking about music. It’s a great time to be working with directors, though: music videos can be much larger ideas now, even narrative works.
Where did the concept for A Mirror come from?
Natalie Rae Robison and I got together last year and hashed out the feeling of the video. Not so much the story but just the tone and pacing. It’s great to talk with someone who doesn’t want to retell the story in the lyrics. We came from different angles on how the story should go, but both agreed on that theme of love, unrequited love. Or in this case, a kind of quiet, caring love that tests you. I think it’s beautiful. The video was made for next to nothing and she and her team put together something special.
Do you think your music is influenced by any of your contemporaries?
If I said no, I’d be lying.
Which up-and-coming artists are you excited about?
Andy Shauf, Jennah Barry, Hannah Epperson, We Are The City, Royal Canoe. Hopefully all new to you, all great Canadians.
Does your live show faithfully translate the album versions of songs or do you take the arrangements in different directions?
I’ve never been interested in chasing the past every night. It’s hard to recreate the feeling of creating a song, it’s hard to recreate the feeling of recording a song, it’s hard to recreate the feeling of having your heart broken, it’s hard to recreate the feeling of playing a wonderful concert, it’s hard to recreate the feeling of playing an awful show.
Do you have a favourite track to play live?
We’ve been touring with James Vincent McMorrow in North America, playing about 30 minutes a night. It feels so great to play 4 songs with your friends, feeding off of whatever the crowd gives you and each other’s playing. It feels like one song to me. I hope that’s a good thing. I think it is.
If a famous musician wanted to cover one of your songs, which musician would you instantly agree to license such use to?
It’ll be a long time before someone like David Byrne and Brian Eno would hear my music, but it would be amazing to hear them destroy and rebuild something I made.