Photo: Jonathan Pilkington
Made up of bassists Ayşe Hassan (Savages) and Kendra Frost, Kite Base is a brave new project, forging a path into electronic music – one bass at a time. From the get-go, Hassan and Frost always knew they wanted to make music together. A simplistic origami fold was the perfect name for their project, with Frost chiming in that the fold, like the band, “started from a clean slate and you can go anywhere with it.”
Their open and honest relationship meant no idea was barred when it came to writing, be it lyrics or melodies. “The whole point of the project was to bring anything to the table, and to explore any idea outside the box no matter how crazy it sounded,” Hassan explains. “We didn’t want to stifle something that potentially could be really interesting.”
Their debut album Latent Whispers features previously-released tracks ‘Transition’ and ‘DaDum’, which both ooze with the industrial-electro influence that brought the pair together. On crafting ‘DaDum’, Frost says: “I was at this venue in London, waiting for the band to come on, then suddenly I got what became the bassline for ‘Da Dum’ in my head. It was a baby step, but I ran outside and huddled in a corner to record the sound in my head on my phone.” Their approach to writing is relentless, with both often waking up in the night to write down lyrics or harmonies to work on. “I find it really hard to rest. For me writing never stops,” Hassan adds. Yet even on tour, recording melds into the live experience, with Hassan recording sounds from the cities they find themselves in ahead of the show. “It’s a weird homage to the city we are playing in,” she says.
“The whole point of the project was to bring anything to the table.”
There’s no doubt that the idea of two bassists, both playing bass in one duo, could present a big challenge soundwise, but that’s nothing they weren’t aware of. “We were conscious it could be muddy, we didn’t know if it would work to start off with,” Frost explains. “You couldn’t just run into playing, it required some kind of approach.” Being mindful in this way allows the pair to balance the high and low tones, and to be more selective about what gets used. “It was a great experience finding out what did work and trying to retain what we wanted to keep in that track, like being able to hear a certain melody,” Hassan adds.
Last year the band covered the Nine Inch Nails track ‘Something I Can Never Have’, which frontman Trent Reznor later described as “excellent” on Twitter. Hassan recalls fond memories of discovering the band: “I remember researching NIN at the back in biology class on my computer, I was so intrigued by their music… So it’s really bizarre knowing that Trent is happy with the cover. I can’t really put it into words.”
However they’re not ones to take direct cues from such trailblazers, or even contemporaries – “I try not to listen to too much when writing” – surrounding themselves with entirely different output, if at all: “What I was listening to most when going out was hip hop. I remember listening to Missy Elliott’s last album in the car, because her beats are fabulous,” Hassan beams.
Looking forward, Frost says it’s all uphill from here: “This was learning how to do it, we have certain techniques under our belts, now it’s what to add on to our sound to take it to the next level.” Kite Base may not be skilled in the art of origami, but it’s clear their methodical yet relentlessly creative process indicates there are great things to come.
Kite Base’s debut album Latent Whispers is out now. They play The Louisiana on 14th June, and Crack’s Field Day stage, London, 3rd. Check out ‘Transition’ below.