Photos: Carolina Faruolo / DIY
Champions of escapism don’t always make their music in pressured circumstances. Ernest Greene Washed Out wasn’t exactly begging to get out of Georgia or South Carolina when he started out. Cole from DIIV penned music for parties, not out of some effort to get out of New York - more as a means of getting more involved in the very scene. Kid Wave are different. For Lea Emmery, she had her heart set on being in a rock band, and she knew she couldn’t achieve this specific dream in a small Swedish town. So she moved to London, and two years to the good she’s about to release her first single as Kid Wave through esteemed label Heavenly Recordings.
There’s an urgency to first work ‘All I Want, which comes produced by Rory Attwell. Lea’s vocals glaze over a dreamy wall of melodic fuzz, but there’s a severe sense of purpose. “There’s a lot of good music coming from Sweden, but at the time it felt a bit dead,” she says. “I had friends playing in bands that I really loved, but no-one picked up on it. It was a brick wall. And I just wanted to move away, do something else.” Time spent training as a classical and jazz pianst didn’t suit her one bit (“I wanted to make rock music!”) so she packed her bags pronto.
Her first step was a move to the UK capital back in 2011. “I always knew that I wanted to move away. The UK has so much history, and for me it was quite natural,” she says. But she landed in a city where she knew no-one, had infinite time on her hands. “I was on my own for quite some time, coming home sitting in my room and doing nothing,” she remembers. “It was obviously a good time to write.”
A cursory Bandcamp upload gave the project some speedy attention, but by this point she didn’t have a band to play with. Eventually things came together. Guitarist Mattias Bhatt is an old friend, and Serra Petale taught drums at a music school where Lea was studying. Bassist Harry Deacon arrived slightly later down the line, with Lea stressing that it’s “so important for you to get the right band members, and we’re a really tight group of friends as well.” Bhatt seems like a vital glue to Emmery’s sunshine-soaked vocals - his guitar lines swerve past conventional structure. Shoegaze stalwarts are given a quick nod, but together, Kid Wave sound like a band intent on taking an established sound someplace else.
"“I always knew that I wanted to move away."
— Lea Emmery, Kid Wave
“I dream away a lot - I do alot of daydreaming,” admits Lea. “And that’s definitely something that comes through.” Kid Wave, she says, is always trying to “translate the vibe of wanting to go somewhere else.” Whether it’s itchy feet of a passport burning in the back pocket, everything they’ve released so far doesn’t just project escapism, it encourages those listening in to take a bold step of their own. Emmery definitely doesn’t have plans to settle down. “It’s tough in London, but having this vision really helps. My parents suggested I might be better doing something else - definitely not jazz piano though, they thought I was shit.”
Taken from the October issue of DIY, out now. Kid Wave's new 'Gloom' single is premiering on DIY, above. They play London Birthdays tonight, 6th October.