Q&A \\ Raucous London band 1000 Kings have mystery identities

21st January 2019

From seemingly new band 1000 Kings is an album that has been unheard for six years. Recorded by three unnamed musicians of London’s genre-breaking Jazz scene, ‘Raw Cause’ is an album that may have no follow up. 

Released via powerhouse Jazz re:freshed, ‘Raw Cause’ – say it fast for a clue to their sound and ethos – is an album that doesn’t so much hint as what is to come, but confirms that the members of the band are some of the purveyors of an Internationally celebrated movement. Recorded in 2013 and unheard until its release, it’s an album that was born of creativity for creativity’s sake, with cinematic thrillers and observant odes. The identities of the three members continue to be speculated over – but the pop star on the album’s artwork is no longer a secret. 

To mark the release of ‘Raw Cause’, we had some time with one third of the band…

\\ How ‘planned’ was the band and album? You guys all have a few projects on the go, so we’re curious to know what the inspiration was to get together for ‘Raw Cause’. 

Between 2011 and 2013 we would have free form sessions in a South-East London basement, away from any rules or preconceived ideas of what we were “going for” or what we were “supposed to sound like”. All of these sessions were recorded. We distilled some cool ideas and built upon them so we had a form and strong melodies.

We also did a few gig around town and people including ourselves didn’t know what was going on but everybody was having serious fun. The record was then recorded over two days in 2013. It was partially mixed but then life and priorities got in the way for four years.

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After I got it remixed we showed the record to the biggest supporters of the band and consistent supporters of live London improvised music – Jazz Re:freshed – and they were excited to have us on board and to put the album out.

\\ There’s a cinematic element throughout some of the tunes. ‘The Drop’ for example builds gradually with anticipation. We can imagine it soundtracking a thriller of some kind. Are any of the tunes thematic?

They are thematic in the sense that there’s a clear beginning, middle and end. But the story is told in a Lynchian manner, where everything starts out normal and as one gets deeper into the story, your understanding of a world we created starts falling apart. Like the scene in Mulholland Drive where the singer sudden drops but her voice carries on singing. Even though you’re supposed to stop you keep going, holding on to the string of fate, and hope you’ll end up in the right place. So I guess there’s a theme of pushing forward, no matter if things all fall apart – you’ll land on your feet. The most thematic tune for me is ‘W.Y.September’, because we never played it like that until we were in the studio.

I have to add that the track order of the album was well thought about as well, as in there’s a reason why ‘Fullfilment House’ comes after ‘DOOM’.

\\ Oh yeah? Tell us more.
DOOM is like an old, super fast roller coaster. You’re just waiting for it break down but it’s the most fun ride at the theme park so you have to ride it and you’re prepared to throw caution to the wind and risk it all falling apart mid flight. You got on the ride and had an amazing time, your heart’s beating, your body is tight from clenching, you’ve bitten your tongue by accident and you’ve been on the best ride in the park. The last thing you want to do is find another ride that won’t be as thrilling, so one goes for the complete opposite. You find something that will release the tension from one’s mind and body, allow the heart rate to settle down and allow the adrenaline to subside. So you take a trip on the Love Boat a.k.a ‘Fullfillment House’.
Much like ‘The Drop’, it’s like when you are just entering the theme park and you’re seeing all the rides for the first time or like the experience of visiting London’s east street market for the first time.

\\ That’s Laura Mvula on the cover, right? How do the visuals for the record marry with the sonic?

Yes, Laura Mvula is a friend of the band and is all about pushing boundaries. I played her the album, she liked it and when I told her the visual concept of the album cover she was more than happy to help out. She had also been working out a lot and got a newly formed six pack – so what better way to distil her hard work in history than an album cover?

\\ What is the ‘raw cause’ that your album is named after?

The way I see and hear it, This is a London record; the energy created from it you couldn’t really get anyway else. It’s our collective experience of the South-East London multi-cultural mixing pot, with the clashes and all.

It’s like visiting a Jamaican restaurant and they don’t have your favourite meal in stock, then heading next door to a Turkish barber to get your hair cut, then getting your clothes cleaned at an Indian dry cleaner and then you need to get some Gari and Plantain for dinner so you head next door to the Nigerian food market – it’s that experience personified on record.

Also when we recorded this we did one or two takes, maybe three on one song because of mistakes and the first take was usually the best. The majority of time we played free-form and chilled a bit. There is also not that much post-production on the recording. It is as it was recorded. I don’t like super clean records anyway, we should embrace being human.

Order 1000 Kings’ ‘Raw Cause’ on Bandcamp

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