Enigmatic lo-fi master KIT HEPBURN has released his hazy new single left alone, an entirely self-produced track that draws upon ambient soundscapes and R&B elements, and feels particularly representative of the shutdown the world experienced in 2020 due to COVID-19. The dark, brooding song is accompanied by an appropriately moody video clip, made in collaboration with filmmaker Lucas Haynes. We caught up with Kit to learn more about him.
Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with Hear 2 Zen, what have you been up to today?
It’s lockdown part. 4 in Melbourne currently, so I’ve been mainly chilling in my Brunswick Apartment – I got up early and made some mean scrambled eggs, pumped some tunes in my living room, worked out, then burned some incense and recording some music. Not a bad day in all honesty.
Tell us about yourself, how long have you been performing/creating music for?
I’ve been performing and creating for most of my life in different forms to be honest – I started out acting and writing when I was in high school, at the same time I was teaching myself to produce and play piano. Basically doing all of that instead of my homework. Once I bounced out of school I was working as a music composer and acting, writing and touring stage shows. I’ve been releasing music as KIT HEPBURN since 2019, and after the release of left alone, I’ve been working on a nasty live set to start playing around everywhere I can (once we’re allowed outside again). I’ve also got an EP in the works which I’m really excited about. Watch this space!
Who are your greatest inspirations? Why?
I’m inspired by so many artists and styles, and get hooked on certain artists and sounds pretty frequently. However, If I had to name my two biggest influences overall, I’d say Radiohead; for opening my mind up to the possibilities of creating emotive, experimental and atmospheric music as a teenager, and Frank Ocean; for his ability to create intimate, beautiful and textured songs with lyrical storytelling that shares these traits.
How do you create music? Are you lyrics/story driven, or does the music/melody come first? Explain your process.
It’s a little different for every song, but I mainly focus on feeling first. I’ll start with the music, often chords and sounds first, to create atmosphere, which will be built based on the way I’m feeling on a given day. Once I have a vibe going, I’ll start ad libbing vocals, coming up with a hummed vocal melody that will eventually become a one or two line refrain that captures the feeling of the music, and serves as the thematic basis that the rest of the lyrics are built around. From that point, I play around and tweak endlessly. I like to get the instrumental made first, then listen to it and write down the lyrics in a notebook as they come to me. I like to work through the night on a song, with my aim, no matter how tired I am, to get a demo down by the time the sun comes up.
What has been your greatest challenge so far in performing/creating music?
I’ve always been a massive perfectionist with my music, and often discard songs when I feel like they’re not good enough. I’ve got like 200 demos floating around, and I often get stuck at certain points, or want to move onto something new. It’s taken me a long time to learn to stick with a song, and not endgame it or worry about small details in the creation stage – it’s important to finish the track, at least in demo form, and let the ideas and creativity flow without getting caught up in specifics.
Tell us about your new release, how did it come about?
So I was living in an old cottage in Regional Victoria during the big lockdown last year – I was living alone and basically spent all of my time recording music. I was feeling pretty stuck, as a lot of people were, with my plans to move to the city as well as tour being put on hold. I was also feeling pretty stuck romantically at the time, feeling a mix of heartache, loneliness and also a bit of a feeling of disconnection – definitely a lot of existential vibes floating around. I got into the habit of driving around late at night along the deserted streets of the city, listening to music with the windows down, just taking in that feeling. It was surreal. The song is a distillation of all of those feelings. I was listening to a lot of hip-hop and r&b production at the time as well, so those sounds and influences definitely came through on the track. I wrote, produced, mixed and mastered the track myself, always with the intention of creating a nocturnal, intimate and slightly left field track.
What advice do you have to artists who are just starting out?
Nike got it right. Just do it. Release music, play shows, take the leap. It took me the longest time to build the confidence to start sharing my music, but it’s honestly one of the most rewarding feelings there is. You can learn so much about yourself, and also make your life an exciting adventure. Get out there, collaborate and trust your intuition. Live your dream.
Tell us your favourite Zen practice.
Mediation. I was definitely skeptical, but it wasn’t until Covid hit and we were faced with extended lockdowns that I really began to start a practice of meditation and mindfulness. When things are out of control and hectic as they often can be in life, it’s an amazing feeling to be able to let go of all of those flitting thoughts, and bring yourself back to the present. The world is a beautiful place, and meditation and mindfulness helps you see that more clearly, as well as allow you to focus more on the important things.