INTERVIEW: Komparrison | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Komparrison seek to represent the experiences of Northern women. What started out as a two-piece using their music as therapy has developed into a quintet of high energy, poppy indie that seeks to relate and rile you up. Made up of Elise Harrison, Kaitlyn Kempen, Jessica Chilton, Ellie Neill and Elliot Smith, I spoke to them just after their soundcheck outside Newcastle’s Head of Steam, amidst the crowds of people kick-starting their Saturday nights. “When we first started writing songs they were more just therapy for Elise’s tragic love life,” Kaitlyn quips against the backdrop of Elise’s laughter, “but now we’re moving in the direction of writing about important things, issues young women face.”

They do so in a way that is uplifting and fun. Even in the lyrically negative moments you never want to sit and ponder, instead the feeling dictates that these thoughts should be celebrated: “Women can relate to the things we sing about, all women go through the same trials and tribulations,” laments Elise, with Ellie adding “we want to write about situations people can relate to but, also, can boogie to.”

The band’s latest release was a much-anticipated EP, You Say She’s Satisfied, and the tunes encapsulate the collective feelings that come with relationships, anger and desire. And Again sees Elise and Kaitlyn repetitively harmonise over the line “you’re only in love with yourself”, and the double vocal comes into its own. Empowering and reassuring, the lyrics are reinforced by friendship and shared experience. Elise says that she couldn’t do it without Kaitlyn, and Kaitlyn responds: “we back each other up on stage and in life.”

Embracing their angst and dealing with feelings head-on seems to always have been at the forefront of Komparrison; however, presenting as they do, they’ve found it hard to shake expectations and, later, categorisation. “There’s always someone who thinks they’re going to hear some Taylor Swift when we walk on to the stage,” jokes Kaitlyn, whilst Jess conveys the adamancy of Komparrison’s fluid and unrestrained approach: “We can be girly and nice, but we can also be loud and messy; we can be anything.”

Talking of the early days, Elise laments the tendency for bands to be constrained to genres and what two young girls should be trying to achieve: “We were put into a category all the time and told we needed to play the songs that people want to hear. We hated the box we were put in because we looked a certain way. In reality, we treat every song differently; every song needs its own respect.”

Komparrison slots in nicely with the tradition of loud and unapologetic Northern women

And so, Komparrison slots in nicely with the tradition of loud and unapologetic Northern women. They know their noise should be celebrated and it just so happens that the more noise Komparrison makes, the better they sound, concluding in their punk-esque tune Loose Lips, if you don’t like it just “don’t date me.” “There is a scene up here for female alternative acts,” Kaitlyn comments. “When we were growing up where was that female voice in the music industry? There were the pop princesses, or however you want to categorise it, but calling them pop princesses now seems a bit ridiculous,” adds Elise. “Avril Lavigne walked so Komparrison could run,” jokes Kaitlyn. 

However, this doesn’t stop the band from confronting their softer side. Their song Repeat deals with a soulful and contemplative nuance, and, as they all joke, this is very much in line with the way they listen and write music. “I could be listening to Slipknot at 9am and Beethoven by dinner,” reflects Kaitlyn. 

We just play what we like,” says Jess. Elise rationalises their restraint from ever being boxed within the bounds of categorisation again, even in terms of genre: “There are so many genres, so why not utilise them all? Why not try and use every bit of music we like?” With their latest EP, they wanted to encapsulate the many genres that make up Komparrison’s unique sound, in fact, their wide and varied listening is what produced a boiling point of genres in the first place. “The EP is not like turning a page in a book, each song is an individual story in its own right. You have to listen to the whole thing to grasp us,” concludes Kaitlyn. 

Komparrison’s listeners are at the heart of everything we talk about. The crowd’s emotion and their reaction towards the songs and performance are colossal. “We always want to break the fourth wall. It’s never just people watching a gig, it’s the people who fuel it and keep us having a mint gig,” says Kaitlyn. What’s more, they don’t prioritise perfection either. Elliot expands: “We could play every note perfectly, but that’s nothing without a good crowd – that comes from a different place.”

The conversation comes back to being Northern and trying to navigate artistry from such a polarised but infinitely loved place. “Manchester, London, Liverpool – they’ve all had their time and now it’s ours,” demands Elliot. They Say She’s Satisfied was the first vinyl to be made by the North East’s first vinyl pressing company, Press On Vinyl, and the whole process has been special for them, reminding them of what can be created in the region if given the chance. “Pressing vinyl in the North East allows a magnifying glass over what we can do. It’s not for personal gain, but for every musician up here,” concludes Elise. 

You Say She’s Satisfied by Komparrison is out now. The band play The Green Room stage at Stockton Calling on Saturday 16th April.


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