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KT Laine Contemplates All the Possibilities on “Again”

The Montreal-based songwriter's new video expresses the hesitation behind hard decisions.

by Leslie Ken Chu

Photo by Sierra Nicholson

KT Laine embodies contrasts. Balancing grace and grit accentuated through vintage recording equipment, her music exists in a middle space that leaves you slightly too unnerved to fully sink in your seat. But that’s what gives her music its vitality. The recent Montreal transplant’s catchy mid-tempo rock songs take their time, letting all the feels slowly seep in. That aloofness plays out in the video for “Again,” the second single from her debut LP, Knock Knee.

With a voice at once haunting and warm, Laine’s songs have plenty of space to breath, which sounds exactly like what the characters in “Again,” a couple at odds, need. It’s in those quiet, still moments that uncomfortable truths arise, truths like, “Maybe I don’t love the person sleeping next to me anymore.” Laine captures that tableaux lyrically and musically on “Again.” The video shows partygoers barging their way into her home only to listlessly shuffle through the motions of dancing and arguing. The effect is more hypnotizing than jarring, just like the song.

RANGE caught up with Laine to learn more about the video’s concept, life in Montreal, her recent shows with Edmonton’s Marlaena Moore, and more.

Knock Knee was recorded on a Tascam 388 tape machine. Have you had a long love of vintage gear? Does classic equipment hold any sort of special magic to you?

KT Laine: I’ve always loved the way tape sounds. There’s something about old gear that has this fantastic grit and colour to it. I am a lover of old things on all fronts, and I was lucky to have access to a lot of incredible old gear in order to make this record sound the way it does. My producer, Elijah Browning, really worked with me to make the sounds on this record shine through the gear we used.

Were you born and raised in Victoria? When did you move from Victoria to Montreal? 

KL: I’m actually from small town Alberta. I always say I escaped and moved to Edmonton at 17, lived there for five years, and recently spent three years in Victoria. I moved to Montreal in September. I’m fresh.

You wrote the songs on Knock Knee as soon as they came to you. Was your decision to move from Victoria to Montreal equally spur of the moment? Do you know a lot of folks out there already? What was it about Montreal that called to you?

KL: I visited Montreal for the first time in July of this year to play a show with Marlaena Moore, then decided that it’s where I need to be. I know a handful of musicians that live here now, Edmonton and Victoria transplants, and met some folks when I played here in the summer. I attended a handful of shows when I was here and just really felt at home in Montreal already. The community is so great, and the few people I did know were so welcoming. It made sense to make the trek.

You recently played Sled Island and a string of shows with Marlaena Moore in Edmonton, Calgary, Victoria, and Montreal. What were the most important lessons or tips you learned as a musician and performer from those experiences with someone as talented as Marlaena?

KL: I had a blast playing those shows. I call Marlaena my big brother. She’s always been someone I am inspired by and look up to literally and figuratively (she’s 6’2”). I definitely learned how similar our stream of consciousness stage banter is. That run of shows really drove home the interconnectedness of the Canadian music scene, so I guess Marlaena showed me that I already have pals across the country who all know each other some way or another.

I sense a lot of emotions on “Again”: uncertainty, apathy, restlessness, longing. Where was your headspace when you wrote this song?

KL: I was definitely feeling all those things while writing that song. You hit the nail on the head. I wrote this song in the bathtub after my partner at the time left for tour, and we were unsure if we should see each other again. Contemplating all the possibilities, reeling through memories, good and bad.

I like that the line “It’s such a long, long way back home again” can be heard as a desire to reconcile or a reason to give up. Which way do you think the characters in the song ultimately lean?

KL: Definitely both. The song is a bit of a story. I think at the beginning of the song it’s more a sense of longing, but as it progresses, they become more grateful that it’s such a long way home.

I also sense that the characters in the song are going through the motions of a relationship, just as the characters in the video listlessly are going through the motions of a party. Why did you choose to set the video at a party, specifically one with uninvited guests? 

KL: We intended the video to show the same kind of hesitation I was feeling about the relationship the song is written about, but I hadn’t made that exact connection before. Maybe there’s something in there about someone being an uninvited guest in my head, like the guests at the party.

Now that you’ve landed in Montreal, and your debut album is on the way, what’s next? What are you looking forward to the most in the near future?

KL: Hopefully a bunch of shows in Montreal and Toronto. New York? I’m really looking forward to hopping around to different cities for shows and catching bands of pals and heroes.