Breaking Through | 5 Questions with Stanley Duke and the Kindred Spirits

Fusing barmy, rhythmic psychedelia with bonafide retro garage-rock energy, the outcome of a tarot card reading and a penchant for the occult inspired Duke's debut EP.
Posted: 6 August 2020 Words: Tom Curtis-Horsfall

FFO: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, King Tuff, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets

The depths of outsider England, engulfed in natural green beauty and a general lack of social contact, tends to be fertile breeding ground for eccentric artists impressed only with impressing themselves. 

Apart departing local heroes Lost Dawn, Cornwall's Stanley Duke found kindred spirits elsewhere, in a quite literal sense considering that's the moniker for his latest outfit. Isolating and social distancing is fairly common practice in the quaint coastal town of Falmouth, so lockdown provided an ample excuse to hunker down and write, record, and self-produce his impending EP Isolation Tarot.

Clearly influenced by the reverb-drenched howls 'n' yowls we've come to know, love, and expect from John Dwyer's Thee Oh Sees/Oh Sees/OSees' peerless output, Duke fuses barmy, rhythmic psychedelia with bonafide retro garage-rock swagger, tarot cards, flamboyant costume, and a penchant for the occult all forming his carefully cultivated mise en scène.

We caught up with Duke ahead of the release of his debut EP:

What first got you into music?

When I was 13 I got my first electric guitar. My mum decided I should listen to some 'real music' so she bought me compilation CDs of Led Zeppelin, Cream, and Hendrix, and forced me to watch Woodstock. I think seeing Hendrix in that film is what really blew my mind, and opened me up to music.

How would you describe your creative process in terms of writing/recording?

I tend to record as I write. I don’t usually have a whole song written on guitar or something, I’ll record a riff or chord structure, then program some drums and flesh out that part of the song with other instruments a little, then I’ll think what could come out of or into that. Once I’ve got a bunch of sections I like I’ll chop and change them into a structure and then work either side of that, adding instrumentation as I go. Usually I’ll have a concept of what the song is about which helps to consolidate a vibe, for instance each song on the EP I’ll be releasing soon is based on psychic readings of randomly chosen Tarot cards.

What is your favourite song to perform?

At the moment, as a band we haven’t played any of the songs from this upcoming EP, so I’d have to go with a song called 'Blue Bloom', which is also currently unreleased. It has a lot of groove and a kind of creepiness about it, and a massive fuzz guitar section toward the end which we stretch out when performing it live.

If you could open a show for any artist, who would it be and why?

I’d absolutely love to open for King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Those guys have such massive energy live and creatively they’re just out of this world. I’m genuinely unaware of anyone else who’s making anything as eclectic as they are in the world of psychedelia, of that caliber at least.

How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?

I think it’s become easier to consume. You have basically anything you want at the click of a mouse. It makes it possible to discover hundreds of bands who might not have had the chance before, because a lot of the music gatekeeping by A&R and 'big business' types is somewhat gone and artists can be a lot more DIY with their releases. It’s also great for keeping in touch with your fanbase and even just building one organically. Having said that, it’s also kind of a tragedy when it comes to artists getting paid what they deserve. I know people in bands who have such a huge dedicated fanbase and yet they still have to work other jobs to get by. I feel like if their music was being paid for properly by the people at Spotify by example, they might have a better quality of life and be able to focus more on creating quality music 24/7. It’s a double-edged sword.

Isolation Tarot is out later this year.

More from buzz