Kane Strang discusses leaving his home in New Zealand as a teen, touring America for the first time, and his new record, Two Hearts And No Brain, released by Dead Oceans.
You grew up in Dunedin, New Zealand which seems to be a place known for having a large number of colleges and students living there. What was it like growing up within the culture of Dunedin and how did you get into music?
Dunedin was a cool place to grow up. It’s really beautiful and there are definitely a lot of creative people hanging around here. I got into music properly in high school mostly because of what my friends were up to and because my dad played in bands.
What were your earliest memories going to shows or playing around town? Was there a rich music culture with plenty of opportunities to practice and perform with other kids your age? What type of tunes were you into early in your music-making career?
Apart from lunch time concerts at school, my first gigs were a part of something called the Chick’s Project. It was a thing run by the council here where you’d tour Dunedin with other young bands, playing all ages shows to kids and mums and dads. It was a really good experience. After that I started playing solo at this little alley way bar called Mou Very heaps.
You moved to Germany as a teenager. Was this move done solo or did you have friends or family there? What made you choose Germany? How did the transition impact the Kane Strang writing and recordings?
I actually went with my friend Rassani who is now the bass player in my band. We had a friend there who had been an exchange student at my high school and, seeings as we both didn’t really know what we wanted to do after school, we decided to go visit him. I think that was where I really started writing heaps, probably because I was super homesick a lot of the time.
You're record Two Hearts And No Brain is out today on Dead Oceans. For your second record, what was different in the writing or recording process from your first album?
I collaborated with my band for the first time which was nice. We wrote about three songs together and I wrote the rest pretty much straight after I self released Blue Cheese on Bandcamp. The recording process was very different for me because I did it in a studio with a producer for the first time.
Your debut record, Blue Cheese, came out last year and really impressed us as an introduction to your music. Two Hearts showcases an impressive improvement in production and songwriting. Is this a product of time and effort enhancing your processes or a change in influences since the last record?
It’s definitely more a product of time and effort. Even though Blue Cheese came out officially last year, that album is probably 3 years old for me and I’ve learned a lot of stuff in that time.
What do you do to inspire creativity? Is songwriting something you are constantly occupied with or does it come in phases?
It comes in phases… I’m usually best at writing straight after I finish an album because I’m desperate for a break from whatever it was I was working on.
You played a string of US tour dates including a stop at SXSW. For you, how is playing in the US different from New Zealand and Europe? Do you enjoy the touring lifestyle?
It’s obviously really exhausting but I enjoy it most of the time. You kind of get on a bit of a roll after a week or so and I’ve started to like all the problem solving that touring involves lately. I also get to do it with my best friends from Dunedin so that helps.
The US was definitely more intense for us because we were playing way more shows in a row and didn’t have a tour manager. With Europe we were just doing the main centers and had more off days which was nice.
Your single "Hypochondria" was featured in The Secretly Group's Our First 100 Days project. How did you decide on the song you featured? How do you feel it represents the vision of the project?
The song wasn’t written specifically for the project, it was actually something I planned to put on Two Hearts until Steven I decided it didn’t fit on the record. I recorded it quickly myself one afternoon when Our First Hundred Days approached me because I really wanted to be a part of something that was doing so much good.