This past year has been a good one for Bristol-based producer Kayla Painter. Having finally escaped a restrictive publishing deal that stopped her debut album ever seeing the light of day, in October it was announced that Kayla Painter was one of 10 musicians selected for Gilles Peterson’s 2017-2018 Future Bubblers programme. A collaboration between Gilles’ Brownswood Recordings and Arts Council England, the artist development scheme saw Kayla taken under the wing of industry expert Mita Dee (Floating Points, CHVCHES, Moby and Gotye) and extended Brownswood family.
Since she began working with Brownswood, we’ve so far heard her brilliant single In the Witch Elm, released in March. Now she follows it up with her latest single, which presents a whole new side to her experimental production. Due for official release on 20 July, Nitelife is honoured to premier Kayla Painter’s new single Keep Under Wraps.
Keep Under Wraps sees her take a step away from the left-field, ambient electronica she is known for, into the uncertain terrain of dancefloor music
While historically, each of Kayla’s projects differ pretty significantly from one another, her latest single Keep Under Wraps sees her take a step away from the left-field, ambient electronica she is known for, into the uncertain terrain of dancefloor music.
‘Keep Under Wraps is about keeping things secret,’ she explains. ‘As a musician, I find that people you work with quite often want you to keep your stuff behind – “keep it back, keep it back”, “don’t release it for a while”, “let’s wait” – a lot of that. So the track, for me, is about that feeling and the feeling of when you finally get to release something, that’s what the energy in it is about.’
Although this new sound from Kayla Painter comes in line with her work with Brownswood Recordings, anyone who suspects that the experimental producer is being pushed in a more marketable direction by the label would be wrong.
‘Anyone that’s listened to my back catalogue probably knows that there isn’t really one direction that I’m going in. I think people will still be able to hear my style in the track, even though it is more dancefloor.
people will still be able to hear my style in the track, even though it is more dancefloor
‘I’ve never been able to write formulaic dance music. Even when I tried to make something that is structured or 4×4 grid music, I really struggled. So it was a real challenge to make and something I wanted to see if I could do. I thought it was an interesting project off the back of In the Witch Elm, because it is a different angle entirely and it’s something I’ve never done. And I really enjoyed it.’
The most distinguishing element of Kayla’s music is the unusual ways she pieces together her music, often building around one sound or sensation to create other-worldly, multi-layered soundscapes that sound strangely familiar yet altogether new. One of the ways she achieves this is her seamless use of field recordings. One of those sounds in the new track, she tells us, is dry pasta in a cereal bowl.
‘It’s quite cool using it in a dance music context,’ says says. ‘I like knowing that no one will ever have that exact sound.’
I like knowing that no one will ever have that exact sound
Alongside the single release, her year in the Future Bubblers programme is culminating with a industry-attended gig at London’s Pickle Factory and a live recording of one of her tracks in the Brownswood Basement sessions (recent sessions come from the likes of Kokoroko and Peter Zummo).
‘Future Bubblers has opened some doors for me that are difficult for people to get through if you don’t have management or PR, so that’s been amazing. They quite literally are these people who are just hanging out in Brownswood and are happy to give you feedback. For example, one of the guys that works with them is in a band who are signed to Hyperdub and he was really interested in what I was doing and he’s been giving me some really useful feedback on my tracks. Stuff like that has been amazing and has enabled me to go a bit further than I would normally in terms of my reach of things.’
While the Future Bubblers mentorship might be coming to an end, it feels like Kayla is riding a wave of momentum, with the weight of people like Brownswood behind her, as well as longtime supporters like Mary Anne Hobbes who has planned plays on her BBC Radio 6 show. We can look forward to more new music from Kayla later this year in the form of an EP, as well as her first headline UK tour.
‘I’m really interested in doing more tracks like Keep Under Wraps and they’ll probably be in the form of singles, because I really enjoyed writing that and I’m not ready to put that down yet, but I do have an EP coming out later this year that is much more In the Witch Elm style.
this feels like a push back at all of those things that have slowed me down in the past
‘It’s nice to feel like I’ve got more of a plan now, because before I was just trying to get out of that restrictive deal. Because my debut album never came out and since then I’ve only released my DIY EP on tape, this feels different to me. Some of the tracks are reworks of tracks that were on the album and some of them are new, so this feels like a push back at all of those things that have slowed me down in the past. I feel really good about it because I’ve wanted to put some of these ideas out for a long time.’
Listen to the premier of Kayla Painter’s new single Keep Under Wraps, available from 20 July via Kayla Painter’s bandcamp page.
Photos by Sarah Koury for Nitelife