KITTY, DAISY & LEWIS
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis are the young UK based sibling trio who are fast on the track to music superstardom. We first saw them perform a few years back at Mercury Lounge in New York City and were immediately mesmerized by their gifted talent. Onstage they rotate playing multiple instruments and create an infectious sound combining blues, R&B, swing and rock ‘n’ roll. All three musicians are dressed in great vintage style. And all three are especially blessed with good looks, starting with their signature dark hair and full lips. We caught up with the band in New York City while on tour to support the release of their third album on Sunday Best record label, “Kitty, Daisy & Lewis The Third.” Photography Alexander Thompson. http://www.kittydaisyandlewis.com/
PONYBOY: Kitty, please tell our readers your background.
KITTY: We grew up in Kentish Town, London with our parents, who have always been music lovers. Our dad comes from a big family in India, and when they were young they would all sing and play together. Our mum drummed in a post-punk band as a teenager and has a wide record collection of all different types of music. There were a few different instruments lying around the house when we were young that we would mess around with, and our dad would sing to us as kids. I asked for a drum kit for my sixth birthday and my dad brought his old kit down from the attic. And I started bashing away! The first gig came about around the same time.
PONYBOY: What was your upbringing like with musician parents?
KITTY: For me it felt normal, but I guess mainly because I didn’t know any different. There was always music in our house, whether it was dad playing guitar or mum playing records while she cooked dinner. They never really taught us to play. My dad showed me a few chords on the tenor banjo, but I more or less would just pick things up and work them out over the years. Big family jams were a lot of fun, especially when my dad’s family would get together. Everyone would grab something and join in.
PONYBOY: You’ve toured the world. What’s your favorite city to perform in?
KITTY: Berlin is a special place for me. It’s a wonderful city and I have a lot of friends there. Our gigs there are always really fun. But I love touring and seeing new places and getting to know the audiences. And, of course, I’m very much looking forward to coming back to New York City!
PONYBOY: Your father plays rhythm guitar in the band, and your mother plays upright bass. What’s that like, touring with them? You must be a very close-knit family.
KITTY: Because we’ve always played music together, both off and on stage, it’s not unusual for us all to tour together. Our mum never played bass, but we needed a bass player and asked her to learn. We are really close and we love touring together, regardless of all the arguing! Our parents never take part in interviews or photo shoots, as they like to stay in the background. But it wouldn’t be ‘K, D & L’ without them. And, of course, there’s our legendary trumpet player Tan Tan (Eddie Thornton). A lot of people don’t realize there’s actually six members of Kitty, Daisy & Lewis!
PONYBOY: Daisy, your mother, Ingrid Weiss, was a drummer in the all-girl seventies post-punk band, The Raincoats. Were you impressed with this when you were younger?
DAISY: When we were young my mum rarely talked about The Raincoats and we never even heard her drumming. I remember her getting the CD out once or twice and we would look at the pictures of her in the booklet. I remember laughing at the music with Lewis and Kitty, because it just sounded weird to us. Now we’re grown up and we see it much differently, of course. I think her drumming style is amazing and very different to a typical drummer. She played around with the rhythms a lot. Although I’ve never heard her play drums in real life, I’m sure I’ve caught the rhythm gene off of her. She plays very similar to me, moves her body with the bass a lot, and dances with it. That’s exactly how I play, whether it be piano or drums.
PONYBOY: How and when did the actual band known as Kitty, Daisy & Lewis form?
DAISY: We’d always been playing music together at home since before we can remember. Our dad used to sing and play his guitar and my mum played a lot of records. We were always jamming. Our parents started taking us to an afternoon live music thing in a pub in Camden called The Golden Lion. We went every Sunday. It was a great social event called “Come down and meet the folks.” You knew everyone there, and it was always packed with a lot of musicians. One night the promoter Big Steve asked Lewis if he would be up for getting up and playing a song or two on the banjo, so he did. Kitty decided to get up and play the drum kit as well. I didn’t get up with them this first time and so I felt left out. So, we performed again another time and I joined in on accordion. From then on, we started gaining interest with the people that went to The Golden Lion. One of them included Barry Stilwell, the fonder of Tapestry club/festival. He got us to play at his festival and didn’t know what to write on the poster because we didn’t have an official band name. So he just put it down as Kitty, Daisy & Lewis. We’ve stuck with that name ever since.
PONYBOY: We just love your most recent album release, “Kitty, Daisy & Lewis The Third.” Mick Jones from The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite produced this record. Tell us how this came about and what it was like working with a music legend. We read he’s an old family friend?
DAISY: Yeah, we already knew Mick Jones a little bit from various different connections. We actually played at a club night he put on years ago to support young acts. When we made the decision that we wanted to try and get a producer for the third album, we were all drunk in a bar in Italy somewhere and our tour manager Stew, suggested Mick. We all agreed instantly that he could be the right man for many reasons. One of the good points was that he is British. He understands the West Indian side of the music. It also helped that he was already a fan. So, at Notting Hill Carnival, Lewis asked him if he would be up for it, and he was very keen.
He came around to my mum’s house and we played him the new songs. He immediately loved them and was so positive about it. We then rehearsed with him for five months while the building work at the studio was being finished. He actually learned to play all the songs on guitar, just so that he knew them inside out. By the time we got in the studio, we were really confident with all the songs. He never told us to change anything musically. He just encouraged us and helped keep the room calm and positive. Things can often get heated in a band, especially being family. He also would buy us blueberries, because he said that they were good for the brain!
He believes that there is some kind of fate that brought us together. My mum was pregnant with me and her water broke while my dad was in the studio with Mick cutting a record for Big Audio Dynamite! My mum phoned my dad to tell him to come home. He said “Hang on. Let me just finish cutting the B-side.”
We were a bit skeptical about working with an outsider at first, as we have always done everything ourselves. But we’re so glad we got Mick to be part of the third album. He ended up being just like one of the family.
PONYBOY: We love the seventies inspired glam catsuits that both you and Kitty wear onstage. Your style has changed from the earlier fifties looks you used to wear. Tell us what brought about this change.
DAISY: Well, I guess we used to dress more fifties because of the people we were around, the music we were into, and also my mum had a lot of dresses and stuff. She’s always collected clothes. As a lot of time has past, we’ve grown a lot. We’ve discovered a lot more about music and fashion. The fifties style is great, but I just got bored with it after a while and lots of people started wearing it. A lot of people also started wearing the repro stuff, which I’m really not a fan of. My style has never been restricted to one thing, but at the moment I do love the seventies look. You know, over the knee boots, flares, nice shirts, lurex and a lot of glam. I think I like the more boyish side of it. My mum is also very good at finding good seventies clothes. And my boyfriend also loves it as well and he’s quite skinny so I can share clothes with him! Onstage I started wearing jumpsuits mainly because playing the drums in a dress is not ideal! I used to only play the snare, which meant I could sit side saddle with my legs closed and not reveal anything. But now I play the whole kit, so a dress is impossible really. Also, I like to move around when I’m singing and a tight wiggle dress restricts you to having to stand very ladylike.
PONYBOY: Lewis, we read that you built a home studio and that your music is never recorded digitally. Is this still the case?
LEWIS: Yes, our recordings have always been done in the analogue domain. We have just completed building a new studio for our last album. We changed our tape recorder to a 16 track, as opposed to an 8 track which we previously used. We also have a bigger live space to record in, compared to my mum’s tiny back room of our old studio. I make some of the equipment, like the mixing desk, microphones, etc. None of this is because we don’t like digital or are trying to be authentic, it’s just the way we prefer to work. We love the fuller, cleaner sound of the equipment we use.
PONYBOY: Lewis, we love your clothing, with the three-piece pinstripe suits and ascots. It’s very elegant forties/fifties menswear, our favorite two decades for gentleman’s dressing. Where do you find most of your clothing? Is it primarily vintage?
LEWIS: Most of my stage-wear came from vintage clothing shops I used to go to when I was a teenager. There used to be a lot of places in Camden market, near where I live, but they are all gone now. I don’t usually buy much anymore, except if I go on tour and stumble across something. If I do find a suit I like, I buy it, because it’s very hard to find suits that you really love. The main things I like are the fabrics, materials and the shapes. I like a lot of sixties and seventies stuff, too. It just depends on the mood! It doesn’t matter to me if something is old or new. If I like it, then I’ll wear it!
PONYBOY: What’s in store for the band, more touring and recording? Do you ever tire of touring?
LEWIS: At the moment we have just finished a European, American and Japanese tour, which was great. So we are just touring our new record basically. It’s now coming up to festival season, so we will be hitting all the festivals. I hope to get back into the studio soon and lay some more stuff down. But, we are so busy doing shows, I’m not yet sure when that will happen. I don’t get tired of touring, but I do look forward to coming home and doing other things that I enjoy without everyone else around me, who I’ve been cooped up with for past two months! It is great fun on the road though!
PONYBOY: We’re very excited as we just read that you’ll be back to New York City on September 2nd to play the SummerStage in Central Park. That’s quite impressive! We look forward to seeing Kitty, Daisy & Lewis once again.
LEWIS: Yes, some friends of ours will be playing, too. They are in a band called Lake Street Dive. We love New York and can’t wait to come back!