Kit Haigh (Music)

panta rei dans lullaby

Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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by Neil Nisbet

Kit Haigh is a musician who wears many hats. On the one hand he is a guitarist with the Gasoline Allstars, which he describes casually as ‘just a rock band’ and on the other hand he is a composer for critically acclaimed and Emmy Award winning documentaries such as the Channel4 featured ‘The Boy Who’s Skin Fell Off’. Kit’s surgically attached third hand is concerned with being a sound designer and composer for an interactive dance project covered elsewhere on Article19 called Closer in collaboration with partner Amanda Drago.

Kit’s online biography indicates a penchant for 60’s classic cars (or a number 68 World War II plane, we’re not sure), that get stolen and thrown in the river, wine gums are a vice (very rock and roll) and, if it really came down to it, sharing a bed with Kylie Minogue would win out over getting between the sheets with Nick Cave (good choice! Ed)

Like many who enter the music business his early years were spent surrounded by music in a household where everybody was making one kind of noise or another;

“Both of my parents were music teachers and we had two pianos in the house, and I had two brothers and a sister and everybody was making different noises in different rooms. I never really had a proper job, I got in a band and signed a record deal straight from school.”

Surviving the resulting cacophony of his early years he presently plays with the Gasoline Allstars within which his principle weapon of choice is the guitar and true to his words it’s a good old fashioned, smoke filled bar, road trip at sunset, rock band but his musical skills do not stop with the plectrum and Marshall amplifiers;

“I play anything, the one thing I put my hand up and say I am really good at is old school rock guitar but everything else [I do] is really just about trusting your ears and having a sensibility about [the sound]. The film I’m doing at the moment, which is Ian Cottages new film, for example, I’m using an African thumb piano and a 50p plastic Ocarina.

These are things that I can’t particularly play but you have a quality control. There’s something about working on your own that allows you to do that. I’m not the worlds greatest communicator but if I work on my own, playing a cheap instrument, there might be certain notes that sound weird or just aren't in tune and you learn to avoid those and that forces you in a certain direction. You can play with that [method] and just make something good happen.”


Happy Accident

Making it happen by happy accident is the preferred creative method. We always hear of bands and composers going on hiatus for five years to get their creations together but Kit prefers the element of play, harnessing todays computer recording technology to keep the creative process as flexible as possible. Thrashing out sounds and pieces of music and recording the whole lot so he can go back to it later as and when required.

“Most of the stuff that I’m happiest with has been recorded as I’m making it up. So one thing that I can do, now that I use a computer like a tape machine, is to chop things up a lot more easily afterwards. There was one thing that I did where I borrowed a really nice grand piano for an hour and just hit record and played.

I pulled things from that improvisation and developed them using the technology. The original plan was to do that and then go back a re-record the proper performance but there wasn’t time and we were stuck with the edited version but there is nothing wrong with it.”

Technology plays a big part but actual instruments are always the first port of call if circumstances permit;

“I do try to use real instruments if possible because you can always get a sample of these things but it’s not the same, I really like the organic movement of notes rather than just making them pristine.”

The many musical hats worn by this particular music maker work as both an antidote and a counterpoint to one another. Whilst making music for television and film can have no boundaries and the creative possibilities appear endless Kit is quick to admit that the deadlines and pressure can take some of the edge of musical creation.

This is where the band comes in because “you do things in your own time, turn everything up to a level and let rip, you’re desperate to do that sometimes”.

Biggest Challenge

One of Kit’s most challenging projects was composing the music for the Channel 4 documentary ‘The Boy Whos Skin Fell Off’. Directed by Patrick Collerton, the one off programme dealt with the last months of the life of Jonny Kennedy who suffered from the gentic condition Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa. Of that creative process kit says;

“First and foremost it’s a discussion with the director. You could have made the documentary in all sorts of different ways and what Patrick was very clear on, which I thought was bang on, was not to go down the road of milking the audience for every tear they had in them, that would have been really the opposite of what Jonny would have wanted and in a way the approach with that film was walking a tightrope between playing down the tragedy of it and brining out his [Jonny’s] strength and making it quite matter of fact without belittling or trivialising what he was doing.

By not milking it the emotional impact was much more real.”

The very near future brings composition work for two films, both as yet untitled, one by Ian Cottage and another documentary by Patrick Collerton and continued development of the Closer project.

Check out the Gasoline Allstars website for some full length tracks of their stuff and compare them to the altogether more restrained acoustic tones of Moonlight Waltz and Kaleidoscope, a track used in the Closer project that we feature here for your enjoyment.

[ Gasoline Allstars ]
[ Boy Whos Skin Fell Off ]

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