Chatting With Josh Bentley From The Paper Kites

-By Luke Keatinge


“Aussie dream-folksters, The Paper Kites have today delivered their most aesthetically pleasing video yet for their hazy heartwarmer, Renegade, directed by the renowned Dan Huiting (Bon Iver). To celebrate the clip, and the success of their critically acclaimed LP, twelvefour, the band have also announced their Midnight national tour, kicking off at Enmore Theatre in Sydney on June 23, moving through Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and wrapping in Adelaide at the Norwood Town Hall on July 2.”

Colosoul got to chat to Josh Bentley and here is what he had to say about the creativity behind twelvefour, the concept behind the Renegade music video and what is in store for the up and coming Midnight Australian tour.

The concept behind twelvefour was about how the hours of 12-4am can be the time where the most creativity flows, and all the songs were written by Sam between these hours. Can you talk a little bit about this and how it came about?

Yeah this was a concept that came about after Sam had a conversation with a friend. This intrigued Sam and he decided he would try his hand at writing songs from the hours of 12-4am. The concept is based on a theory that those hours are the most creative. People often do uni assignments, write novels and even songs in the wee hours of the morning. Writing in early hours of the morning also meant that Sam would sometimes write in a ‘delirious state’ which meant he would write a whole bunch of different stuff, his creative juices had no limitations.

How taxing was it for Sam to change his body clock like this?

As you’d imagine he had to change his body clock so it took some time for him to adjust but I guess that was kind of the beauty of it. He wanted to have no restrictions and write and record anything that came out in his sleep-deprived state. I should mention he didn’t have a job at the time so he slept away most of the day.

Did [Sam] find the creative energy you were looking for right away? Did it take some time?

The songs came out in a very random fashion. Sometimes Sam would write three songs in one night and other nights he would just sit and not come up with anything. It did take some time for him to settle into a routine and get the ball rolling.

I think it’s pretty rare to see a modern album of such a high concept, was this the first time you’ve gone about writing your music with any big concept underlining it?

Yeah this was the first time we decided to attach a concept to one of our albums, our other album and EPs were written in a more “mundane” way.

How was the recording process in Seattle? Was this the first time you’ve recorded abroad?

The recording process in Seattle was great! We decided to work with renowned producer Phil Ek and with that decision came the opportunity to work at his preferred studio in Seattle. The whole process was incredible, Phil was like the father figure in the studio and encouraged us to push the boundaries when recording the album. We got to experiment with lots of different sounds and techniques. We spent three weeks in the studio at Avast with the band tracking instruments and then Christina and Sam moved to a smaller studio to record vocals.

In comparison to States, I found the sound of twelvefour was, for the most part, a lot bigger and louder as well as more upbeat on a lot of songs. Is this something you intended, or was it just a natural progression of you guys as a band?

Yeah this wasn’t necessarily an aim or at the forefront when recording album two but we definitely wanted the new stuff to sound different and bigger. Phil Ek (Producer) also assisted in the ‘bigger’ sound when mixing it and putting the final touches on songs.

You guys are known for having such a large array of instruments, and bringing in more and more over the years. Did you bring in any new instruments for this album that you hadn’t recorded with before?

We didn’t bring in anything too obscure this time. We wanted to experiment with a lot of 80’s washed guitar tones and bigger drum sounds so we were lucky enough to get our hands on some pretty sweet instruments while over in Seattle. We used some cool drum machine sounds too which has been mixed in.

What was the vision/concept behind this new video for Renegade?

There was no big idea or concept for this one. We got chatting in the tour van while overseas and Dave I think came up with an idea involving kids breaking into a pool and mucking around. We were thrilled with how it came out. We worked with Dan Huiting and his team again (same people who did Revelator Eyes). We gave Dan a story board to work with and he did the rest.

The clip for Renegade is stunning, and I find all your videos have this real cinematic quality to them. What’s the process of making your videos [and specifically Renegade] like creatively and practically? Are you guys closely involved in them?

Yeah we take pride in all our music videos. We do have creative control over every video we put out which I think is a great thing. What normally happens is that we come up with a concept that we think will work for the particular song and then we approach a team who can make it come to life.

Renegade and Revelator Eyes were both filmed in the US by Dan Huiting and his team. On both occasions we have sent Dan a storyline and concept for each song and we work shop it over email from there. Dan has been great to work with, he has a great can do attitude and really took hold of our ideas.

I’ve found with the music videos from the new album like Renegade, but more so in Electric Indigo and Revelator Eyes, there’s a real 80s aura and nostalgia about them, in the colours, clothing and atmosphere. And in many ways this is also felt in the music. Was this the intention? Could you talk a little bit about the era or feelings that inspired these songs?

Yeah that has definitely been the intention. We wanted to create a late night feel for all our songs which have come from twelvefour, to fit in with the vibe.

You guys have such a unique sound, clearly inspired by folk music but mixed with so many different genres and styles (like electric guitars and synths). At least to me, this is what separates you guys from just being another ‘folk band’. Do you see yourself as a product of any particular genres or sounds?

To be honest no. We don’t really fit into a specific genre, not by choice that’s kind of the way its happened. We just write songs we love to play, we have heaps of different influences all the way from The Beatles to Prince and that comes from having five members in the band with very different musical tastes too. We are often changing our ‘sound’ and a good example of that would be if you listened to our first EP Woodland and then listen to our recent release twelvefour.

I think the past few years have been such an amazing time for Australian music, especially indie music. How does it feel to be part of this particular time of so much great Aussie music?

Yeah I agree, Aussie music at the moment is awesome. Don’t get me wrong though there have been many amazing artists and songs prior to this era but the different styles, popularity and recognition Aussies are getting internationally from their music at the moment is phenomenal. Playing a small role in the Aus music scene is great, it’s nice to be apart of it all.

And you guys specifically are making music that isn’t really being made by other Australian bands in this way. How does it feel to be filling this spot as the ‘modern Australian folky indie-rock band’, or do you not really perceive it this way?

Haha I like the ‘modern Australian folky indie-rock band’. Yeah we have a lot of people come up to us and tell us a similar thing. I’ts nice to be doing something a bit different. Often at times it can feel like we just get over looked or boxed into the ‘folky’ genre but I agree with your above comment in that we are doing something a bit different and it’s nice to get a small amount of recognition for that.

You’ve guys have been touring quite a lot overseas, particularly in Canada and the US. How have the shows been over there, and is there any notable difference between foreign audiences and Australian audiences?

The US and Canadian shows-in fact all our overseas shows have been great. We have been really well perceived overseas which has come as a bit of a surprise for a Melbourne band such as ourselves. We often find that our international shows are met with a bit more enthusiasm or excitement mostly because they don’t get the chance to see us as regularly as an Australian audience.

the paper kites3

Where has been your favourite place to play overseas? And venues or specific shows that really standout?

I really loved our first European tour we ventured out on earlier this year. We got to play in some really sweet venues and play in a different country almost every night, which is quite bizarre. My favourite venue to play at on the European tour would’ve had to have been the Paradiso in Amsterdam. The Paradiso is beautiful converted church building which sits on one of the water channels in Amsterdam. Many great bands have frequented the venue and it was a privilege to be able to play there.

What’s it like when you come home and play a show in Melbourne after so many international shows?

Our Melbourne shows are always special. A lot of nervous energy generally flows when we play a show at our home town, that’s normally due to the fact that we know half the people in the audience. But it is a very special thing playing in front of a home crowd especially after being abroad for months at a time.

Your upcoming Australian tour ‘Midnight’ has been described as “an immersive theatre experience that journeys through the midnight hours”. Are you guys trying anything new with this tour, and what can we expect to see?

Yeah we are trying out some very cool things on this next tour in June. An immersive theatre experience is hopefully what punters get out of the show. This will still be a typical Paper Kites kind of show but with a lot of cool twists. I don’t want to give away too much but there will be darkness, there will be acting, and of course there will be music.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions, thank you for making such beautiful music and all the best for your upcoming Aus tour!



supported by I Know Leopard and Luke Thompson


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Photo Credit: The Paper Kites

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