With thick, distorted guitar, searing organ, thundering drums and a dash of Irish humour, the Orange Kyte is the vision of Dublin-raised, Vancouver based Stevie Moonboots. Balancing melody and noise, the Orange Kyte finished an ambitious recording schedule in 2016 that included a new single every month in 2016 that were recently released on Little Cloud Records. Speaking with A Love That’s Sound, Stevie Moonboots talks about his love of loud things, his recent loss of hearing in one ear, acquiring a smoking parrot and the never-ending need for expression.
DL: You previously played with the ‘60s garage band the Strange Things. What lead you to branch off to a new project?
Stevie Moonboots: I joined the Strange Things after I went deaf. It changed everything from there on in. I had only joined the Strange Things when I had already gone deaf in my left ear. Deafness was pivotal. Everything I do now, I can trace it back to the moment I went deaf.
It was a real battle because Kyle McQueen who plays guitar in that band, I was really struggling because I couldn’t hear myself play and I was playing by feeling. I was trusting that I was playing the right way because Kyle plays a loud jazz-master. I subsequently went out and bought a jazz-master.
It wasn’t meant to be, I was always supposed to do the same things together. Kyle is an excellent songwriter and his songs are the strange things sound. I started writing songs with him but they weren’t really jelling. He really encouraged me to do it, he wanted me to bring songs to the band but it never felt right.
I just decided to do a single a month thing, which was the Orange Kyte, It was supposed to be a recording project only. I had the Orange Kyte as a studio project and the Strange Things as my life and outlet. The moment I bought my 4-track, I decided to do a single a month. I never thought I’d play a show as the Orange Kyte.
DL: What were the circumstances of you going deaf? What was your relationship with music before that happened?
Stevie Moonboots: I woke up on the morning of 21st of December 2014 just deaf in my left ear due to an infection that replaced my hearing with ringing. At that point, I was making music in a very casual way but as soon as I realized that I lost my hearing and that I was never going to get it back, I realized my mortality and that everything is limited. The time that you put into this stuff… your hearing…. everything has its shelf-life. I am constantly inspired by things and I realized I wanted to constantly spit it out until I can’t do it anymore.
DL: When did you first conceive of the Single a Month project?
Stevie Moonboots: I don’t know where exactly it came from, I realized after the fact that some people did something similar. The Raveonettes did a single a month in the same year I did it. Roger McGuinn from the Byrds, he’s been doing a single a month every month since 1996. He’s done it every single month, it’s online. After the idea came up, discovering that people like him did it made me want to do a single a month forever. I was going to fire it out on online channels and see if people liked it. But then Kyle from Strange Things shared it the moment it became a single and it brought the whole thing into the open, it was unexpected.
DL: What’s the biggest difference between the music scene in Dublin versus Vancouver?
Stevie Moonboots: I dunno, it’s weird. The music scene in Vancouver, from an outsider point of view, it felt like it didn’t exist until I was involved. It was only when I got in that I was really introduced. When I first got to the city, it felt like there was no scene and it was very disheartening and I felt like I wanted to go back to Dublin. In Ireland, you’ll have someone who isn’t very talented but they will blow their own trumpet, there’s this swagger to someone who is semi-talented. In Vancouver, there’re people who are super talented and then don’t even want to show anyone their music. It’s almost a confidence thing or the lack of wanting to show off.
DL: Do you write your songs inside or outside?
Stevie Moonboots: Sometimes they come from outside. They are influenced with the sounds of outside. There have been times when I’ve wanted to record with field recordings from outside to replicate where the song was written, such as at the beach where I’ve done a lot of writing. From the singles last year, everyone was written outside to a certain degree. Back in Dublin, I wrote all of my songs inside.
DL: Dave is also from Dublin, did you know him back in Ireland?
Stevie Moonboots: Yeah we used to play shows together all of the time.
DL: Can you tell us how you came to be in contact with Terry the Parrot?
Stevie Moonboots: We were in Mat’s parent’s garage in Edmonton, up all night drinking and chain smoking. Dave said something and I thought it would be funny to “shhhh, look, we are being watched.” It wasn’t even a spoken thing, we integrated him into our routine and created a persona for him where he was our angry, smoking parrot manager. It’s developed more than we thought it would, Terry has a Facebook page.
DL: If you had to choose another Telescopes song to cover what would it be?
Stevie Moonboots: It would have been “Perfect Needle” ideally but I was late. We were the last band to select our song, “Please Tell Mother.” I wanted to do a straight up cover but the more I listened to it the more cheesy it sounded. I love that song but I couldn’t bring myself to do it in that way. We played a show with Ultimate Painting, and I woke up on Dave’s couch listening to BBC radio playing “Your introduction to psych” program, showing “See Emily Play” by Pink Floyd and “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane. I was humming those songs and the melody of the Telescopes song came into my head and I dropped it in and it became the song. The bass line was white rabbit and there was a bit of a Stooges influence.
DL: How has the band dynamic changed since adding a Saxophone?
Stevie Moonboots: We don’t practice together a whole lot but the dynamic has definitely changed. We definitely get more out of control on a partying level. Matty Reed is the reason. I’m definitely on the knife edge but if you bring Matty Reed into the equation, I’m gone. Musically, there’s also a shift because Matty is almost like a front man. He could be the focal point now, I love that, he takes the pressure off being the frontman and then he helps me party way too hard afterwards.
DL: What was the most effortless of all the songs you recorded?
Stevie Moonboots: “Melty Brain” that was well and truly effortless. We wrote it on Sunday, recorded it on Monday and released it on Friday. Well, it was effortless for me but not Matt, we recorded it at his studio after this gig we played at BC place for the Vancouver Whitecaps. We were drinking for something like 12 hours. We were very hung over.
DL: What artists at Desert Daze are you most honoured to be sharing a bill with?
Stevie Moonboots: Iggy Pop and Spiritualized. I grew up in Ireland, Spiritualized, I will be obsessed with them forever.
DL: Would you go back to the Single a Month schedule again?
Stevie Moonboots: I battle with this all of the time. I want to do it next year but I know we won’t. Albums are what get you leverage. The single a month worked because we didn’t have time to overthink it.
We slowed down a bit this year, now we are picking back up this year. It’s more exciting when we are continually releasing things but I want to do it on the album and EP level rather than just digitally.
DL: How would you comment on Levitation Vancouver and it’s legacy?
Stevie Moonboots: When I first moved to town, as a musician, I didn’t see the music scene. Once Levitation Vancouver happened, I started to hear about the music through the fans and the consumers. It opened a lot of doors in terms of what we do, especially with bands like Thee Magic Circle, Dopey’s Robe and Dead Ghosts… it feels like something has glued us together that didn’t exist before.
A Love That’s Sound
Interview: David Lacroix.
Photo: David Lacroix, Alex Lippert.
Artwork: Marie Ingouf.