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Los Angeles-Via-Melbourne Duo Satellite Sky Speaks To Us

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In anticipation of their record release party at the Viper Room in a few days, the Aussie duo Satellite Sky was nice enough to answer a few of my questions. The duo features two siblings, Pete Kicks on guitar and Kim Kicks on drums, who are now living in Los Angeles, and their high energy sound and shows have caught the attention of KCRW DJ, LA Weekly columnist and punk rock luminary Henry Rollins and KROQ’s Mayor of the Sunset Strip Rodney Bingenheimer.

When did you start playing music?

We were fortunate enough to grow up in an extremely creative environment. Our mum played piano and encouraged us to do the same. Kim wanted to learn drums and decided to get drum lessons. It just made sense that I start playing guitar so we could jam together. Our parents allowed us to set up in the garage and be as loud as we wanted. We did have quite a few complaints from our neighbours in the early days as I imagine the noise we were making was pretty interesting!

Is there an artist who had a profound impact on your decision to write music?

Growing up our parents had a massive vinyl collection that they would let us play whenever we wanted. It had everything from Michael Jackson to the Beatles. I’m sure this sparked something creative. I remember hearing ‘Paint It Black’ as a little kid and just being super amped, running around the living room. I didn’t know who the Stones were or what I was listening to, but I knew it was awesome.

We also used to go to concerts as little kids with our mum and have the opportunity to see massive rock n roll shows at an early stage.

Are you tired of being compared toWhite Stripes, when you are really a brother-sister duo?

It’s not tiring to hear that as we do like the White Stripes and what they achieved. If people can relate to us before they see us play, that’s a good thing. It is an inevitable comparison when people find out we’re siblings, play rock n roll and have a female drummer. While we do have quite a few songs that are just guitar and drums, our approach to playing live is probably a little different. While we do use dual amps and octave pedals for a bigger sound, we also trigger tracks that have different instrumentation like keyboard samples and aim to create a soundscape that is more indicative of what you hear on our recordings and would not necessarily expect from a duo. They are usually quick to acknowledge we’re quite different after they see us play.

What made you decide to move to the US and to Los Angeles in particular?

The blue sky, sunshine and beautiful people! Just kidding, although that is an awesome aspect to living in L.A. We had toured over here a couple of times and started getting some love from licensing our music in films. We were traveling back and forth from Oz and that 15 hour flight definitely adds up! As an indie rock band with an emphasis on our live show and the opportunities that presented themselves for touring and licensing in the U.S, it made sense to move here.

How is the music scene in Australia? Do you think you had to come to the US to really make it?

There are some absolutely amazing bands in Oz. We used to work in music studios and would be surrounded by quality musicians all day. There are ways to make a living through music back home, but it is obviously a much smaller market and for our style of music, the U.S felt like the right place to be.

Can you describe your music? What are your biggest influences?

We love what we do and have a lot of fun writing, recording, rehearsing, playing gigs and touring. We think this is reflected in our music.

Between the two of us, our musical influences are broad. We love 60’s and 70’s rock and Brit Pop.

I listened to a lot of Zeppelin when I first started playing guitar. As everyone knows, Jimmy Page’s guitar riffs are just mind blowing. Kim loves her Motown, funk & soul and some harder rock such as Queens of The Stone Age and Faith No More. We also draw influence from people outside of the musical spectrum. People who are taking steps to make positive change around the world, whether that be on an environmental level, artistic level, or humanitarian level .

What is your dream collaboration?

We would not complain if we were in a room with David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Stevie Wonder, Brian May, and fellow Aussie Sia, who just has an incredible voice.

The title of your album is Magnetize? Can you talk about it?

It relates in a number of different ways. We love the old feel and sound of studio recordings that were tracked to tape and aimed to emulate that vibe on this recording. In this type of recording process, electrical currents produce different patterns of magnetism in the tape, so the word was quite relevant throughout. Magnetize is a lyric on our second track ‘Rivals’ and it just stood out to be featured as the title of the record. We also like the idea of energizing and drawing in crowds and listeners with our music and show and that particular word seems to sum that up.

Pete, you went to University and received and honors degree in Science in Australia. It is a very unusual path for a musician, did you definitively pick music over science?

It wasn’t down to making a choice to being a musician over a scientist. I never really saw myself working in a laboratory or anything like that, but I was genuinely fascinated with learning about the different elements that make up the sciences as well as focusing on environmental issues. I always knew that the end result was having knowledge and that was going to hold me in good stead in whatever I decided to do. This has manifested itself in some of our music including new songs such as ‘Lightning in The Room’. The beautiful thing about delving into these topics is that they really allow you to gain perspective on where you sit in the universe. Particularly in the music industry, you’re always striving for that next thing and inevitably, there are a lot of ups and downs. I’ve learn’t to take a moment and enjoy those successes when they come along.

What do you think of the present state of the music business? I am talking about Spotify and other streaming services which pay musicians only pennies. Is your music going to be on Spotify?

Our music is available on these sites. The exposure it creates to new fans is important for us. Most people tend to find new music through Pandora or Spotify. When you’re as big as Taylor Swift, sure, you can dictate how people access your tunes, but for an indie band it is a valuable tool to get out to as many people as possible. It is unfortunate that musicians do not receive adequate remuneration for plays on these sites and it is definitely exploitation of the artist by big business but this is not something that is new to the game. People will obtain music or movies they love whether they pay for it or illegally download. It would be awesome if artists got what they actually deserved as far as monetary payment, but in general, if it means these people will come to our show next time we’re in their town, we can live with that. As a band that’s been touring consistently throughout the U.S recently, we have seen that people do have an appetite for new music and for rock n roll. It would be great if there was a deeper understanding of what bands actually go through to get to the point where they are on stage, or have a record released. People do like to support the artists by buying t shirts and cds so it is just a matter of hoping that if someone has downloaded your music illegally, they may like the band enough to support them in other ways.

Do you think it is still possible to have a successful career in music when young musicians have such a hard time to make a living?

Yes. It is not easy but there is a way. It seems there are numerous bands out there now that people probably only know their current single because they have heard it on the radio. The days of going out and buying a new record of an artist you follow are diminishing and this comes from the culture of being able to access everything from your laptop or phone. Again, people not needing to pay for music they listen to is inherent in today’s society and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. So it’s about finding ways to use this to your advantage. Whether that be through licensing opportunities in film, t.v, commercials, or building your fan base organically through constant touring. It comes down to the fact that if things aren’t going our way, we just dig in and work harder as there’s nothing else that we would rather be doing.

What do you think of the importance of social media in a music career? Isn’t it a bit overwhelming to be doing everything (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,…) at once?

It has become an integral part of marketing and reaching audiences, however now that platforms such as Facebook are publicly listed companies who have shareholders to answer to, they tend to control where your posts are seen and encourage you to have to pay for posts in order to reach a greater audience. A number of our fans have stated that they have not been seeing our posts regularly so that is definitely concerning. There needs to be something between what twitter and facebook are now and what MySpace used to be a few years ago. We’re very active on our socials and aim to engage our fan base as much as possible so they feel they are a part of what we are trying to achieve. It is time consuming but it has to be done.

Do you have a favorite movie? And why?

Blues Brothers is just awesome because of the calibre of musicians they managed to get in that film and the soundtrack is phenomenal. Spinal Tap is just hilarious, and The Matrix is one of those movies that makes you think about the reality you live in.

You have a release show very soon at the Viper room, but do you plan to tour very soon?

Yes, We love touring and are heading up the coast for a few shows end of May and plan on touring again in July through October. Stay tuned for tour dates. Meanwhile, we are amped to be rockin out to launch our record at The Viper Room. We love the venue and it’s always fun to play in Hollywood.

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