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April Fish - April Fish Newsletter Interview

01 Apr 2018 // An interview by ShelleySketch
A name born from the literal translation of the French term for "April Fools (day)", April Fish is pianist/singer-songwriter Katie Morton ably backed by John Costa. The music is a concoction of soundscapes with an artistic freedom that is so left of the middle, it's as if Tim Burton and Kate Bush are in command of the Starship Enterprise as it boldly accompanies Alice down the rabbit hole. Or put simply, to borrow the words of Katie's niece: "It sounds like an alien invading a circus." Shelley from MNZ spoke to Katie about all things April Fish, and here's what was said:

Kia Ora Katie,

My name is Shelley and I will be doing this interview for Muzic.net.nz. How are you?

Kia ora Shelley! I’m good thanks :)

Where did the name ‘April Fish’ come from?

In France on April 1st they say “poisson d’avril!” (“April fish!”) and try to sneakily attach fish to each other. It’s the same as our April Fool’s except with just one specific prank that probably got old decades ago.

How would you describe your music?

Theatrical? Intense? Dark? Complex? The opposite of chill, so... high-strung? Haha.

How do you come up with your lyrics and what inspires you the most when writing your lyrics?

Writing lyrics can feel like a careful dance with my peripheral vision. A combination of leading and following, trying to allow space for them to tell me which direction they want to go, and me helping guide us there. If I’m too passive or too heavy-handed or look at them too closely one of us will fall over.

What are your influences, if you have any?

I love artistic expression that is complicated and real. Music that goes unexpected places, things that not only grab attention, but insist on keeping it. I’m inspired by people who are comfortable in their own eccentric skin, and am influenced by art that teaches me something by showing me what’s possible when you test the solidity of rules and boundaries.

You’ve just released your new single Axident. It’s a good track which seems to have a somewhat scary undertone. Like you’ve committed murder. I also like the play on the word accident. Can you tell us more about it?

Hahaha thank you! This track kind of ended up on the album by, uh, not-on-purpose. We sent a couple of tracks to the guillotine because they weren’t working, so needed to replace them. I made a quick demo of Axident, which John had never heard before, and most of that original recording ended up on the final track. I was with the image of emotional baggage being almost corporeal and bloody, a situation where you thought you’d moved on but clearly you’re still wearing the effects and feeling weirdly culpable about it.

Your new album An Alien Invaded The Circus comes out on April 6th. However you are doing a live stream on April 1st (“April Fish Day”) to give people an advanced listen. Was that release date centered around that date particularly or did it just work out that way?

Yup! We like to do something to acknowledge April Fish day each year so it seemed like a perfect time to release an album!

What can people expect from the live stream?

John and I with bandmates from our other band, The Klaus Vermillion Quartet (also featured on the album) will play the full album, chatting between each track. There will be stories and terrible puns. We have invited Klaus himself so maybe this time he’ll actually show up.

I have listened to your new album. I don’t really know to describe it. It seems heavier than your previous release Blurred. What has the process been like from Blurred to An Alien Invaded The Circus?

Thank you so much for listening, time is precious so I appreciate that a lot! With ‘Blurred’ we were new to the process of making an album. It was also made in a pretty short space of time so I did the best I could with the limited time and experience I had. With ‘An Alien Invaded the Circus’ I knew what I wanted and felt in a better position to make it happen, so I took my time and didn’t hold back.

The album artwork is very interesting. I really love how creative it is. Without giving too much away, where did you get this idea, for the album art, from?

I was interested in the concept of what it takes to be considered an alien, who gets to decide, and what does it mean. In the example of a circus, most audience attendees likely consider the performers to be "alien" but to the circus folk, visitors come in from the outside into their terrain and are the strangers. I wanted to confront people with their own image when they look into the tent, to represent the power of each individual's eye, that we can only judge others from our own sets of experiences and therefore the way we see other people is largely a reflection of how we see ourselves. If you are an alien to me, I might be an alien to you. If I think you are "weird", I'm revealing my own limitations. Sometimes the most curious attraction in a circus is the audience.

You don’t seem to tour with your music other than the occasional local gig. Why is that? Will you tour anytime soon/at all?

I much prefer writing and recording. I’m inspired by certain types of performers and love writing songs to suit other people’s voices, so have been getting into writing for musical theatre and recruiting talented friends to sing in my place wherever possible. Playing live is a lot of fun but I personally don’t have a huge drive to be on stage, necessarily.

What music do you enjoy listening too?

Bent Knee, Fiona Apple, Emilie Autumn, Elliott Smith, Pin Up Went Down, Julie Christmas, Kimbra, Janelle Monáe, The pAper chAse, Jack Off Jill… a mix of zany, growly, authentic, intelligent, and brave.

What is the one thing you want NZ to know about yourself?

I’m on the lookout for opportunities to write for other people. For dark, twisted, quirky musical theatre. To work with people who aren’t afraid to throw themselves into whatever-it-is.

Anything else to add?

I love New Zealand, I love New Zealanders. I dunno, I was suddenly overcome with gratitude for our beautiful small country so there you go!

Thank you for doing this interview with us Katie. I wish you all the best and can’t wait to hear more!

Thank you so much, Shelley!

About April Fish

A name born from the literal translation of the French term for "April Fools (day)", April Fish is pianist/singer-songwriter Katie Morton ably backed by John Costa. The music is a concoction of soundscapes with an artistic freedom that is so left of the middle, it's as if Tim Burton and Kate Bush are in command of the Starship Enterprise as it boldly accompanies Alice down the rabbit hole. Or put simply, to borrow the words of Katie's niece: "It sounds like an alien invading a circus."

In their first full length release they have given birth to a Kiwi album unlike anything you’ve ever heard before.

Part sci-fi jazz melodrama, part cabaret-rock fever dream, Blurred gleefully milks all the musical sacred cows Kiwi artists have traditionally been afraid to, while spawning a unique New Zealand Gothicism. Blurred is at some points space opera, at others an unapologetic insight into New Zealand subculture attitudes towards status quo art; its poignant introspection and need to defy convention.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for April Fish


An Alien Invaded The Circus
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Year: 2013
Type: Album

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