A baptism of brimstone via appearances at Coachella and Lollapalooza has only strengthened the musical resolve of Melbourne-born, London-residing singer-songwriter Kaity Dunstan. As CLOVES, the 22-year-old has just released her first ever album of sensual pop-rock, showcasing a remarkable voice.
You’ve said that single Bringing The House Down is about a relationship you were in that was too placid to involve any “real emotion.” It’s such a tough situation because there’s no obvious, visible trouble to observers, so often they don’t comprehend the problem. Did you have friends misunderstand your situation?
I think it’s difficult because sometimes it represents lack of chemistry… it creates a distance between the two of you because sometimes you feel like you’re not necessarily two individuals in a relationship that are coming together and having genuinely honest conversations. And yes, people misunderstand that: ‘Oh, everything’s cool, ‘cos you don’t argue!’ I think sometimes it’s easy to misunderstand that.
But at the very least, you end up learning about yourself.
Yes – it meant I understood that whatever relationship I’m in next, I want to make sure that I’m always myself and I’m more able to say what I want and how I feel.
Your description of how you created the Wasted Time clip sounds as if you aren’t afraid to try a load of different things. Is experimenting very important to you (whether it be within music or other mediums or parts of your life)?
Having the time to experiment on something is the biggest gift when you don’t really know where you’re going. When I was making this record, as much as I knew my influences and what kind of pieces I wanted to take from people and mix, I didn’t necessarily know how to translate that into a record. In the beginning I was sort of deliberating on, “Is this right? Is this right? I don’t know. Can we play it back now for six hours?” But I was given the gift of having time to actually understand and build those skills, and I can build up on them again for the next record. I know how to make things sound the way I want now.
And so now you feel like you’ve reached that point where your output matches the sounds you’re hearing in your head?
Yeah, exactly. It’s an evolution – it’s just like anything. I think sometimes there’s this impression in music of, like, some people are just born genius. But people spend their whole life doing what they’re doing, then it finally comes into fruition at the right time because they’ve put so much work in; you fluff around on your laptop, you wrote down your lyrics, you’ve been listening to one song trying to understand why it sounds like it does or what they’re singing about or how they did what they did. There’s time and effort and care. It’s not just music, it could be anything – being a doctor, being a lawyer, whatever it is – it’s the work people don’t see.
Closer One Big Nothing is enormous with these cinematic strings, and the piano has an almost Meatloaf-level of triumph. And then it whispers away, with one last exhalation at the end. Did you know straight-up you wanted this to be the closer?
Yes. One Big Nothing is a really good representation of a song that took a very long time to make. I brought it into the studio to work on it, and it became this process of digging through all these different ideas, and changing things, and re-writing things, and writing an outro and adding a melody, we can bring it up, we can bring it down. And I wanted this breath at the end, where it’s like, exhale all this f-cking sh-t and stress that was making the album, and also just life in general. Just trying to feel like you can move on to the next step.
It reminds me of how the ‘ping’ noise at the end of OK Computer was supposedly meant to be a microwave. It was Thom Yorke’s symbolic little “Finished!”
Amazing. That’s so sick, I love that. Oh my God.
Your posture when you sing is kind of unique: you have your hands on your hips, but with the palms turned upwards. It seems a really difficult way to stand while singing. How is it not?
Do you know what? I think I’m just a really disjointed person. There’s things that look really uncomfortable are actually comfortable for me. I’m one of those people that triple crosses their legs when they sit down, and people are like “Why are you doing that?” and I’m like, “It’s just really comfortable.” People say it’s really bad for you but I can’t not do it.
One Big Nothing is out September 28 via Island/Universal.
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