What a sight to see, and I don’t just mean Kim Churchill’s devastatingly good looks. This guy plays a mean guitar and somehow manages to do so while manning the harmonica and the kick drum, all at the same time.
Wrapping up the last leg of his tour in a packed house at Vancouver’s Media Club, Churchill hangs out with PopCounterCulture before the show to talk about how an environment can shape emotion, his battle with finding a sense of home, and the theory behind why Canadians and Australians are such similar peoples.
What is a pivotal moment in your life that has brought you here today?
I remember the evening that my mum brought home a guitar for the first time. I was four or five years old. She was getting lessons. My mom thought that she could have her lessons on a Wednesday evening or whatever and then she could come home and give me the lesson she just got. That was better for her to learn and it kind of helped me out as well. That was quite a pivotal moment.
Your album includes many themes of nature. Is being one with nature an important part of your lifestyle?
It’s funny because I hadn’t noticed that in the old songs, but I have noticed it in the new songs I’ve written…[nature] is quite important in everybody’s life. I think a lot of people don’t pay attention to it. You see how a general aesthetic of an environment can change on a really rainy day or on a really sunny day…you look at the different personalities of people that grew up in a city environment or a country environment. For me anyway, it’s an important factor in people’s emotions and establishing who they are, certainly in my own emotions and establishing who I am.
Is your album is a compilation of your beliefs and experiences?
I guess songs in general are that. They’re kind of your reflective vomit of everything you’re digesting. The album that I have now is very much indicative of a time in life and in a time of immense change going from schooling to a career in music – making all these decisions and leaving a lot of things behind…It’s more a collection of reactions to things, whereas the new songs I’ve been writing are more observing the new things around me.
Three tracks on your album use the word “home” in the title. What does home mean to you?
I don’t have [a home] so I find it interesting that I write about it a lot. I guess it’s something that I think about a lot, especially not having a physical house. It’s kind of something I battle with a lot myself, whether I’m doing the right thing or whether I’m missing out on some essential part of life, not having that. Generally home is whatever you choose it to be. It can be how ever you choose to embrace home. Everybody has to in a sense, feel a sense of home and a sense of belonging to a degree and I guess for me, the reason home comes up so much is that I’m trying to work out what mine is.
There’s a lot of conviction in the song, “Battle of Shibuya”. What inspired it?
It was when I was in Japan and I was in Shibuya. It was triggered by seeing these two guys have a conversation in a tapas bar. They were just so ridiculously different. One guy had this really nice suit on and he seemed to physically be giving the idea that he had a lot of money. The other guy seemed to be doing the complete opposite of that…That song came out of me watching them talk and I don’t understand Japanese so I didn’t understand what they were talking about, so I kind of constructed this idea in my head that they were coming at each other from these very different angles on how they’ve chosen to live their lives.
Your guitar is a one-man-band. Where did you develop that skill?
I played a lot of classical guitar for a long time. I found a lot of things very frustrating with classical guitar, especially the discipline and the attention to every note having to be played as it was written on the page. All of these things frustrated me so when I finished playing classical guitar, I really looked to creatively rebel against all that discipline and all that perfection that they demanded.
What do you take away from the musicians you look up to?
I’m a massive music fan. I listen to hours of music everyday. I find some music, I listen to because it makes me happy – it actually changes my state of mind. Coldplay for example, Coldplay makes me really happy. All different kinds of music give me different kinds of emotions and put me in different places. The music that really talks to me, I find it puts me in a place that nothing else, no other thing that can take me there…Every artist will take you to some place that you’ve never been before and I guess I look to some of those places more than others.
There’s a common belief that Canadians and Australians are very similar. Have you found that to be true?
I’ve thought about it for hours and I feel like through extensive research and surveys, I’ve come to the conclusion that it comes from something very simple – the fact that we’re both big countries and everything’s spread out. If you’re in Germany and all of a sudden someone from France needs you, you can be there in a couple of hours. This creates different ideas of time. You could be in a different country in a couple of hours, dealing with a different language and economic system and government. Everything becomes more rushed and everyone expects things more quickly…What Canada and Australia have in common is, if you’re in Perth, you’re just not going to get to Sydney for a couple of days unless you fly – I’m talking about driving. If you’re in Toronto, you’re not going to get to Vancouver in a couple of days. In that way we share a much more relaxed idea about time and our expectations are not that demanding and in that we are much more relaxed people.