AT HOME WITH KITTY DAISY AND LEWIS

At home with Kitty Daisy and Lewis
Comments

AT HOME WITH KITTY DAISY AND LEWIS



Written by Isabel Palmer
05 Friday 05th September 2008

When we arrive at Kitty, Daisy and Lewis's house in north London, dad Graeme and their two dogs, a lurcher and a whippet, all greet us at the door. It feels like a rapturous welcome, but Kitty (15), Daisy (20) and Lewis (18) are all upstairs in their bedrooms. Graeme yells upstairs but no one answers. Lewis is in bed with food poisoning, Kitty is getting ready and Daisy has only just come back from the spice shop on Portobello Road where she works.

In the meantime Graeme, who also plays acoustic guitar in the band with mum Ingrid on double bass, shows us their home-made studio based on Memphis's legendary Sun Studios where Elvis and Johnny Cash began their careers - built from scratch where most people would have a dining room. They recorded each of the ten songs on their latest album (eight of which are covers of old rock-and-roll classics made famous by artists such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Johnny Horton and Muddy Waters) in one-take, in an attempt to capture some of the energy of their live performances. It works - sounds like they could be busking in your living room.

Daisy and Kitty

 

Entering the studio calls for expert Krypton Factor maneuvering over and around double basses, pianos, snare drums, and guitars to name a few of the instruments KD&L can turn their hands to, before we find space to stand and gawp at their giant 1950s recording equipment. There's a crackling 8-track tape recorder, a weighty collection of BBC and RCA microphones and a walnut mixing desk recycled from an old granny's wardrobe. The room is lit by a huge round dentist lamp, which "geeky" Lewis uses when fixing his 1950s record cutting machine bought from eBay.

Lewis's 1950s record cutting machine

Kitty comes downstairs first followed by elder sister Daisy, both perfectly bequiffed, with siren-red pouts. Daisy's ripped fishnets and six-inch killer heels make her look like a juvenile pin-up girl. Although they play a mixture of blues, r&b and swing, their live shows draw "all sorts".

"We don't really drag in the rockabilly scene," says Daisy. "Journalists always focus on our age and say we're a rockabilly band because we've got quiffs." Clearly a sore point for a band that has been called "muso-brats" and a "rockabilly version of Hanson" in the press.

This summer KD&L have been on the festival circuit playing hugely entertaining sets to large crowds. Now their sights are set on a tour of Australia and Japan next year when their self-titled album is released there. During a recent trip to SXSW in Austin, Texas, the whole family was almost arrested. "The police pulled us over for buying crack from a black man, but he was helping us shut the tour van's door - we didn't know we were on crack alley," says an innocent Kitty, who believes it shows how racist the cops are too. "We're never going back there again. You need ID to get into clubs - even dad got asked and he's bald".

When the Durham family moved into their Kentish Town home nine years ago, it was slightly dilapidated and they had to completely re-board the floors. Now the garden looks like a jungle, the kitchen actually has flies and their shabby flowery furniture looks like Aunty Wainwright's castoffs. But the house has an eclectic charm, much like the family themselves. Dad Graeme was born in Bombay and Lewis strums his sitar on the latest singleGoing up to the Country filmed partly at their home, local haunt Mario's Cafe and a nearby farm near Tunbridge Wells where they were cornered in a field by a herd of "scary" cows which made them shit themselves. Their Anglo-Norwegian Mum Ingrid used to play drums in post-punk outfit The Raincoats - "She was crap though," says Daisy. "She never taught us to drum, she just said: (putting on voice) "Oh I can't play anymore, I've lost it.'"

Daisy and Kitty

 

Lining the hallway are three pairs of mounted antlers mingled in with paintings of stags. "Mum loves deers," Kitty says slightly embarrassed, then averts our attention to the more heinous crime of Dad's new trainers - "They're ORANGE. He wears them on stage with a cowboy suit." Apparently he fell over when he tried to walk in cowboy boots.

Meanwhile proud dad Graeme is waxing lyrical about "in-demand producer" Lewis who has been working with Paloma Faith and Mr. Hudson in their home-studio. This was until he stopped to take his A-level exams - he has yet to collect his results. "It's pointless when he's already got his path in life," Graeme muses. From aged 13 Lewis started collecting thousands of 78s and 45s and equipment and started building the studio. He DJs 10" 78 rpm records (the standard until the late 1950s - made out of highly breakable shellac) and takes his own deck along - another homemade concoction. KD&L say the reason they signed to Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank's Sunday Best label was because they allowed the band to release a "proper" album - as in a book of five 10" 78rpm discs - the first to be released by a record company in 50 years.

School is not a priority for Kitty either. "My teachers are all shit," she says. "They call me Daisy all the time". Kitty is in the final year of her GCSE's and has decided not to do A-levels as she wants to see what happens with the band. When your fans include Mark Ronson this could be a wise move. Ronson has been emailing the band ever since they played a gig together in Liverpool. He even asked them to play at his birthday party. Kitty and Daisy have got no idea how old he is (he's 33) - "He's fit though," they giggle.

Daisy

What about the band's performance on Blue Peter? Even the mention of Konnie Huq's name causes the sisters to flash extreme dirty looks. Outspoken pint-sized Kitty takes a deep breath: "Basically, I was really pissed off because Konnie came into my RE lesson and they took pictures of me in the playground. It took two days to film and she acted as if they were making a documentary, right?" She pauses for dramatic effect. "Then they just replaced me with a tortoise."

"And their dogs are really nasty with fleas," chips in Daisy. "They sent out these crappy dancers while we were playing in the studio and we were like 'HANG ON', we're walking off if you don't stop this now."

We head off to the local pub with Kitty, Daisy, mum, dad and dogs too. Once Daisy accidently shut whippet Tikki's tail in the door - they keep the bit that fell off on a shelf in the living room. When we arrive Kitty and Daisy start bumming fags off mum and getting dad to buy them drinks - "It's better to do it in front of your parents," Kitty says while puffing on a Marlboro Red.

 

At 15 Kitty is the youngest but you could easily forget. She's got a swagger to rival Liam Gallagher and a mean smoky lead vocal. She speaks frankly about the music industry: "You can't make any money in a band, unless one of your songs features in an advert. I mean, what's happened to the Magic Numbers? You never hear of these bands ever again after they release one album."

Kitty

 

So is the future uncertain for KD&L? They are writing new songs together, but "just jokey ones". They've got a new song about chicken and one for the next album called The Ska Song until they think of a name. A family writing and recording at home sounds quite magical. "We just all get pissed and sit around the piano," they say. It's a scene warmly reminiscent of an olden-times family band knees up - but is this the novelty? The hillbilly meets juvenile delinquent 50s throwback image is not a throwaway gimmick and they are ridiculously talented musicians who have "just got it". But however prodigiously talented KD&L are, in a few years will they sadly be relegated to the rockabilly circuit? We hope not - there is something so refreshing about a young band playing old classics so let's just enjoy the onstage antics and have a listen.

For the Kitty, Daisy and Lewis MySpace page click here.

To see their latest video for 'Going up to the Country' on YouTube click here.

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at panic@dontpaniconline.com and we will respond asap.



Comments

MORE FROM DON'T PANIC