Interview/Music: Kit Sebastian

Kit Sebastian is the captivating duo project of Kit Martin and Merve Erdem.

On their second album Melodi, due out on 1st October via Mr Bongo, the pair weave a psychedelic tapestry of global influences, vintage synths, and melancholic élan from Bahia to Istanbul and Paris.

The psychedelic jazz sound that the duo introduced to the world on their debut album Mantra Moderne in 2019 is reimagined in Melodi, which is awash in references from dusty records and world cinema.

“In our first album we laid out our artistic manifesto,” the duo explain. “Working within that, we expanded our language and concepts and transposed them into something larger and more contemplative in our second album.

Elegy For Love, the latest glimpse from the LP, is some of the pair’s most harmonically beautiful work. Lyrics about love are backed by plaintive guitars and trumpets to create a lush and elegiac sound.

With their new album dropping next month, we get acquainted with the dreamy new track and talk to Kit and Merve to learn more about the record before it arrives.

What led to your connection, and how did it lead to the development of your sound?

M: We met through a Facebook group for Turkish people in London. K was looking for someone to work with, and I just moved to London at the time. After replying to his post, we chatted about music and cinema and discovered our approach was very similar. Shortly after, we started to write and record our first tracks. Our sound developed effortlessly through constant experimentation and artistic curiosity.

From a sound perspective, how does Melodi differ from your debut release?

We feel it has a more mature and diverse approach. The blueprint of production and compositional techniques had been laid down in ‘Mantra Moderne’, so ‘Melodi’ is both a refinement and an extension of this sound. The instrumentation is richer due to acquiring more instruments, like a harpsichord and the dilruba, and using session musicians (trumpet and viola), resulting in a more varied sound. Melodi visits the lives and stories of different characters: hesitant lovers, soulful insomniacs, naive romantics, nihilists, the reckless, the politically conscious, the economically disadvantaged who want their way into the system etc. So, it revolves around different spheres of life and human emotions. Even though most of the tracks are united by a dark and melancholic tinged style of lyric writing, they also employ a certain sense of humour and joie de vivre.

In what ways has your musical partnership evolved over the past few years?

It’s become a bit like a well-oiled powerhouse. We both love working hard and are very dedicated – when we’re in the studio or shooting, the world stops. We spend so much time and energy on each aspect of our music and aesthetics, and, most of the time, we have to work with many limitations, which requires an extra level of creativity and motivation. As two people who come from very different backgrounds, we always leave some space for artistic negotiation and execution. Over time, we cultivated our own language and techniques to make it work as a duo. Besides, producing music and visual content during the difficult times we’ve all had has not been easy, so we can only imagine the post covid future to be more artistically profitable.

Is there a particular track on the album that you enjoy the most?

K: I personally enjoy Ahenk the most as it’s the easiest to get lost in; it presents a mystery but also a frankness of emotion, and both a folkiness and a modernity to it.

M: The one I enjoy the most keeps changing, but it is Affet Beni at the moment. I like where it sits in the album and the playfulness it brings to it.

Different genres make up your music. Do you find it challenging to balance the varying components in your music?

K: It’s often accidental and not thought out what styles end up in our music. It’s very easy through a flick of a switch on a synthesizer or a guitar amplifier for the track’s context to suddenly change, and it to enter into a completely different genre, so it’s something we don’t like to think about.

Your music seems to be a good match for the fiercely independent record label Mr Bongo. How did you come into contact with them?

As Mr Bongo is also a record store who deals with lots of labels, we emailed them asking for advice on what we should do with our first record. We had just finished it and were in a strange time of blindly working in the dark, producing music and visual content, without knowing what would happen to it. They replied, and we were off to Brighton to sign a contract shortly after.

Big thanks to the Kit and Merve! If you want to stay updated on the latest from Kit Sebastian, give them a follow on Facebook or their website.

Pre-order ‘Melodi’ here.

CF Smith

Write for Music Is My Sanctuary & Stereofox.

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