It’s nothing against Australia, it’s just that singer-songwriter Kim Churchill is a travelin’ man, which means there’s only so much territory you can cover despite this geographically vast land of ours. In the lead up to his last tour of Australia for the year before heading overseas, Churchill says it’s a bitter-sweet feeling playing his upcoming round of farewell shows.
“After being overseas and coming back to Australia recently, I felt like I had a new performance for people, rather than playing the same set over and over again. We have a brilliant music scene in Australia, but we have nowhere as much people as, for example, there are in Europe obviously.”
While Churchill has successfully toured Europe too, it’s really Canada in particular that feels like a “home away from home,” according to the singer. Despite the enormous differences in weather between Canada and Australia, Churchill claims most would probably be surprised just how much the two countries have in common. “It’s definitely become a second home to me!” he confesses.
“It’s such a beautiful country both in terms of people’s personalities and the scenery. We actually have a lot in common with them, they are just as relaxed as Australians and the two countries would really get along, I think. Everyone has been so welcoming to me there; it’s all because of their attitude. Even before I started touring in Canada, I had friends that lived there and so I just found I always naturally got along with them.”
According to Churchill, Canada also seems to be the capital of busking festivals – something which is right up the singer’s alley, despite his burgeoning and successful music career.
“I still love doing it, I don’t ever want to stop!” he enthuses. “I love busking at markets and stuff on weekends or when I’ve got some downtime. I don’t get to do it nearly as much as I used to, but it’s still a brilliant way to get paid. It’s also a great way to promote yourself as a street act because that can lead to a lot of gigs down the line.”
Really, that’s where it’s at for Churchill: the wide open road and his beloved van, while he’s in Australia anyway. However, it’s his international travels that have served as his most interesting stories so far. Take Japan as a case in point…
“That was pretty mind-blowing because Japan is such a different music scene; it’s like being on another planet,” Churchill laughs. “The funny thing is that there’s no pubs over there, not really. They’re very few and far between. People usually go to drink in tapas bars and stuff like that.
“I was in Tokyo and the way it works is that friends get together in a tapas bar in a two-hour block, then they drink and have something to eat and hang out, then they move onto a different place, again, for a two-hour block!”
Seeing Jack White perform in a dodgy little caravan at this year’s South By Southwest music conference is another story that makes Churchill light up as he recalls it… “I’ll never forget that just because it’s massive!” he laughs. “The most amazing thing was getting to see all the bands every single night. The main street in Austin has music playing from literally every corner – it’s like 200 venues in three or four blocks.
“I remember walking around and I saw this yellow caravan on the side of the road and there was a guy playing ‘50s rockabilly stuff with like one speaker. I looked in the window and it was Jack White and The White Stripes doing like a vinyl DJ set with only five people watching! That kind of thing is just something you never really see anywhere else!”
Certainly, Churchill’s overseas adventures have had a massive impact on his songwriting. When you find yourself in a hotel room with lots of time to just chill, there’s really not much else you can do anyway.
“I love writing commentary about the different environments I’m seeing as I’m constantly traveling,” Churchill states. “They’re sort of conversational pieces in that respect, but it’s certainly not the only inspiration for lyrics. At the moment I’m really tempted to do a live album because at this stage I’ve got pretty much all the songs ready to go in the studio and I could even do it tomorrow…” he grins.
“I know I should take my time to make sure it’s done right though. I’ve been talking with some different people overseas about working with them but hopefully we’ll have it locked in by January next year. So far I’ve had an album out called With Sword And Shield which was done in Byron Bay and which sort of captured my nomadic, busking lifestyle.
“Then eight months ago I did an EP called Turn To Stone where I got to work with Forrester Savell. That was amazing in itself because it was the first time I got to work with a real producer. When you record yourself sometimes you cringe, but Forrester made me love it when I heard my voice back, which says a lot about a producer. Hopefully we’ll get to work together at some point again.”
KIM CHURCHILL will bring his roots-based championship moves to The Northcote Social Club on Saturday June 11 (joined by The Hello Morning solo and Rick Steward) – tickets from northcotesocialclub.com, 9486 1677 or The Corner box office. You can find his With Sword And Shield and Turns To Stone releases at kimchurchill.com, and you can also check out some championship moves at championshipmoves.com,au/moves.