Following the release of three singles spanning back to last December, alt-pop duo Kyoto Love Hotel have released new EP When Do You Think It Begins. The dual talents of Laura Sheary and Joe Geaney have consistently impressed with consistently compelling and cinematic music since their first appearance back in 2018. When Do You Think It Begins explores the four seasons and the specific moments in time and memories related with the EP’s four named months. A strong collection of tracks, each brings something to the table from the more considered ‘Settling (July)’ to the relatively upbeat and blissful ‘Fortune Tellers (December)’ but musically and thematically there’s common threads that hold it all together.
We asked the duo to give us some insight into the inspiration behind the EP and their songwriting in general.
Arthur Russell – This is How We Walk on The Moon
I first heard this in a shop in Dublin and wrote the name of it down on a scrap of paper so I’d remember it. I immediately lost the piece of paper but couldn’t stop thinking about the song. Luckily I eventually came across it again. Listening to it makes me really happy. It has a lovely simplicity, the repetition works really well and the vocals still feel so free flowing and effortless even with the repetition. The combination of his voice and cello is gorgeous too. It’s one of those songs that feels like it’s constantly moving towards something – it’s the perfect soundtrack to a walk or a drive. That idea of a journey is something we tried to emulate on our recent single ‘Settling’, both narratively and in the way the music builds.
For Those I Love – Birthday / The Pain
I couldn’t stop going on about For Those I Love when I heard his music for the first time. It’s so good. Our music as Kyoto Love Hotel is obviously very different, but as a writer, I find the way Balfe has focused on writing about the community where he grew up very inspiring. You could write a lifetimes worth of novels or songs exploring the same small town; there are so many pockets of Ireland full of fascinating characters and stories that have yet to be told. I love the narrative quality to Balfe’s work – the friends he talks about, the memories of them burning a couch or driving around the streets of their childhood – they all feel perfectly observed and really recognisable. You can tell how thoughtfully he has drawn them out for us as listeners. The sample used in this song gives it an ecstatic sort of feel and the contrast between this and the lyrics about trauma/loss is beautiful. It’s the kind of music you feel lucky to be listening to. Laura
Caribou – Can’t Do Without You
I managed to catch the Caribou show in Dublin just as gigs became a thing again. It was the most special moment to be together with people singing and dancing. This track grabs you straight away and you can’t help but listen to how it will unfold. A really special song that resonates with me on a personal level. Our Love is still my favourite album since it came out in 2014. Joe
The Gloaming – Samhradh Samhradh
The songs on our upcoming EP When Do You Think It Begins explore moments and characters in a half real/half fictional town, inspired by the town we grew up in (Nenagh, in Tipp). Each song corresponds to a different month during summer, autumn, winter and spring. During the writing, I was seeking out seasonal kinds of songs, and this was the summer song that I had on repeat. The Gloaming make gorgeous music and this song makes me think of lovely people and lovely things like sea swimming and cooking breakfast and drinking pints in a small pub in the back arse of nowhere. Laura
Sylvan Esso – How Did You Know
I love Sylvan Esso and think they make perfect pop songs. I found it hard to pick just one here, but I’ve gone with my current favourite from their new album No Rules Sandy. The tone of Amelia Meath’s voice is so warm and her lyrics always feel really nostalgic to me. This song blends that perfectly with a considered electronic soundscape and a repeated hook for a finish. I love their willingness to experiment with sounds that interact playfully with the vocals and sometimes, to just allow her vocals to stand alone, or to act as the rhythmic driver in a song. I also really like how they move between fun, catchy pop songs and more stripped back pieces – they feel like a band who grow and change with every album. Laura
M83 – Wait
Such a beautiful track. A simple acoustic pattern that builds and adds lovely hooks throughout. It’s really easy to latch onto different elements in the track and get sucked into the mood of the song. It was definitely a reference point for how to start slow and keep progression interesting. Our track ‘If We Had A Mind’ is somewhat similar in its approach. Joe
Cate Le Bon – Home To You
Cate Le Bon is ridiculously cool. The avant-pop, dissonant sort of style of her songs really appeals to me; it’s the kind of music you take something different from on each listen. Thematically, we’re very interested in exploring memory and ideas of home in our music and I’ve been reading books and listening to songs like this that seem to deal with similar sorts of themes. Joe
Taylor Swift – Cardigan
I have listened to the Folklore album way too many times to admit. My partner and I would play it on repeat in car journeys around the country. This track was the single taken from the album and it just nailed a certain sound I really loved. It’s a sound that felt nostalgic and brand new at the same time. I really love the percussion and the mix on this one. Joe
Big Thief – Not
Adrianne Lenker is one of my favourite lyricists ever. Her words often seem to perfectly sum up two sides to life – small moments of human interaction and physicality and then simultaneous awe at the vast, intangible nature of existence. This song is insanely good and has so much raw energy behind it. That moment where the guitars drop out and it’s just Lenker singing with bass and drums before it all kicks in again and her voice hardens and breaks with emotion – unreal. Laura
LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
The nearly off time piano line is so good. You could play hardcore techno and finish the night with this song and it would be absolutely perfect. It’s an anthem among my friend group. I’m pretty sure we’re not the only group who’s closing few hours of a night consists of blaring ‘All My Friends’ at ridiculous levels. It’s a special tune you play around close friends. Joe