Interview with Kai in Music News June 16th 2024

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Pista
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In this exclusive interview, Kai shares his remarkable journey from stepping into the spotlight as a guitarist for The Sisters of Mercy on short notice to shaping the vibrant sound of Esprit D’Air.

From rapid song learning techniques to unforgettable fan interactions and the joys of independent music success, Kai offers a candid and insightful look into his multifaceted career in the music industry.
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Todashi
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Fair play to him. I gotta say, the idea of learning all the guitar parts to a sisters gig at three days notice using downloaded phone videos on Youtube Premium while sitting on a plane sounds like the stuff of nightmares to me.

I would have thought the band would have at least clean soundboard stems to send to Kai so he could at least hear clean versions of the parts. He did extraordinarly well considering. Gotta love the idea that he was meant to watch that first show and thought 'f**k it, I'll give it a go'

Also interesting in this interview is his comment that he doesn't drink. I wonder was that a factor for Ben in choosing him? It probably makes things easier if you're trying to avoid booze if the guy on the other side of the stage is also abstinent. Dunno how much Von drinks these days but he's an older guy with performance stress on his shoulders, so I'd imagine he knows how to control himself at this stage.
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Jan
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https://www.music-news.com/review/UK/15 ... prit-D-Air

He shares how he found his way into the band and learning the repertoire in a very short time ... interesting insights!
"For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal." (John F. Kennedy, 1963)
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I add your post to the existing thread @Jan :)
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Jan
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Pista wrote: 18 Jun 2024, 17:58 I add your post to the existing thread @Jan :)
Hah, I looked for it but obviously in the wrong section … my bad, and thank you :-)
"For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal." (John F. Kennedy, 1963)
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Questions in interview regarding The Sisters:

How did the opportunity to join The Sisters of Mercy come about?

Back in October 2023, I was on tour with my band Esprit D’Air and was on my way to France for rehearsal when I suddenly received a phone call from my friend and The Sisters of Mercy guitarist Ben Christo, who told me that a band is looking for a guitarist or bassist that plays in a particular rock style—he didn’t tell me which band it was for. I said I am pretty busy, but I could possibly do it!

The next day, he called again, and said it’s actually for The Sisters of Mercy, and that he only mentioned ‘bass’ as a red herring, so I wouldn’t guess it was actually for them. However, he told me that they needed someone as soon as possible. The earliest I could join them was after my last Esprit D’Air show on October 12th, which meant that I needed to fly over to Würzburg in Germany by October 13th, to join them for the show on the 14th. Now, that’s only a few days' notice to learn 20+ songs… Whilst on my way to Poland, and as crazy as I am, I said “yes” straight away because it was an opportunity I could not pass up on.

Considering you only had a few days to prepare for your first show with The Sisters of Mercy, how did you go about learning over 20 songs so quickly and ensuring you were ready for the performance?

So, I had Esprit D’Air shows on the 8th, 10th and 12th of October. It was pretty hectic because I was also the promoter, tour manager, and obviously, one of the performers for all these busy shows—that left me with the 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th to learn the repertoire, and those were all days where I had to take a plane to fly to each show. I dedicated all my time to learning the songs on those days.

The only riff I knew how to play before learning the material was “Temple of Love” because I was a fan, and half of the material I needed to learn was unreleased, meaning that I had to search all over YouTube for phone recordings of these songs to learn the parts. I purchased a subscription to YouTube Premium, so I could download all the videos I needed on my phone, so I could watch and listen to them over and over whilst travelling on the plane. Once I got checked into hotels, I just spent the whole day playing the songs over and over.

Given the intense schedule and the unconventional way you had to learn the songs, how did you manage the pressure and stay focused? Were there any particular strategies or techniques that helped you absorb the material quickly?

On the Esprit D’Air show days, I tried to maintain focus on Esprit D’Air only, because it was important to ensure that those shows run smoothly too, and to make sure that my mind was in the right place for those.

As for learning the songs for the Sisters—to break it down, the first thing to do was to obviously learn all the positions on the guitar and how to play the songs. I used my ear and guitar to work out how to play them. Given the limited time and hectic schedule with the flights, there were many hours when I couldn't physically practice because the guitar is in a luggage hold. During these times, I found it incredibly helpful to mentally visualize myself playing the songs while listening to them on the plane or while traveling. This mental practice was crucial in helping me internalize the music. Half of the battle is physically playing the songs, the other half is mentally absorbing them.

That’s impressive! Did you have a rehearsal with them?

On the day of the first show, we managed to run through the songs in Chris Catalyst’s hotel room for about 30 minutes, and we also had a very brief soundcheck, so that was it, really. The original plan wasn’t to start playing with them on the first day, but to only watch the show and play along from the side of the stage, but I decided to just go for it and play the show in Würzburg. I thought, if I messed up, oh well—I had to eventually do it, right?

That’s brave! How was the first show? Were there any moments that stood out to you, either as challenges or as particularly rewarding experiences?

It was crazy. I was so caught up in learning the songs and being so busy with the travelling that the seriousness of all this did not hit me until I sat down at the catering area of the first venue and was served food. It was then when I started crying a little… “I am being fed food before a show…”, I thought to myself. It was only then when it started to hit me that this has become real, and that I am here now. This is my life now, and I am about to start touring with this legendary band.

I was, of course, nervous, as anyone would be in my position. However, I was met with applause and love from the crowd, and I was able to play through all the songs that I worked hard on learning, and even joined in on backing vocals on some songs. At the end of the first couple of shows, Andrew Eldritch took my hand to the center of the stage and got me to bow with him. I got really emotional. I couldn’t hold back my tears. I am forever grateful to both Andrew and Ben, who gave me their trust on this role and position. It has been truly a surreal and life-affirming experience.

Given your rapid integration into The Sisters of Mercy's live performances, have you had the opportunity to contribute to their songwriting process or bring any new ideas to the band's musical direction?

For the October/November 2023 tour, I didn’t really have much chance to, except to play the songs as faithfully as they were. However, since the start of this year, I have had the opportunity to create new guitar parts to their existing unreleased material, such as “I Will Call You”, “But Genevieve”, and “Eyes of Caligula”. I love those songs as they were, and they’re written so beautifully, but I wanted to add more depth with complementing sparkly clean melodies. Fortunately, they have been really welcoming to the changes and open with my involvement, which I am really grateful for.

As a vocalist, I've also noticed an opportunity to align some of our backing vocals more closely with the deep and operatic quality that defines The Sisters of Mercy's sound, so that has been really fun to do. Recently, I have also had the privilege to perform the Ofra Haza parts to “Temple of Love”, which has been a true honor.
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That's all really lovely to hear. I am even more of a Kai fan now.
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rivum
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i can't beleive that Ben wasn't able to provide them something written for the songs they had to learn. i guess it just wasn't written out?
really incredible that they had to figure it out on their own. amazing that they were able to do that - goes to show their talent!
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rivum wrote: 27 Jun 2024, 16:15 i can't beleive that Ben wasn't able to provide them something written for the songs they had to learn. i guess it just wasn't written out?
really incredible that they had to figure it out on their own. amazing that they were able to do that - goes to show their talent!
Ben mentioned in multiple interviews he doesn't know how to read/write sheet music properly, so I'm not surprised that there's no songbook or anything.
I'm sure Ben gave Kai general pointers once they started jamming/rehearsing, that said Kai is a skilled professional musician with tons of experience, and sisters songs ain't very complicated tbh.
Chris once mentioned that learning all the sisters songs was never a problem, aside from corrosion cuz it was a pain to play/sing it at the same time for some reason.
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