Aussie Kim Churchill recalls working with a local hero
When Vancouver rock musician and producer Todd Simko passed away last month at the age of 45, it was a huge loss to the community that had followed his work with Pure and other local acts. But if it’s any consolation to the fans of Simko’s behind-the-scenes output, his talent as a producer shines brightly on detail of distance, the new album from 21-year-old Aussie folk-roots phenom Kim Churchill.
The two first met last year when Churchill was making a live solo recording at a cozy location in Montreal, and Simko was brought in to mix and master.
“He did a brilliant job,” recalls Churchill, on the line from Australia’s Gold Coast the morning after playing the Blues on Broadbeach Festival. “He really liked the songs, and we kind of established a relationship through that. And when it was time to do the album I thought that he would be the perfect producer to do it, because he would give you a certain amount of freedom as an artist to be yourself, you know.
“He didn’t have an ego,” adds Churchill, “and he didn’t have his own agenda. He wasn’t thinking along the lines of ‘This record is going to be something that has “Produced by Todd Simko” on it, so I want it to sound a certain way.’ His main concern was making me happy.”
Recorded at Vancouver’s Hipposonic Studios just four months ago, detail of distance is the “more adventurous, more experimental” follow-up to Churchill’s highly praised debut, With Shield and Sword.
“I recorded the first album about two-and-half years ago,” he explains, “and for me that feels like a lifetime ago. It was so much time to write the new songs, and I just polished them and looked at them from different angles and kept analyzing them. I think I had the songs to a point where I knew where every bar of every song would be, and I knew exactly how I wanted it to sound. Todd picked up on that pretty quickly, and I think one of the ways that he’s brilliant as a producer was bringing the performances out of me but allowing me to continue on the path of creating what I had as a vision for the album.”
One of the most impressive results of the Churchill/Simko alliance is “Season’s Grind”, the new disc’s first single. A captivating video for the hypnotic rocker was shot by Nanaimo filmmaker Tash Baycroft, and shows lifelong surfer Churchill riding the waves in Tofino, travelling along the B.C. coast, and just generally grooving on the natural beauty of it all.
“One of the brilliant things was being old enough to understand why I appreciate how beautiful Tofino is,” says Churchill, “the drive and the mountains and the lake and everything about it. I really understood why it was so amazing, and it brought to my attention the fact that there is a lot of similarities in Australia. So the beauty of Canada really woke me up to what I had in my own country, for the first time, which was kind of nice.”
Kim Churchill plays Fortune Sound Club on Wednesday (June 6).
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