In late 2009, Donal Dineen, that ever omniscient divining rod of discovering and supporting new Irish talent, brought several new acts to the hushed surroundings of St John’s Church.
As the former Today FM DJ’s eclectic tastes are almost always on the money, the bill was a good one, but a waifish, ever so slightly ethereal Katie Kim - real name Katie Sullivan - completely stole the show, wowing those lucky few present that night.
Kim’s murky, ambient yet visceral music filled the church, a heady mix of chilling loops, atmospheric melodies, fuzzy guitars and warm samples cut like glass by her vocals, evocative of Joanna Newsom or Cat Power. Truly this was a sight to behold.
Kim is rightly included on the bill for the 2012 Certain Three tour, calling to Bourke’s next week, along with the equally highly rated The Lost Brothers and Puzzle Muteson. Previous tours in bleak January months have seen O Emperor and the Ambience Affair brought starkly to our attention by the Word of Mouth presented tour. Put simply, it’s a special tour, in the wasteland of an otherwise desolate month for live music.
Kim is a fan of the tour, which aims to present acts that have “created a significant stir during 2011”.
“I was keen to do it,” says Katie. “I am good friends with Peter who has booked it the last couple of years and I have seen the tours he has done previously, he does it really tastefully and picks a nice combination of artist as well, each act is not completely foreign to each other, but they do have something different. It is really good and I am looking forward to it.”
Kim is something of a quicksilver act, hard to quantify, to nail down, intentionally so, one feels. Her debut record, 2008’s Twelve was wonderfully murky and atmospheric, slow burning yet equally elegant. Kim eschewed the modern route, solely releasing on vinyl because of its rich sound.
“I do think it is far superior to anything else, CD especially,” she explains.
“It is just warmer. And the music I make, I don’t try and make anything shiny, production wise it just comes out sounding a little bit murkier than your usual, perfectly formed, mastered songs out of the studio. I think that vinyl really complements that and personally I have really given up on CD because it gets scratched so easily and flung around and it is just so disposable. I just think when you buy vinyl you have the whole package, the art work is there and you can appreciate it that people have put so much effort into it. It is a labour of love,” she adds.
It has taken her some time to record and release a follow-up record, but it is about to be released this month on double vinyl. Katie took some time off from playing live to record it, burrowing away and collecting scraps of songs to form the much anticipated follow-up, which will be called Cover & Flood and consists of a whopping 20 songs.
“Since Twelve, I just sat down and kept recording and it all just ended up as an album, even if I never thought it all would end up on a specific record,” she explains.
“I kept recording and in the end when I decided I really should release something and stop messing around, all of these songs I had recorded belonged together and I couldn’t separate them. So it was just right really to lump them into a double vinyl. It is bits and pieces and there are some fully formed songs and some that aren’t and some that interloop into others.”
While she will be accompanied by a band on some of the dates on the tour, Kim will perform solo when she comes to Limerick - and it promises to be something special, take it from us. She is equally comfortable with band or without, she says.
“I use the loop station quite a bit when I am on my own, it is mostly about layers and vocals and me and the guitar,” explains Katie.
“It is quite different to the full band show - it takes on a different form with the full band, but I enjoy them both exactly the same. It will be me, the guitar, the loop station and I will be trying to add as much extra as I can really when I’m on my own.”
Bourke’s is still finding its feet on the live circuit, but the venue’s smaller stature promises to lend an exciting air of intimacy that Katie is relishing.
“I do prefer to play interesting places, different places. Peter understood that when he booked the tour and tried to book artistic spaces, more intimate venues than normal, which is hugely important to me. I am really looking forward to it, I haven’t played in Limerick in a few years, so I can’t wait.”
Katie Kim plays the Certain Three tour in Bourke’s Bar, Catherine Street, on January 19 at 9pm.