Music is a family affair for Kitty, Daisy and Lewis

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Music is a family affair for Kitty, Daisy and Lewis


Fri, 15/01/2016 - 12:14


Kitty, Daisy and Lewis in their home-built studio
14 January, 2016

THEY have played to audiences all around the world and sold thousands of albums – and it all sprung from family sing-songs in a house in the back streets of Kentish Town. 

The NW5-based rock and roll band Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, made up of three siblings backed by parents Graeme and Ingrid, are taking to the stage at Koko on February 11 in what is a celebratory homecoming gig after a year that saw them tour both America and the Far East and bring out the highly rated Whenever You See Me album.

Unsurprisingly, music is in the family’s DNA. Father Graeme Durham (pictured), whose family moved from Bombay to London in 1961, came from a background where communal singing was commonplace. 

Graeme Durham in Kelly Street. Father of Kitty, Daisy and Lewis

“I was the youngest of seven children and I like to think I was born the same time as rock and roll,” he says.

His own father, Titus Vaz, had been a railway ticket inspector, and a few years after Indian independence, the family moved to Palmers Green. Graeme became a Londoner just as it began to Swing.

“I grew up in a family that had a musical thing going on,” he says. “My dad played the guitar and my mum played the ukulele. When we were kids, our home was full of music and full of singing. 

“It meant my children also grew up with it. It was something that automatically happened. Some of the best music I have ever heard was during these impromptu sessions.” 

Living in London during the 1960s was also telling. “It was a time of such change – everything was going on,” he recalls. There were these different genres of music, fashion, culture, film co-existing – suddenly music went from rock and roll to soul, Tamla Motown, ska and rock steady, British pop, psychedelia, and there were still the crooners like Engelbert Humperdinck.”

But music wasn’t something Graeme considered as a way to earn a living.

“I wanted to go into medicine, but I became an accountant,” he says.

Number crunching lost its appeal by the mid-70s and Graeme got a job at Island Records in the cutting department, responsible for making master copies of records.

He recalls seeing Bob Marley rehearsing. Of course, he slipped in to listen.

It was while working at Island that he met musician Ingrid Weiss. The pair got together and settled in Kelly Street, Kentish Town. Ingrid, who had been playing in the band The Raincoats, and Graeme had a home full of instruments that they would pick up and bash out tunes on. 

Looking back at the development of the band, Graeme recalls how the family would head to the Golden Lion pub in Royal College Street on Sundays to a session known as “Come Down and Meet The Folks”.

“They would have a main act and then an open mic system,” says Graeme. “We’d pop in – not as musicians, it was just somewhere we could go as a family and listen to music. The kids would sit up the front and watch what the bands were doing. We’d then go home and have a jam ourselves.”

Later, the youngsters would take to the small stage themselves, showing their talents on instruments ranging from guitar to banjo to accordion. 

“By then they had really sharpened up. I remember Kitty doing the song Mean Son of a Gun on the harmonica, and it blew the roof off,” adds Graeme.

The band became a little more formal when Barry Stillwell, who ran the Tapestry Festival in Cornwall and drank in the Golden Lion, booked them to perform in 2003. Kitty was 10.

They were spotted by Resonance FM and cut a single, and the band went on from there.

One of the features of KDL is how the three siblings play different instruments on different tracks. 

“There are three drummers in the band. That’s what makes it so interesting,” says Graeme. “And we are a normal family with normal dynamics We are not like some kind of Kentish Town version of the Osmonds. When we get together to record an LP, it will kick off, there will be arguments and then half an hour later everyone will kiss and make up.”

And they are unfazed by the way they have chosen to earn a living. 

“My children are savvy and have a good bullshit detector,” says Graeme. “Because they grew up making music, they are very grounded. It is just what they do. It does help that they have their family around them. They are straight up and have no truck with music industry nonsense.”

On top of this, they record, mix and engineer their own work in a home-built studio. Lewis has a particular fascination with older recording equipment. His dad describes him as “an uber geek” when it comes to sound engineering. They don’t use digital recording equipment, instead using mixers and microphones from an analogue age. 

“We record at home,” says Graeme. “And we have now sold more than 250,000 albums world wide, all done from our house in Kentish Town.”

 Marjory Durham, and father, Titus Vaz

 Marjory Durham, and father, Titus Vaz.

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