After hearing the upcoming EP from Highland Kites, I knew that I had to chat with them. Thankfully, Marissa Lamar took carved some time out of her busy schedule and took a few minutes to answer some questions about the band’s origins, the new EP, I’m Not Weak, and a little bit about what is good and bad about music today. I hope you enjoy this as much we did. So I would love to introduce you to Marissa Lamar of Highland Kites!
Marissa Lamar: Thank you for doing this! Well, I started off writing songs on the piano as a solo act in 2014. I did some open mics and was testing the waters with my material, getting a little more confident and comfortable playing live. Once I was ready – I really wasn’t that ready – I booked my first show and sort of put a band together of friends that played instruments, this is where I met Neil [Briggs] who ended up staying in the band. Once I played in a band setting I couldn’t go back to just writing solo. I’ve always envisioned my songs with more layers and instrumentation.
LM: When I first heard your upcoming album, I’m Not Weak, the first thing that came to mind was, “This is what indie music should be.” What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear your finished album?
ML: Thank you so much,! That really means a lot to us. To be honest, we worked so hard on this, with so many out of town trips, recording, re-rerecording, re-working songs that when we finally finished I just felt relieved to be done. I poured so much of my heart into these songs, I honestly had no idea whether anyone would even like them. I felt content in knowing that I did everything I could to make the most honest piece of art I could make. The recording process took a little longer than we wanted, just because we were meticulous and insistent that every song had to feel right emotionally.
LM: Everything came out beautifully and was worth the wait! Music is also such a personal thing and in today’s market, that can get lost. This is real music. Could you tell us what makes this record so personal to you?
ML: This record really is my conclusion of the last few years of my life, how I processed all the various things that have happened, my hope for the future and love for being alive. It’s about personal relationships, not just with others but with myself. By the end of this EP I come to peace with who I am, which is a much stronger person than I ever thought I was or could be.
Music has always been this to me. It’s therapeutic and special and honest. When it isn’t it is detectable and you feel like you’re being lied to and something feels off. That is not type of art I gravitate towards and not the type of art I ever want to make. This is probably why I don’t pay attention to what genre we are writing in or to making each song sound similar, or to what’s “popular right now”. I feel like your genre and style comes naturally from just writing a lot of music. I just don’t care so much about what’s popular. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it’s the only way I know how to make art. If I start thinking about what other people might like or think is good, I stop being able to make anything.
LM: That’s why I was drawn to this album because of its soul and honesty. I have a soft spot for “Monster”. It is a brilliantly complex and introspective track. What is the inspiration and story behind this track?
ML: I love that you like this song. This songs means quite a lot to me. I actually wrote this years ago and have kept it close, refusing to record or release it because it felt too personal and dark. But, when we started recording this EP I made the decision to just throw it out there, to just be brutally honest with myself and with whoever happens to find our music. I feel like this world needs that kind of honesty right now. This is one of the first tracks we knew had to be on this EP.
The inspiration behind it…it’s really an introspective song about wanting so badly to run, to escapes life’s monsters and get to a place of peace with myself. It’s the realization that I was everything that was wrong with my life, and that no matter how far or fast I ran I couldn’t escape me. It was that moment that allowed me to change and become a stronger, and find peace with who I was and where I was going in life.
LM: Makes me love that song even more! So you obviously know my favorite track. So I have to ask what is your favorite?
ML: I would say it’s a tie between “Monsters” and “I’m Not Weak”. But, of course I love them all. There’s something special for me about each one, and all for a different reason.
LM: Normally in a 5-song EP things get a little repetitive. You guys have found a way to branch out and show a ton of influences but still keep the EP cohesive. Tell us a little about the thought process of picking the tracks for the EP?
ML: We have written a lot of songs over the last year or so. We had to sift through a lot of material to pick the right ones. I tend to just decide what story I want to tell, and how I envision people feeling after hearing all the songs together, and pick it based off that. We also had personal favorites and ones that people are into when we play live, so that went into the decision making process too.
LM: With the EP coming out at the end of July. What are your plans for supporting the new music?
ML: Well, we are doing a big release show on July 29th in LA. I have a lot of special things in store for our fans, like custom hand-painted merch, etc. After this we plan to get out of town and go back to the Pacific Northwest which we’ve been wanting to do ever since our first tour there. We love it up there, it’s beautiful and people are so supportive and kind.
LM: Oh man, we can’t wait for you to make up to our neck of the woods! Thank you again for chatting with us! It has been an absolute pleasure!
ML: Of course! Thank you so much for caring about and supporting our music, it truly means a lot!
Check out the title track, “I’m Not Weak”, off Highland Kites‘s upcoming EP. Also, you can pre-order the EP, I’m Not Weak: HERE.