Kat Day and Nicholas Wood are the Manchester-based post-punk audio-visual duo releasing under the name The KVB. Supported by Geoff Barrow of Portishead they published their full-length album Unity with his Invada Records in 2021, then single Unité. 2022 has beaconed in a remixed EP including Lumens, the video remix features Danish synthlord Trentemøller. It’s a celebration of union, because we’re finally back together after two years of lockdown and isolation, but also the duo just got married!
After their release at the end of 2021, the band attended the new wave post-punk galore event Cruel Word Festival in Pasadena, California, performing with the likes of Blondie, Morrisey, Bauhaus and Devo. Thereafter they toured across Europe and they are about to present Unity in the US this August till Autumn 2022. They kindly attended to us just a few days after Dave Smith – the inventor of sequential synthesisers – passed away, who has been a very influential figure to the band.
What does KVB stand for?
Nicholas: It's not very interesting. Really. It came from a nickname, like a pseudonym that I used for recording solo music.  And then it just applied to the band name, it felt mysterious. It doesn't really mean anything.
Kat: It's just a problem every time we go to Cologne, Oh, my goodness, they always say " they've never heard this before? Our transport system is called the KVB. Did you know?" Every time. Yes, we know. Apparently, it's not very good. It's never on time (laughs).
I think there is a bank with the same name too.
Kat: An Indian bank, Indian actor. And also there was an American football player. He seems to have dropped off the radar. So I think his career ended.
Nicholas: We're the original now.
Your first record Always Then was released in Clandestine records, was it a hard thing to find a label or how did this happen?
Nicholas: It's just the songs in the early days, the early albums are all just really demo recordings. They're not really studio recordings. And I just released a lot of music online and made videos myself. Then I eventually Clandestine Records reached out and we started collaborating, and we released a couple of tapes. And then it went on to be a proper album.
Kat: Yeah, it wasn't like you're actively searching to get out. You were just interested in releasing music.
That’s very cool they found out about you. How do you remember that period?
Nicholas: Yeah, we don't need to smack around, it was just a period of making demos and putting them out there.
I think that led you to right away touring the UK with The Soft Moon, was it your first touring experience?
Kat: No, actually our first ever show was in London, at the Shacklewell Arms, which is a really quite renowned venue in London that is great for underground bands. Then we did Lyon sonic, which is a boat. The next show was to start a European tour through a headline like that. So we were headlining.
Nicholas: We did it all by train.
Kat: Yeah, we were thrown in the deep end. We had no merchandise with us at all. Some people in Hamburg were quite angry about it. People said we looked like we had just come on our school holidays because we looked so young back then.
Speaking of touring, how did the opportunity of touring Australia with The Brian Jonestown Massacre come about?
Nicholas: We released the album on his label and it came through that. It was a long time ago now.
Kat: I never thought I'd get to go to Tasmania, let alone play there. I must say it felt like a little English town. It was bizarre, but everyone was really drunk. As soon as the doors opened at seven people were falling, pulling in, absolutely wasted (laughs).
Music and visuals are equally important in your shows, Please explain the dynamics between the music and the visuals in this sort of holistic approach or how it works for you?
Kat: We want it to be a very immersive experience.
How do you work around it, for the show?
Kat: It always comes from the music first. I'd use a variety of tools to create it. I’ve been using a lot of cinema, 4D, building worlds and animating them, which I find so interesting, I love that you don't even have to leave your house and you can create bizarre, beautiful things. And then I really enjoy putting it through video synthesisers to give it more of an analogue feel as well. So it's the digital with the analogue. There are always references. If there's something like a distorted guitar, it might be quite glitchy on the visuals. You have to see.
Do you make your own music videos too or is it a mix between collaborating with other creatives?
Kat: Sometimes we collaborate. We did a collaboration with Sapphire Goss, a video artist based on the south coast of England, we did the Unwound video with her.
Nicholas: We collaborate occasionally. The live visuals are always made by Kat. We don't mind collaborating as well, because it's always good to get other people's perspectives.
As a matter of fact I've seen some visual work from your new album Unity, I thought you were using Unreal Engine software to integrate 3D objects into environments.
Kat: I use software called Unity, which is another thing like Unreal Engine. So, the title Unity has lots of reference points. And that's just one of them.
Since 2015 you have released all your records on Invada Records founded by Portishead Geoffrey Paul Barrow. Please let me know how this beautiful accident happened.
Nicholas: Well, it was mainly through the guy that runs his label Red Shoes, not so much the famous guy that runs it, Geoff Barrow but as the other guy, Adrian Utley. He has been a fan of ours for a few years. We just kind of met up. They’ve got a very good artist-friendly approach to working.
Kat: Especially when I hear about the way other bands are treated on other labels, so I feel we're quite lucky.
Nicholas: Yeah, because we're always quite DIY, so we've always done a lot of things ourselves. It's nice to have that kind of hands off [approach]. But also they're there when we need help.
How do they support you?
Nicholas: They finance the record and they release the record and distribute all the big stuff. But the day to day things like touring, it's all up to us.
Kat: We're very self-sufficient.
Have you collaborated with him on anything related to his project Beak>?
Kat: We played with them before. They're so good.
Nicholas: We haven't toured with them but just played a couple of gigs together in London, and Berlin.
Kat: They're really funny too, they have like a lot of banter on stage.
I would love to talk about your full-length album Unity, released at the end of last year. What made you choose to keep working with Invada Records?
Nicholas: Because they've done such a good job on the previous albums. They wanted to keep working with us, it’s mutual.
Is there anything different in Unity which you have never done before in terms of writing or your approach in general.
Nicholas: [It was a different way of working] with our producer, a guy called Andy Savers. He produced the record and had a lot of input into the way that the songs turned out. We did go to the studio once and we did one song, but then Covid happened. We got to finish it remotely. We recorded it, sent it to him, and he would mess around and try some ideas and send it back. Maybe he wanted us to re-record something, or do something different or try an alternative option. It was interesting. We had some parts that we recorded and some parts that changed.
How long did the process take?
Nicholas: Including the arrangements part about nine months in total.
You have also released a separate Unity album with all songs remixed by different artists. Please let me know how that process was, the selection of the artists.
Nicholas: We always do remixes. And we always do remix swaps with people that we like. Trentemøler was someone that we’ve always wanted to remix for us. And now we’ve done that, we’re going to work on one of his at some point.
Kat: He's been so lovely. We reached out to him and he was really enthusiastic which is awesome.
Nicholas: We knew Drab Majesty and some others, friends of friends and we just did five in total, including one made by ourselves as an alternative version.
Kat: It's nice to remix. You do something different with your own song and try something else. I always really like that sort of thing, taking it apart to build it up again.
I would love to talk about your set up live, do you use the same set up in studio and live?
Kat: I got some new synthesisers but it's still a synthesiser guitar drum machine. I mean, I think this time we expanded the percussion and drums a bit more. We used a few new sounds and new textures. The base of the foundation stays the same. Yeah, the synth guitar voice. Actually, there are two voices now, because I didn't sing before. Nicholas forced me into it (laughs).
Nicholas: We use a digitrack with some samples but it is the same guitar and voice.
Kat: I use a new synth Sequential, which is  Dave Smith's brand, who unfortunately just passed away.
David Smith?
Kat: You know, the music engineer who invented the Prophet-5 and set the foundations of MIDI.
Oh, wow I should have known that!
Kat: Yeah, he's been very influential to me.
The KVB has been just you two always?
Nicholas: Yes. We've always done it like this.
Kat: We didn't want to bring anyone else in and I think it would have ruined the dynamic.
Nicholas: There was a time we thought about that. Well, maybe one day we would expand but I don't think it would take away from the sort of foundation of the band.
Kat: Even though we expand the sound on record we sort of work out a way to play it live that's more minimal and the same. We have all the same sounds on the record.
You're about to start your US tour. Have you played there a few times?
Nicholas: Not that many.
Kat: We were there in May, It was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and we'll be back in August. Then again back in September and October.
Yeah, you played at the Cruel World Festival in LA with all these iconic artists Blondie, PIL, Devo, Bauhaus, Morrisey, Psychedelic Furs… how did you end up there?
Kat: I don't know, it’s our manager. The first day it was so hot. I play analogue synthesisers and they do not like being hot. The organisation was a little bit chaotic and came late but the second day it was much smoother.
Nicholas: Well, we were away from big artists like Morrisey, or even the other artists but yeah it was a fun weekend, I think they’ll do it again next year.
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