What are your names?
Shaleph O’Neill (Pronounced Shay-leff)
What is the bands name?
How did you come up with the bands name?
We had a list as long as your arm and just couldn’t find anything we liked. Then we were talking about Buffalo 66 as a name (great film), and this sparked a discussion about Buffalo Jumps, specifically a jump called “Smashed Head-In Buffalo Jump” which is in Canada (Michael is Canadian). Buffalo jumps are basically cliffs that the First Nation people of North America used to use to drive buffalo over as a way to hunt them. Anyway, we liked the dual meaning of Buffalo Jump, but thought Smashed Head-In, was a bit extreme. This led to a google search for the names of other buffalo jumps. During that search we came across the phenomenon of Desert Kites, which are a kind of equivalent hunting device used by the neolithic peoples of the Middle East/South West Asia. They were first discovered sometime around the 1920s as people started flying over the deserts. At first nobody knew what these huge, beautiful, mysterious structures were for. It was only later they discovered they had a darker purpose. Again, we liked the dual meaning of the name. The beauty and the terror. Life and Death.
What is your genre of music?
Rock, Alt-Rock, Grunge, Pop Punk? I guess we take a little bit of something from everywhere. Melody and harmony are really important to us, alongside heavy guitars, bass and drums.
Give us a little bio about you?
Desert Kites are an alternative rock band from Dundee. Their songs are heavily influenced by 90s grunge and indie rock in terms of sonic quality, but there is a dash of shoegaze and a definite nod to classic and prog rock along the way. Their songs reflect the lives they’ve led. Sometimes angry, sometimes sad, sometimes indifferent always poetic. They prefer imagery over narrative, creating lyrical montages that provide askance views into the human experience all wrapped up in solid melodic structures.
What made you go into music?
Shaleph: I couldn’t stop it if I tried. Although, in fact I did, for a long time. But, in the last few years though I’ve just had a real need to create music with my guitar again. I’ve always been doing something musical be it rock bands, minimal dance music, experimental electronica.
Michael: Noticing a drum kit in the basement at my cousins house, and then I think seeing my dad get behind that kit and play. This was probably one of the first recollections of me having an interest and fascination to play music more specifically learning how to play the drums.
Who are your influences?
Shaleph: Pretty much anything with a heavy guitar riff. Start at The Who and end somewhere just beyond Metallica, with a huge detour into the 4AD and Sub Pop back catalogue.
Michael: Punk and hardcore music is always at core of my influences. Specifically drummers like Atom Willard, Andy Outbreak, Bill Stevenson, Adam Carson and Jeff Nelson. When I write drum parts, I tend to keep these influences close to the heart of what comes out in the songs.
Are you signed?
Shaleph: Nope, and I’m not sure we ever want to be. Would be an interesting conversation to have though.
You released your new single “Restless Mind”, tell us more about the single and meaning behind the song?
Shaleph: I lost my father years ago, when I was 19, (a couple of months before I turned 20). It was a crucial time in my life, emerging from difficult teenage years, into young adulthood. I no longer had a father figure in my life to show me the way. I’d left home at 17 to go to Art School and was finding it really difficult. I had to return home to be there for my mum and my brother who was 16. This song came out of me re-examining that part of my life. Before I knew it, I’d written this song to my dad telling him about what it was like to lose him. It wasn’t really intentional. I had a riff and the words just came, as they often do, when I was messing about playing the riff in the kitchen one morning, while my wife and kids were still asleep.
Describe the track in words.
Shaleph: Melancholic but uplifting. Triumph over adversity. A celebration of doing your own thing.
Michael: Coming-of-age story. A drive to find oneself in an ever changing environment.
What was the writing process like?
Shaleph: I took it to rehearsal with Michael and within the space of a few hours the song was completed. We played around with some different structures for a few weeks and then went into preproduction and recording, where we worked on backing vocals and the addition of brass to really lift the last chorus. It was a pretty quick writing process.
Michael: Yeah, I thought the writing process was was pretty quick for this track. As Shaleph brought the song to rehearsal and started to play me the chords, I got such a spark and a wave of emotion was what was being played. It gave me inspiration for writing a drum part, which did come to me instantly. Sometimes these things take a bit longer, enough to be refined and digested and rewritten but this just felt like when it was written and worked for the song. At least from my perspective, everything fell into place perfectly and where is solidified right then and there.
Who did you work with on the single?
Shaleph: Stuart Hanna, who runs S2K in Dundee, where we practice, is also an excellent recording engineer with some great facilities. We have worked with him extensively on all our tracks. He’s effectively our George Martin (like our 5th Beatle). He records us, plays bass guitar, helps us produce the sound, mixes and masters everything. He’s an absolute diamond. We wouldn’t be doing any of this without his input.
Will we see a music [video?] for “Restless Minds”, if so tell us about the creative process from the planning to the shooting.
Shaleph: There will be snippets of video for social media but nothing beyond that. We don’t have the facilities, time or energy to create video as well as music. It might be different if we were signed, but we’re literally a two-man band, there are limits to what we can do.
Can we expect an EP or an Album and if so, what can we expect from it.
Well, we’ve got quite a few tracks piling up in the background now. We’ve released three and there are four more ready to go. We’ve also got another three written and we will be recording them of the next 3-4 months. We’ve not decided quite what to do yet, but more tracks will be released in due course for sure.
Do you have any shows coming up?
Yes, we’re playing Bannermans in Edinburgh on Wednesday 31st May, and then we’re doing a live session on CamGlen Radio on 19th June. There’s more in the pipeline too, just not confirmed yet.
Let us know where we can get tickets if so.
We’ll probably put a link up on our Facebook page.
What else can we expect in early 2023?
Our next single is a belter, look out for that towards the end of June.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Making music, more often for more people, hopefully.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
Shaleph: “Never judge a book by its cover, judge it by how far you can throw it.”
Michael: “If I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution”
When you are at a gig what are 5 things you cannot forget?
Energy, atmosphere and sing along choruses.
Do you have social media for fans to follow you?
All links here