The music scene in Glasgow is always buzzing. There is a certain boisterousness that encompasses the underlying soul from rock n roll bars to techno nightclubs, the only way to fully understand this is to experience it in some capacity. What particularly makes Glasgow special is the raw musical talent that exists hidden within the city walls, one artist that has caught the attention of a few folk is Kris Mitchell with his self-described musical love child The Lost Tapes. His debut album which was released 13th March 2020 is called Black Moon Motel – it is a fuzz-fuelled gem of a record that turns your head and begs the question ‘’Who is this guy and how did he lose his tapes?’’. Well that’s exactly what happened to me a few months ago when my big cousin shared a Spotify link of the album, all I knew at that time was that this great piece of work by a mysterious guy in Glasgow had apparently been recorded and produced by himself in his bedroom.
To find out a bit more info I fired some questions his way and very graciously he did indeed answer, here's how it went…
Q: Kris Mitchell, you produced ‘Black Moon Motel’ all by yourself, do you prefer to work alone and does it help with the creative process in your opinion?
A: There’s good and bad points to both, having someone to bounce ideas off of helps but you have to really be in tune vision-wise with that person for it to really work, or at least have a producer who understands the craft of song writing really well. Also, the workload being shared is nice but for me personally, I enjoy working alone as I have the time to flesh out the ideas and selfishly get to aim for what I hear in my head. I am not against the idea of working with someone in the future or collaborating but more than likely just someone in a producer capacity to make sure I am not straying too far from the original idea.
Q: Are you planning on playing any live shows as The Lost Tapes, if so, would you do it alone or with a band?
A: Hopefully one day I will but as of right now I have no plans to. Doing this all myself I’m already spread quite thin time wise and figuring out how to even perform this on stage let alone the practice it racks my head. I would rather just concentrate on making more music at the moment and if anyone wants to pay me money to play or go on tour then maybe I’ll happily reconsider, but as of right now creating music seems like a more beneficial use of my time. As to playing with a band I’m definitely open to it but the more likely scenario is me performing it by myself or just one to two others utilising loops. I’ll just play this by ear.
Q: How long have you been recording music in general, are you professionally trained?
A: Around ten years, I started dabbling with recording then and I slowly became more into it when I realised how much more personality I could add to the music by recording and mixing it myself. I went to college for a couple of years to study music, but it wasn’t that high a level. I learned more from just messing around with it.
Q: Favourite Fuzz pedal(s) and why?
A: Probably just the big muff as it’s the only one I have left haha. I’ve had a few in the past but i always came back to the muff. Would like to get my hands on a few more soon though.
Q: What kind of Electric Guitar(s) were you using on the album?
A: A Jazzmaster and a Harmony, I got the Harmony halfway through recording so probably more Jazzmaster on the record. They have quite different sounds so depending on the song I will change it up.
Q: What are your biggest musical influences?
A: Well Bob Dylan made me want to write songs, so he is a big influence along with the other 60s songwriters; The Beatles, The Kinks etc. These days though I normally get more excited by the sound of the record than the songs themselves. I heard the parcels not that long ago and their musicianship really blew me away.
Q: How do you like to keep busy aside from making music?
A: Music keeps me busy enough, really don’t have time to do much else. I work part time jobs to help pay rent so that takes up time but other than that and music the only other thing would be watching films, I love the escape aspect of a good film. Films and good TV shows probably influence me as much as music does, as I like to picture landscapes when recording song, to try and create the world in which the song lives. I feel like they both enhance one another’s experience.
Q: What was your driving motivation in creating ’Black Moon Motel’, do you feel you achieved what you set out?
A: I just really wanted to have an album out there and to that end I definitely achieved it haha but I’m still chasing that elusive sound, I suppose most artists feel that but I believe I’m only just beginning to get close to it and the first album was just the first step. The creating of the album helped me understand the process and what’s involved, and it was a huge learning experience. It made me more enthusiastic about what could be achieved next time around.
Q: Are you involved in any other music projects we should know about?
A: No not at the moment, as I said this takes up all my time so I’m trying to decrease other activities if anything. I’m working on the next batch of songs for The Lost Tapes though.
Q: Do you believe Bob Lazar?
A: Haha good question, I know that I know nothing..
Listening to each track you can hear snippets of influences from such guitar driven rock bands as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Kasabian and The Black Keys which combined with Mitchell’s own endearing vocals produces a sincere ensemble of music that is an interesting journey into his originality. The album is well crafted in all the right areas and Mitchell sets a tone that is consistent throughout, the song ‘Witchita’ is an excellent way to get things started – the song literally gets your blood pumping with a deep distorted bass line and pumping drum track. Following up from this is ‘Retrograde’ which begins with a low frequency fuzzed up guitar before the drums and high-end tremolo guitar commence to set the groove of what you realise is The Lost Tapes signature sound.
Track 4, ‘Been Here Before’ starts a little less heavy than the first two songs but maintains the same vibe which has been established and what I like about this song is the hypnotic whistling solo after the first verse which wouldn’t be out of place in the next Tarantino film, the guitar solo brings everything together in what amasses as a classic with a fulfilling catchy chorus. ‘Guess You Want Lies’ has a snappy guitar intro, from this point you begin to see Mitchell’s song writing formula in all its glory – he will begin with a fairly simple guitar part then bring in drums & bass quickly, finally the fuzzy-tremolo lead guitar grabs you to where he wants you to go. I like the way which he uses his lead guitar parts to return to similar themes which are consistent throughout the album in its entirety.
Track 6, ‘Reverence’ is a drop in pace where we have a real chance to hear Mitchell slowly build up the song starting with a dreading guitar followed with percussion and a washboard sequence that continues dramatically until 3:48 minutes where the song’s climactic guitar solo brings the track to a satisfying cadence. Next up on Black Moon Motel is track 7 called ‘Your Shoes’, it is a slightly goth-pop style tune that features some fantastic guitar work from Mitchell – it shows versatility in terms of his song writing styles and genres. This style continues into ‘Don’t Know Better’ which is pleasantly accompanied with some great vocal harmonies. Track 9, ‘Hot Swapping’ brings us back to Mitchell’s signature fuzz and vocal combination which I believe makes this album what it is – particularly with return of the now blatant classic Lost Tapes tremolo guitar solo. What is great about Hot Swapping is the head bopping groove that just sounds so cool that you immediately are engrossed in the world that is Black Moon Motel.
We are then taken in another direction of Mitchell’s style with ‘Pay it Forward’ which develops at its own pace, before you know it there are a combination of instruments melodically entwined that release the vocals into a wonderful blend - there is a lot going on in this song but each individual part is well placed. The longest song on the album by a country mile is track 11 ‘Lost in the Shuffle’. Boasting a sublime 10:40 minutes we are treated to crunchy guitar sections accompanied with a low-driven bass and thumping drums. Next up is ‘Livewire’ which contains some lovely backing vocals and solid guitar accompaniment, it is another drop in pace which follows nicely to the final song on the album ‘Check Out’ that has a real uplifting Bob Dylan vibe and sums up what is in my opinion an extremely accomplished album. Black Moon Motel is a compelling adventure that contains dark and wonderful themes, as a debut album I can only predict exceptional material to follow from The Lost Tapes.