“It was genuine love at first sight.”
In February 2011, ‘toy-folk-pop’ singer Kate Daisy Grant was looking for a multi-instrumentalist musician to work on her second album. A friend asked her: ‘have you thought of Nick Pynn?’
“I checked him out on YouTube, and I immediately knew: he’s the one for me.”It took Nick, an ‘avant-folk’ musician, a little, but not much, longer. “I went to see Kate’s next gig, we met, and within two hours we were in love.”Nick got the job, of course, and the couple started working together, both in the studio and live. They got married in August 2012, in Edinburgh, on their day off from their run at the Fringe.
Sitting outside a pub near their Brighton home, I ask them why they feel they complement one another so well (musically speaking).“Kate’s songs, voice and musicality blew me away,” says Nick. “I realised we were both crafting the music we each want to hear, regardless of whether it’s ‘commercial’ or not. And the instruments she plays so fabulously are ones that I don’t play, like the piano, the cello and the auto-harp.”
“Nick is brilliant with anything with strings,” says Kate. “Among many other instruments he plays the five-string fiddle, the Appalachian dulcimer and bass pedals. He’s also an expert in live looping – he was one of the first people to use it – which is like laying down tracks in the studio: there might only be one or two of us on stage, but it can sound like ten or twenty.”
The gig in Lewes is, in part, a launch for Nick’s latest album, Buffalo Orbison, and, like all their gigs, will comprise two sets, with both artists playing their own music, with support from the other: “we’re each other’s backing band”.
Nick will demonstrate his ability to play a succession of different instruments, often at the same time, a skill for which he has been dubbed (by comedian Stewart Lee, no less) ‘the octopus of sound’. “He will also use some ‘found’ instruments: for example, his backing singers, the Crystal Sisters, are five wine glasses,” says Kate.
Nick describes Kate’s music as ‘experi-pop’: “there are classical influences, and folk influences, overlaid by a poppy feel. It’s playful but dark.” Her voice has been likened to Tori Amos, Kate Bush and ‘a less aggressive Amanda Palmer’ and she’s flattered by those comparisons, though she says her major influences, have been just as much “Jeff Buckley, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen.” Part of her set will be from her forthcoming album, Lullaby, “a dreamy harmonising of lullabies from around the world, exploring our ability as humans to co-exist.”
As a parting shot, I ask the couple what problems arise from their co-existence, both at home and at work. I mean, it hardly worked for Sonny and Cher.“Problems?”, says Nick, and there is a slightly puzzled silence as they both have a long and fruitless think.
All Saints, 24th May, £12