Circuit Sweet Interview, Feature, News, Reviews

Cassette Store Day 2014- Syd Kemp Interview + Release Special

September 26, 2014
Antonio Curcetti

Antonio Curcetti

September 27th is a day where music lovers, in particular music lovers addicted to the cassette format, rejoice- it’s International Cassette Store Day. For most music collectors, regardless of format, it’s the thrill of finding a release you’ve not yet found, a limited edition, low numbered release, a new/rare version of a release you have, something which has longed to be in place of your prized possessions. Collecting CD’s, vinyls and cassettes is addictive, but it’s exciting. This year, we have a specific day to binge on our cassette fixation a day which exceeded expectations since its creation last year. What was once a predominantly UK day has since expanded to the US, and support for the day, as well as stockists, have thoroughly increased. This year over 300 artists are taking part in the day and teaming up with labels and stores to release their music on cassette, all of which released specifically for this event, limited edition and something any collector will quickly snag. With more recognized acts taking part such as the talented Karen O, The Gaslight Anthem and Andrew Jackson Jihad, the coverage for the day has ruptured. But it’s the plethora of independent, some of which unsigned, some lesser known acts that we’ve got our eyes on. For these acts are the talent that shines, the musicians producing limited runs of must have items- these are the artists that we can see are honored to be involved in this day and we can only support their dream further.

This year, we are delighted to be taking part as a store stockists holding CSD releases. We are thrilled to be a participating store to hold the Little League Records Release of Syd Kemp‘s 2014 EP release ‘The Horror’.

Syd Kemp are a refreshing quartet who are reaping the rewards of their talented efforts. The London based experimental, avant-garde, rock band consist of Syd Kemp (guitar and vocals), Harry Bohay (drums), John Linger (bass) and Jack Milwaukee (guitar). Syd Kemp are an act defying genres, an act who build their compositions and add the perfect psychedelic lo-fi  twist into their penchant for technical exuberance. Each musician bouncing from one another, each intellectually composing their pieces to create a flawless projection. Sincere, lustful and addictive lyrics engages the listener, lyrics all of which compliment the underlay of glistening elements found within the deep sonic textures of each composition. Their June 2014 EP release The Horror was simply the quintessential summer release, and now at the tale end of September, with this release being available on cassette, we get to hold onto that warming ambience a little longer.

Listen in full here-

To coincide with Syd Kemp becoming the latest act to join our shelves and to find out more about the acts CSD release we had the pleasure in chatting  to Syd to discover more about the release, teaming up with Little League and more.

Before we get to the details of your forthcoming Cassette Store Day release (set to appear in our store), yourinvolvements with a certain loved label and more, we want to get to know more on you- Firstly introduce yourself, how long have you been playing and performing live?

In the band we’ve all been playing and performing live for a very long time. Jack (guitar) has been busy with his project M!R!M for about 5 years, Harry (drums) used to play bass with the band Dark Horses for about 5 years too, and John (bass) is the singer and guitarist in Neils Children who’ve been around for more than 10 years! I, myself (Syd), play bass in Neils Children. So we’re all used to play live really, and enjoy it a lot. Our first gig was quite funny for us though cause it was a first for all of us in a way: Jack never played with a full band before as he uses loops with M!R!M, John never played bass live before, same for Harry with the drums and me with the guitar.

 What was it that first got you to pick up an instrument and direct your passion?

I used to play drums when I was about 10 years old as part of my education I’d say, so it didn’t come from me that much. Whereas picking the bass was a real choice for me. I was 14 years old and I was listening to Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin for the first time, and the instrument and sound that impressed me the most was the bass.

 How did the structure of the band form?

Well I had a lot of songs I wanted to play live just as a one-off gig and I asked around to the people I had met and liked when sharing a bill to see if they would be interested to join me on this project. We started to rehearse and it’s when I realized the potential of the songs, and mostly the people I was playing with. From the start we had so much fun it was obvious it would be something more than a side project!

How would you personally describe your own sound in one word.


In June of this year you released your new EP ‘The HORROR’- we would love to know the ins and outs on this release. Describe your writing process.

My writing style doesn’t involve writing per se. It might sound cliché but my pattern is relying on my emotions and feeling at a certain time. It’s kind of like crying, there are no formed thoughts but it’s all coming out for a reason your reason ignores, and you can’t really stop it. I record layers and layers of instruments, improvised vocals, and I do a mix on the go. Most of the time I finish demoing a song in less than an hour. It’s something I can’t control at all.

From the writing process, the recording process followed, how did this come about and what do you feel your new release captures?

Well I released already a dozen albums on my bandcamp as a way to “archive” the “crisis” I was describing just before, and most of it was intentionally underworked. But this time I felt the need to do more so when I got the band together I asked Harry to come in my recording studio to lay some drums, which he did perfectly, and sent the tracks to John Linger who’s a great mixing engineer and they made my demos sounding what they are right now. I owe these guys a lot.

How has the reception of the release been so far?

Surprisingly, very well! We didn’t have a label and were starting from the scratch and in less than 2 months we had a lot of great reviews and feedback in different countries. I have to say though, the music video Pierre Bouvier-Patron made helped us a lot.

So how did your involvement and tape release with little league records come about?

I purchased a tape by Alex Calder they put out and sent them a message to congratulate them on the good work they were doing. The very same night Callum Browne (the founder of Little League Records) was skyping me about releasing my EP on tape.

 I presume you’ve had many offers/ interest to your talent and releases before but we can find your releases supported by both Little League Records and Structurally Sound- what made these the right home for you?

Structurally Sound is John Linger and Brandon Jacob’s label, my two partner in crime with Neils Children, so it was really only natural to put out the digital release with them. As for Little League Records, I really admire what they’re doing and what they’re aiming for. Callum is full of great ideas and always succeed in what he wants to achieve. It’s a label to watch closely, cause they’re releasing some great “unknown” bands! Alex Calder, Forever Lesbians and Separator are my favorites, check them out.

 International Cassette Store Day is rapidly approaching, September 27th and Little League Records is set to release ‘The Horror’ as part of this independent event- how did the CSD release come about?

Harry and I recorded and mixed a 22 minutes B-Side in 4 hours on a Sunday evening. We wanted to capture the spirit of the tape so we wanted to keep it low-fi and spontaneous. Unfortunately I broke my tape recorder just before so we couldn’t record it on cassette. It was really intense; we first laid down the drums and the bass, and then added the guitars. It was all improvised. We sat in front of each other both a guitar in our hands, and recorded on the rhythm section we just did. Then we spent some time on the arrangement and mixing and that’s about it!

What are you looking forward to most about the release on September 27th?

The fact it’s actually going to be a physical release and you’ll be able to find it in stores. The artwork that Cammie did for the release really captures the music, so it’s great to able to associate physically both music and vision. I’m also really glad we sold out!

We are delighted and honored that we will be stocking the release in our online store, but where else can we all find the release?

You can find the tape in the UK of course, at Norman Records and Independent Music News, France at Ballades Sonores in Paris and Ex-Vinylo, Belgium and Denmark at Wool-E-Shop and Insula Music, but also in the USA at Total Drag.

We love the release but lets talk about you live- what do your live shows possess?

As I pointed out, I’ve got an amazing band with me, so it enables us to push the music way further than the recordings. We quite often surprise people cause we cannot really be categorize, and it’s more obvious live, as we’re stretching out songs and taking our time to work on subtleties, silences and walls of sound. It’s all I ever wanted from a live performance and I think we’re heading in this direction that a lot of bands seem to ignore now days. So far, we had a great feedback from our live performances, but we’re working hard to make it bigger. We’re a young band still, as we started in May.

Is there a particular track that you all just love to play?

I think I can speak for everyone and say we all love playing “Marble” more than any other song. It’s a complex yet simple song with enough space for everyone to bring it’s own colour and long enough to explore a large scale of intentions. Also half of it is improvised, which makes it risky for us, but never boring and actually really exciting.

Where can us UK folks catch you next?

Our next gigs are in London, although we’d love to play around Europe! We’re playing the 1st of October at the Social to celebrate our tape release. Then we’re doing an in store at Flashback records on the 10th, and we finish the month by playing at the Artrocker 10th anniversary concert with TOY headlining on the 30th.

Enlighten us to what can we look forward to from you in the future- many other plans set for the rest of this year, be it touring, recording, releasing etc?

We’ve got a lot of projects set for the next 6 months with Little League Records. First of all, we’re going to be releasing a live performance on tape late October, a very limited 7” single by November and some other tapes. We would love to get the band on the road and it’ll hopefully happen soon!

 We wish you the best with the release as we wrap this up we ask if there’s any last words from you?

Thanks a lot for ordering the tapes, and for giving me the occasion to answer these great questions!

llJoin us all weekend at   to get your hands on the release and support Syd Kemp


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