Kin Cayo - Blake Hanley / by E

Catch an interview with Kin Cayo's lead singer/guitarist Blake Hanley, grab "Our Ship" from iTunes, and check out all the sites below to keep up with the band. 

How did growing up in South Florida help to shape your sound?

Blake Hanley: I think that's the biggest part of our sound. South Florida is such an amalgam of many sounds; there's the Caribbean and you have Colombians and Cubans, especially in Miami, Haitians and Bahamians, and that had a huge shaping in my musical taste, growing up; it was just so eclectic. South Florida's built by people coming down from the Northeast and snow birds and New Yorkers and so I think that kind of mixture between those two worlds definitely has an impact on the music.

What words would you use to describe your sound?

I usually experiment with a couple of different ones but one that usually goes over pretty well is 'tropical post punk'.

This started as your project, so how did the band come together?

Just friends of friends really, and it kind of came together, just, I had an idea and I had some songs that I had already kind of completed and I had a friend who was a guitarist and I asked him if he wanted to be in a band and he had another friend that he thought would be a good drummer for this project so it just kind of happened that way, organically, and it turned out to just work really well, like, the drummer's from Bolivia and so he just has an innate understanding of the rhythms. It kind of just came together through friends.

What type of artists influence your sound?

I think one of my biggest influences has always been The Clash, both musically and in terms of their message, as a kind of global thing. They kind of, at least to me as a kid, I thought they were really cool, not only because of their music, but because they seem to stand for something. They were speaking up for the most vulnerable, they were speaking to be a voice for the voiceless, so that really attracted me and I always thought if I was in a band, I'd be in a band like that.

Is that what you keep in mind while writing?

When I think like that and I think from a big, general point of view, it actually doesn't help writing. I think, for me, when I write, I try to focus on details. It's more of an inside out process than outside in and so I usually try to focus on a story and little details, not even a story, maybe just there's one thing I see and that seems like a good song title or a good description of something and I kind of work out from there, but anytime I try to be like, 'oh, I want to put this message in a song,' it never turns out well. It just seems not authentic so I think, what I’ve learned is to start from a very small place, and hopefully, what’s kind of just in you comes out, rather than trying to force it.

You just finished your residency in Echo Park, what was your best experience or would you recommend it for other up and coming bands?

Oh yeah, friends of mine have a band called Party Nails - they're really good, kind of pop music - but they're playing there right now, doing their residency, and I just went and played an acoustic set before one of their shows and I was telling them that it's such a great place just to use as a live laboratory and experiment and figure out what you're doing. For us, we played there nine weeks straight and every week we just got a little better, every week we learn something new or try something new or got a new piece of equipment because that's what was necessary to produce the sound we were trying to produce so it was great for us. I would highly recommend it.

I think that the most memorable moment - there's no crazy story - was just when you see a crowd start responding to your songs and singing along and that happened usually around the last couple of songs we played, like "Our Ship". To see that happen, it was exhilarating, even if it was on a small level, where you know there's only so many people but you could feel it and in that room you're really close to people, so that was the most memorable moment.

Is "Our Ship" indicative of the sound we can expect to hear on the EP?

Yeah, "Our Ship" embodies, from the music to the message, it embodies a lot of what the band is about and that was one of the primary reasons we decided to release it first; not because we maybe thought it would be the most popular song or the most accessible song, but because we thought it contained the essence of what we were trying to convey.

Is there a song on there you think will be the most popular?

I don't know, you know, we're recording a lot and we have many more songs recorded than the EP has on it and will have on it, so I never know. I mean, all the songs have their own thing. I can usually tell when one will be maybe more popular but, at the same time, I've been wrong about that too.

How would you describe the EP?

I mean, I would describe it as, just in terms of sound, I would say, it's kind of this indie post punk with this kind of South Floridian/Caribbean influence, but it's got a moodiness to it. I would say, it's just kind of this mixture between dark and light; that's kind of, I think, the essence of the songs that I really like, similar to what you hear in African American Spirituals, where they're joyful but they're also sad at the same time. There's this hope amidst the darkness element to them and that always was what I thought made the best songs and was something I strived for in my own song writing and for the band. In terms of the message, I think that there's a lot of that in the EP.

Is there a track you can't stop listening to right now?

Probably, the latest track that I have on repeat a lot is the song "Glory" by John Legend and Common; after I saw the movie Selma I was listening to that a lot. Besides that, another artist that I really like a lot is this artist from Argentina called Chancha Via Circuito.

What do you want listeners to know about your music?

I mean, I guess it depends on the song. I think it kind of goes back to what I said before, what i think the EP is about. A lot of the songs are about a light at the end of the tunnel or, like, only in darkness can you see the light. There's kind of that feeling and that's what "Our Ship" has and that's why we released it first. It's this kind of realness that, yeah, things might be bad right now, but there's hope; hope's on the way, that there is a light. I think that's kind of what I find the most interesting. 

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