Girl's got talent.

Words by

Zoe Beer

Sugar Mountain hits Melbourne this weekend, and if you’re still finalising your day’s timetable, you’ll want to make sure Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith is on it.

It’s the American artist’s first visit Down Under and it will see her tick off Mofo Festival and NGV's Friday Nights, alongside her Sugar Mountain appearance.

Speaking to us while on tour in England, Kaitlyn detailed her writing process, what it's like to play a planetarium show and who she’s excited to see at Sugar Mountain.

Do you draw inspiration from the places you’re touring in?

Oh yeah, definitely. I love [being in a city and] not knowing the language. Just letting it wash over me as sounds, that’s very inspiring to me.

I always find it refreshing when I travel – when I go home I feel like I have lots to create from.

The Australian festivals you’re doing all combine art with music. Is that something that resonates with you and drew you to those events?

Yeah, I love joining all different mediums - visual arts, films, installations. I really want to start collaborating with dancers. Most recently, I’ve been having fun scoring silent films.

Is fashion a medium you’d ever consider collaborating with?

Yeah, I don’t exactly know what that would look like but I love costume design and I love extravagant things. I don’t necessarily wear that in my day-to-day but I think it’s incredible to see the work that goes into [fashion] design. I especially like to look at a lot of runway photographs. The scenes that are captured and the drama of it are just really incredible.

You played at a planetarium last year, how was that experience?

That was incredible – have you been to one before? Oh my gosh, I want to live in one. The first part just used my normal visuals in the dome and then, for the last part of my set, they put on the stars. I wish I could’ve seen more of it because I was distracted playing.

And then it was really neat, the next night I played in a cave in Austria. 

Were the visuals projected out onto the cave walls?

No, they had a screen. It was a very well put together cave (laughs).

It sounds like playing live and your recording processes are very different. Do you prefer one over the other?

No, they’re both so different that they feel very complementary. I feel like I wouldn’t choose one over the other, they both fuel my happiness in different ways and I approach them very differently. 

When you’re composing new music, is it very improvised or more structured?

I really don’t have a set format because for me, a lot of my joy in creativity comes out of wonderment and always being open to happy accidents and exploration. I try to never have a format and just kind of follow what feels good in the moment. 

You used a lot of woodwind instruments and vocals in EARS, is that something that you’re exploring more in the next album?

Yeah, that’s where I started with music – writing for orchestral instruments. I’m starting to incorporate the two worlds. In EARS, I really wanted to make it so that you couldn’t tell which was the synthesiser and which was the woodwind part. In the new album (that I’m working on now), it’s less like that. 

Anyone you’re excited to see at Sugar Mountain?

I like Jessy Lanza, I’m excited to see her. There’s a lot of people that I’m curious about but I’ve never heard. I’m just excited to see everybody.

Final release tickets to Sugar Mountain are still available. You can buy them here.


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