Lisa Dowling – Photo credit: Tasja Keetman

5 Questions to Lisa Dowling (bassist/vocalist/songwriter) about Kills to Kisses

We had already met bassist, vocalist, and songwriter Lisa Dowling (currently on the cover of Issue 11 of our Magazine) but were nonetheless excited to hear about Kills to Kisses, her solo project. The release of her first video single (also available for oad) was a great opportunity to talk to her.

What is Kills to Kisses?

kills to kisses is my alter-ego and the name of my electronic art-rock bass/vocal/looping project. She is a character I created about a year and a half ago out of a need to have a more specific space for my own musical experiments in song writing that were different from my other projects. What began as an exploration into my identity as a bassist evolved to explore my identity as a composer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and most importantly, a woman who creates. Creating a character provided a safe space for me dig deeper into my own vulnerabilities, strengths, weaknesses and sensuality.

Did you feel that there were certain things you were not able to express in your other musical channels?

Yes. For one thing, I needed something that was just for myself. As a freelancer, I craved something that I could control and that had no time limit, deadline, schedule, limitations, inhibitors – a piece of quiet that allowed room for my own musical murmurings. In a way, writing songs for myself became my own musical therapy. I spent a lot of time writing poetry and singing in choirs when I was younger and I wanted to connect that time in my life with the present. After I graduated, I became interested in how I could write pop based music with contemporary classical techniques, gestures and colors and that challenge excited me. For example, I discovered that if I hit the bass tailpiece with my bow and looped it with a tremolo FX I had the beginnings of a really cool beat. The simplicity of these discoveries were inspiring. What I definitely wasn’t interested in was fulfilling the traditional bass player role in pop and rock music.

Can you tell me more about writing Grey (Lullaby Apocalypse)?

I wrote Grey (Lullaby Apocalypse) at 4am on a Saturday morning after watching Melancholia (Lars Von Trier) and Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky). I wasn’t necessarily depressed or trying to torture myself and I don’t think the song reflects that. But I was definitely trying to capture feelings of entropy, decay and the idea of finding beauty in destruction and isolation. I initially wrote it with just a RC-50 looper, however after Domenica Fossati and Owen Weaver (of Concert Black) heard me perform it, they were interested in filling out the sound with their own special flavors. Their encouragement was the impetus behind gearing my music towards a more rock-inspired aesthetic. When I recorded it, I used a RC-300 looper and a Boss Bass-FX pedal and that’s what I use to perform it live, along with a drummer and a flutist.

What about working with a director and an aerialist on your video?

I didn’t want to create a traditional music video for Grey. For one, it’s a long song and two, it’s very cinematic. I had worked with Dana (Abrassart—the aerialist) on a different project before and was immediately attracted to the fluidity, strength, and sensuality of her movements. I had seen the director, Alejandro Fargosonini, direct a short black-and-white of Dana emerging from a bath tub with chains, as opposed to silks, and knew immediately that I wanted them to help me make a film that played with reality, gender, color, and darkness.

Will people get to see Kills to Kisses live?

Yes! I’m working on finding a venue for my CD release (June 5). Details will be posted on my website soon:

The full album, lullaby apocalypse, will be released by Gold Bolus Recordings in May.