Electronic post-punk duo Kite Base discuss debut LP, ‘Latent Whispers’

Kite Base are a duo consisting of bassists Ayse Hassan and Kendra Frost

kite base interview

Photo by Garry Hensey

Kite Base is an electronic post-punk band consisting of bass guitarists Ayse Hassan (also of Savages) and Kendra Frost. The duo will release its debut full-length, Latent Whispers, on May 26. Watch the video for the Latent Whispers cut ‘Soothe’ below. The video is a showcase of the band’s propulsive, seductive sound and also of the visual identity that unites its origami-themed logo, art direction, and angular aesthetic.

The band received praise from Trent Reznor last year; Kite Base’s cover of the classic Nine Inch Nails song ‘Something I Can Never Have’ prompted Reznor to tweet a one-word approval: “Excellent.” We asked Kite Base about Nine Inch Nails, Latent Whispers and more in an email interview. Read Ayse and Kendra’s answers below.

Culture Creature: What interests you about origami as a symbol?

Ayse: Mostly what the symbol ‘Kite Base’ represents. It’s a simple starting fold in origami, which can be transformed into whatever you want it to be – you just need the desire and imagination to do so. I feel it’s always important to stay in touch with the wonders of our imagination – I romanticize that it’s one of the truest forms of freedom we have left, although I do wonder how our everyday lives impact/manipulate the thoughts and dreams we have.

Kite Base has a very strong visual presence that unites much of your work. Do either of you have backgrounds in art or design?

Kendra: Initially, I got into a lot of my favourite bands by being attracted to album art. I’d try to imagine the sound the images represented and found it fascinating when the visuals complimented the audio as they extended the experience, so I find it important to try to emulate the same. I have a BA (Hons) degree in photography from London College of Communication, Uni of the Arts London. Personally, those fine art methodologies fuel a lot of my creative ideas and decisions now. There is a real beauty to defining a process and I enjoy the problem-solving aspect of how to extend an aesthetic idea into associated platforms. It’s lovely to hear that comes across!

How did you two meet?

Ayse: We met over the mutual discovery that we both played bass and had a desire to approach music in a slightly different way than we were used to… which eventually turned into us being a duo, both playing bass.

What was the experience like the first time you wrote or jammed together as two bass guitarists?

Kendra: I can remember taking my bass and an iPad loaded up with GarageBand to Ayse’s house and thinking, I’ve absolutely no idea if this is even gonna work! I’d always been a massive fan of dance music, so had a head full of ideas regarding how to approach beat making – but I’d never programmed before. GarageBand seemed an accessible way to start. We played back a beat I’d made, jammed over the top of it and, happily, got something immediately. I think we kind of followed our gut as to what would work: if one played treble, the other played the low end; if one had a solid riff, the other played something more rhythmical perhaps… almost as if the basses were taking the place of a rhythm and lead guitar, or two leads.

What inspired your decision to cover Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Something I Can Never Have’?

Kendra: A repetitive sound appeared in my head one day and I couldn’t shake it off. It sounded a bit like the opening to Laurie Anderson’s ‘O Superman’, but there was another melody in the background that I couldn’t quite place. I eventually twigged that it was the opening piano riff of ‘Something I Can Never Have’ and called Ayse to describe the idea of covering the track with just two basses and vocal layers. We are both huge Nine Inch Nails fans, so the rest was a total joy to pen down – a chance to play a bunch of our favorite NIN riffs! Like the repeated theme from ‘The Fragile,’ which crept in later, two time signatures blending in together… it grew from there.

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