This is the Kit + The Sarah Johns Music Party
Adelphi30 – a special night celebrating 30 years of The New Adelphi Club.
With special guests This Is The Kit + The Sarah Johns Music Party. Doors 8.00pm.
This is the Kit
“Absolutely gorgeous, like an aural bath with the warm water lapping over you” Cerys Matthews, BBC 6music
This Is The Kit is the much beloved musical project of Kate Stables, born in England and based in Paris, though the heart of their musical community remains in Bristol, UK. Kate sings, plays guitar, banjo, trumpet and percussion, while a cast of carefully hand-plucked friends deliver guitar strums, banjo plucks, hushed horns and electronic textures that sit beneath Stables’ easy, earnest lilt. Her long time collaborator and regular live companion Jesse Vernon produced the album and contributes guitars, percussion, violin and percussion. While on tour, This is the Kit is a shape shifting entity ranging from a female duo with friend Rozi Plain to a psychedelia tinged five electric five-piece.
“The aim is to have fun playing with people whose work I really like,” says Kate in her simple and direct fashion. “The more you exchange and share with people the better things get and the more you learn.” This is the Kit has or will be opening for artists such as Jose Gonzales, Jeffrey Lewis, The National, Alexi Murdoch, Iron & Wine and Jolie Holland, and was recently selected by Sharon Van Etten as her “Favourite New Artist” in an interview with Pitchfork.
The Sarah Johns Music Party
For Dalston artist Sarah Johns, every day is a music party. A slicked-back electro-pop princess, free-spirited party promoter and sometime choral prodigy, Johns’ musical talents inhabit a variety of disparate incarnations and she is a shining example of a fully-fledged DIY creative, one with personal ambition as well as an inherent sense of community.
Johns’ vocal dexterity stands her in good stead at weddings and other similarly formal events, where she enjoys occasional bouts of lucrative employment. But she is a burgeoning popstar in her own right, acting as one half of sultry electronic duo Mr Beasley (formed during her time in Hull) and also as the frontwoman for Cool Fun (also formed in Hull) – a studio based project with friend Max Jung, which is showcased through award-winning film makers Prano Bailey-Bond and Jay Moy. As a singer, she teases out her notes in a stream of falsetto, infantile murmurings, soundtracked by Bobby Beasley’s sophisticated laptop orchestrations in the case of the former. Mr Beasley’s ‘Right As Rain’ featured as BBC 6’s Record of the Week and the duo have already attracted the attention of Swedish starlet Robyn, with whom they recently toured Europe.
Quite distinct from this is Johns’ work with the eponymously titled Sarah Johns Music Party – a band and night she set up two years ago with her Music Party cohorts. It hosts everything from acoustic singer-songwriters to avant-garde choreography. “The night was born out of a reaction against the lengthy electro acoustic gigs that I was getting booked for,” says Johns. “These nights can make it quite hard for the performers and the audience as even if the acts are amazing, by the time you’ve sat through two hours of singer-songwriters you’ve lost patience and find yourself wanting to chat. We stage contemporary dance, performance art and spoken word, but with an emphasis on live music.”
Johns extols the virtues of inclusivity and brevity within the realm of live performance. “All of the acts are no longer than fifteen minutes and have about fifteen minutes between them so it feels more like a party with entertainment as opposed to a line of musicians waiting for their go,” she explains. “The acts contrast and complement each other instead of competing with each other.”
An ex-drama student with a background in performance art, Sarah Johns bridges the gap between theatres and gig venues, offering a liberal platform for experimentation. “I have had a residency at Battersea Arts Centre, where I basically learnt to act my songs out,” she says, on her performative approach. “I wanted to create the right atmosphere to perform these songs outside of a theatre. All of the acts are staged in the most theatrical way possible to make it more engaging for the audience. The more daring you are the more you’re trusting the audience and the more connected the audience and performer feel.” Although Johns usually holds her Music Party at the clandestine Dalston Boys’ Club, to mark the coming of spring she assembled a makeshift stage – complete with drum kit, mic and guitar – underneath a shady tree in London Fields and invited park goers to participate in a day of improvised music making. With a vociferous Pistols fan leading the way, the result was an intimate gathering of like-minded people, which set a precedent for future guerrilla gigs.
Johns herself favours low-key, unplugged nights. “The fact that there’s no amplification at these gigs makes for a much more communal atmosphere as it’s all too easy for the performer to make a division between themselves and the audience by hiding behind a big loud noise,” she comments. “I personally find it far more daunting singing without a mic. I want to create something hypnotic and all encompassing.”