Kenny Bates is another of those vital DIY musicians that help thread together a number of different groups within Scottish music. Having known him for around 8 or 9 years now, he has always remained remarkably positive of Scotland’s music community. He has championed so much, but also almost downplayed his own talents. This is a man that just simply adores music and everything about it.
His latest moniker, Quitter might feel abrogating, but he is far from ready to call it a day. Having started The Death Collective, a Stirling community that houses like-minded people and songwriters, it has enabled him to create an honest platform for his and others music.
“Craig Ferrie (who performs as December ’91 had the idea of gathering together all the misfit sorta left-field/weirdo singer-songwriters that were kicking about Stirling at the time, to put on shows, record and collaborate. It’s since developed into a bit of a label and hopefully coming soon a monthly club night. I think he just felt, like a few of us did, that our music didn’t belong anywhere, didn’t fit in the ‘singer-songwriter’ or ‘folk’ or ‘indie’ brackets, and that we had something special going in a very specifically localised area.”, explains Bates.
Influences for his solo project range from Conor Oberst to American Football, artists that have in their own way, formed a dedicated cluster of Scottish DIY musicians within their fan base. Bates’ has particular memories surrounding the former, “I first listened to Conor Oberst via the album ‘Fevers and Mirrors’ by Bright Eyes, the day all my friends left for uni and I stayed at home. I had literally nothing to do and nowhere to go, so finally got round to putting it on and just walked around my hometown listening to it. The first song opens with a wee monologue from a kid reading a book about his friend next door leaving town. That was an intense and sad moment, v. emo, I was a wreck! But he’s my favourite lyricist, has that ability to nail an entire feeling, situation, problem, in a beautifully simple rhyming couplet. A guy called Hamza Khan in Ayr gave me it, as well as introducing me to Twin Peaks. He later disappeared forever out of the blue and no one has any idea where. V. David Lynch!”
His latest release and self-titled album is a remarkably poignant body of work. The kaleidoscopic melodies within the songs help drive his personal lyrics, their prosaic approach envelop an aching, yet stunning melancholic beauty that leaves you feeling unsettled – fascinatingly so. It’s songs like these that leave you thinking long after and scrambling to figure out what the writer and in this case, Bates means. His vocal is easy to fall in love with and there is a tremoring sincerity underpinning the whole record.
Like any notable album, this will stay with you, it will bury deep into your thoughts and feelings and will hopefully become a curious new friend to respect and love.
Quitter is out March 26th via The Death Collective