Interview: Sky Larkin

Sky Larkin are new to the scene, signing to Witchita (which handles Conor Oberst, Broken Social Scene and Bloc Party, among others) earlier this year. I first met them in New York when our bands shared a bill at Pianos. It was their first time in New York and they had officially signed to Wichita a week prior. Almost immediately following the signing, they flew to New York for two shows and a video shoot.

Classifying them as brit-rock would be easy. It’s all there; jangly guitars, groovy, nearly danceable back beats and, um, their being a bunch Brits playing rock n’ roll. But then they dip into some Pavement-inspired dissonance, throw some delicate vocals over abrasive, ever-evolving guitar lines and use the bass and drums beat the hell out of the middle ground. And it all sounds so pretty. They’re the type of songs that make a walk to work an epic journey, or an ordinary dusk a romanticized cityscape. Listen to Sky Larkin and weave in and out of people on the sidewalk. It is a lot of fun.

They just returned from a three week European tour with Conor Oberst, and are embarking on another lengthy tour with friends Los Campesinos. In between all that craziness, lead singer/head-songwriter Katie Harkin found time to answer a few questions, via e-mail, about getting signed to Witchita, recording their album and getting fed by Conor Oberst’s crew. And below, way below, find some mp3s and the video for “Fossil, I,” shot in Brooklyn.

So, typical background questions: How long have you been a band/how did you meet?

We’ve been a fully fledged band for about 18 months. I started writing songs that would end up becoming Sky Larkin when I went to London to study but it was only when we all moved back to Leeds that things really got going.

You told me a little about recording your new album, somewhere in Seattle – how did you get hooked up with the studio? Was your label involved? Was there any pressure to record a certain type of album?

Wichita asked us what we wanted to do, and we wanted to work with John Goodmanson because we loved the sound of some of the music he had produced (Death Cab, Sleater Kinney, Blood Brothers, Bikini Kill). We had no pressure to record a certain type of anything! Wichita are a very artist-friendly label and they were interested to see what kind of noise we’d make together.

How did you become involved with Witchita? From what you told me, it sounded like a fairy tale story – is your experience at all typical for European bands? Is the label system there as fucked as it is here?

Well we only have our experience to reference, but out of the labels we spoke to, it seemed like no-one does it quite like Wichita! There are amazing labels out there so don’t lose heart!

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