In Conversation with: Nick Kingswell (KIEL)

It has been four years since the release of Nick Kingswell’s debut album ‘Over Easy’ and the Australian singer songwriter has since taken the opportunity to develop his sound and explore new possibilities. In the wake of the release of his new EP the Nick spoke to me about his move to London from Sydney, the stories behind his songs and his new project Kiel.

First of all, how did you start making music?

When I was about seven, a guy came to our school and told us to go home and bring in whatever instrument we can find and he would teach us how to play it. There was a guitar at home, so I took that in. As soon as I started playing it just happened. It was really easy and I loved it. And I stuck with it since I was seven.

Do you have any musicians in particular that inspire you?

Absolutely. It changes all the time. As a kid I was obsessed with Jeff Buckley, I think everyone has that period. I remember that I didn’t have my own CD player but my twin sister had one so I would borrow it every night when we went to sleep and I would just listen to ‘Lover, you should have come over’ on repeat. He was definitely a huge influence. The most heartbreaking thing was realising that I can’t sing like him, that was the hardest thing to accept. I think with age you realise that you have these influences and they can be an influence, but you don’t have to replicate them.

You moved to the UK from Australia, did you decide to do that for your career?

I just wanted a change of scenery. I had a moment of weakness and went on The Voice, I wanted to do it at the time but as soon as I did it I realised it wasn’t for me. It was still a positive thing, because it made me hungry for this whole singer – songwriter acoustic thing. I came off the show and I didn’t want to go back to the kinds of gigs I was doing in Sydney, so I just came over on a whim. I didn’t know anyone here, I just had a suitcase and a guitar and started busking. I really jumped into the deep end.

Would you say the music scene here is different from Sydney?

Yeah definitely. The most obvious difference is the size, it’s so much bigger here. I think people are really into original music here in London, which is really cool. I feel like in Australia there’s a bit of ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ going on, people don’t like to congratulate people or support them too much in case they get top big headed. I also think because I had been in Sydney for nine years before I moved here and I knew everyone and they knew who I was and it hadn’t really happened for me. So I thought it would be nice to have a fresh start and come here where no-one knows me.

You just released your new EP ‘Everest’ under the pseudonym Kiel, are there any particular stories behind it?

When I moved to London I had just recorded my first album and that was a very organic process, I just wrote heaps of songs about my ex girlfriend and went to the studio and recorded them. It didn’t smash the charts or anything, but I am very proud of it, because it was just so natural. Then I came to London and after about a year I realised I really needed some new music, but I had started overthinking everything. So when I got back to Sydney I just got inside a rehearsal room with a bunch of guys that I usually play with and we just started jamming. Then I decided on four or five songs and went to the studio and recorded them.

By the time it was finished, it was very obvious that it was a huge deviation and step away from what I had been doing. I didn’t know what to do with the music, because people who had liked my album would find it strange that it is not the same acoustic singer-songwriter sound. It’s very guitar driven, I don’t exactly know how to describe it.  Then I went and recorded “Swim” and it all made sense I knew that that was what I wanted to do and it was the sound I liked. I didn’t want to put the EP out under my name, because I thought it would confuse people, so I just decided to give it a different name. I’m really proud of it.

Whats’ your writing process?

It changes a lot. Sometimes it will be a line, like a hook. For ‘Swim’ it was ‘I’m always trying not to sink’ and I just wrote the whole song around that. For ‘Undertow’ I wrote the chorus first. It just depends. I write one thing and then I work backwards to form it into a story. Some writers are really clever and can come up with a concept and just flesh it out, but I just have to find something that works and then go back and edit it. I’m mostly interested in texture, dynamic vocals and guitar parts. If it is one of my songs it has to have a mood – that’s my only criteria. It has to hit you in the chest.


Nick Kingswell has a new EP out under the name KIEL. Listen to it here:

Kingswell will also play The Islington on the 28th January. Check out the event page here for details:

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