Luke Temple, the indie troubadour best known for his work in the band Here We Go Magic, had long been a staple on Domino Kirke’s playlists. But what Kirke hadn’t realized was that she knew his face just as well as she did his voice.
“I met Luke through friends in the neighborhood,” says Kirke. “I was always a fan of his music, but I didn’t realize that familiar face in my neighborhood was the same Luke Temple I had on my iPod.”
After the pair met through mutual friends, Temple came to see Kirke play at Williamsburg’s Knitting Factory and mentioned that he was interested in featuring a female vocalist on some of his tracks. That marked the beginning of their partnership and the first step in creating their new EP, Independent Channel, out May 26.
The ethereal, easy-to-dance-to, four-song EP marries Kirke’s bluesy vocals and haunting melodies with Temple’s heavy beats—but getting to that smooth sound wasn’t a simple process.
“Because we were friends, I thought it would be easy to show up at his apartment and start writing songs, but when we sat down, I froze,” says Kirke, who admits that Temple’s songwriting has been a huge inspiration to her for years. “He handed me a few Time Warner Cable bills lying around and I started singing the words on them.” That was the day the track “Ordinary World,” was born. As for their process, Kirke says she added her vocal melodies to the song structures that Temple had already created. “I wanted the songs to feel more spacious and have more room for interpretation,” she explains. “I wanted this EP to be memorable and the melodies to be catchy, but I also wanted to let it fade into the background and let people nod their head.”
There’s “Son,” which was inspired by Kirke’s experiences with motherhood, followed by “Birth Right,” a nod to Kirke’s life as a birth coach (she launched the doula service Carriage House Birth). Yet Kirke has a soft spot for “Ordinary World.” “It was the most fun we had while recording,” she says.
There’s no doubt creativity runs in Kirke’s blood. Her father, Simon, was the drummer for rock bands Free and Bad Company, her mother, Lorraine, runs the beloved Manhattan boutique Geminola and her sisters are the actresses Jemima Kirke (HBO’s Girls) and Lola Kirke (Gone Girl, The Leftovers, Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle). Kirke studied classical voice and piano at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art, sang in choirs, signed her first record deal as a teenager and has worked with Grammy-winning producer Mark Ronson. Even with this long-term relationship with music, her experience recording with Temple has been a one-of-a-kind collaboration. “I knew I had something to offer with my pretty vocal melodies and noticed that Luke’s beats were very complementary,” says Kirke. “It was a cool blend of masculine and feminine—it just worked.”