It’s a name that grabs you immediately, not least because it takes a little bit of research to get right. Kʒːlu, pronounced the same way as the word ‘curlew’, is the solo project of West-Cork based songwriter and composer Patrick Hatchett, his first one-man foray into music beyond his steady commission work in film and television.
With the project’s eponymous debut album, he looks at the dual lives he’s led, via a stew of different influences derived from his experience as a musician, exploring the hustle and bustle of working in various bands in London, from afrobeat to jazz, and the relative quiet and solitude of living in West Cork. He talks about that journey, and the significance of the curlew to his life in his adopted home.
“It kind of charts my journey from one life, the city mouse, as it were, to the country mouse; leaving a lot of my previous life, lots of gigs, parties and work, to something more isolated and reflective in nature. A little bit of an ode to people and places and cultures, with a little bit of the new, which the curlew represents - a little bit of a pause, but also occupying a space, whether in a party or other situation, where you go, ‘I can’t believe the fun I’m having, this is so lovely.’ Just trying to find that in other places, really, outside of the gigging situation.”
Leadoff AA-side single (an uncommon occurrence nowadays) ‘Luciferin/Ridgewood’ displays two different ends of that distinct creative spectrum and lived experience, veering from the former’s slow-building anticipation and resolution, to the ‘uneasy listening’ vibes of the latter. Hatchett discusses their significance in the context of the long-player, and how they exist as a standalone work.
“‘Luciferin’ establishes a more joyous elation, and a bit more of a fun element. ‘Ridgewood’ is the bookend to that. It’s a slightly wonky, slightly feelgood, Sunday thing, slightly more reflective. It’s pretty positive... There’s not a lot of tracks on the album, but they have a lot happening within them, so these bookend it quite nicely.”
The singles are out ahead of the March release of the album, which, introversion aside, also features a rich vein of collaborations and guest appearances. UK Bengali musician Idris Rahman features on flute, The Gloaming man Seán Mac Erlaine appears on bass clarinet, and The Vespertine Quartet’s Justin Grounds contributes violins: in bringing the album together, Hatchett balanced the personal and the collaborative.
“I’ve only ever really recorded and played in groups with lots of people, I’ve never finished anything solo. I didn’t really get anyone onboard until I did that track with Idris, in the first lockdown. We still had some energy to crack on with something at that point (chuckles). Apart from that, everything else I did myself. We all worked remotely, and I scribbled out the parts for Seán to play. Having made records with other people and been part of that process, I really enjoyed doing it all myself (laughs). Just having total freedom, which is not something I’ve had before.”
In these pages over the past year, we’ve spoken to a wide range of artists about the way forward they’ve taken, be they existing artists or lockdown projects, and we’ve seen that it’s difficult, but not impossible, to get an album out there in the current circumstances. Hatchett’s seen it as a set of circumstances in which to do something he’d long wanted to do, and put it into the world.
“Despite being a working musician for years, I’m the most reluctant performer you’ll ever come across. If you ask me where I’m standing on stage, I’ll dive behind the bass cab! So, when I sent this off to a few people, they asked, ‘do you have a band for this?’. Promoters and venues, streaming gigs, and I was like, ‘no’. I’m not going to find a band, I’d need a lot of people, and a lot of money to pay them. Not being able to entertain that has been quite nice!”
The crisis has taken its toll, but as we’ve also explored over the last while, the uncertainty of it also brings talk of change, as the arts scene around the county faces the task of rebuilding after the crisis. Living in a hotbed of art as he does, Hatchett chips in on the discussion with his own post-pandemic wishlist.
“We have to look at how we’re going to pay artists. This crisis has highlighted who’s not being looked after in society, and globally. A lot of my musician friends in England have just had the worst time of it, even compared to Ireland, where there’s been some light for some musicians, and more support. Some universal acceptance of the value of the arts. Now more than ever, we need to pay that more attention. How it manifests itself, I don’t know, but we need to.”
While the intricacies of the Kʒːlu project mean that a live gig or regular schedule of same would be something of an undertaking, Hatchett is hopeful of future stage excursions, scaling up from the usual small-venue setup via fundraising for a theatrical presentation. Otherwise, for Hatchett, it’s a matter of going where the music takes him.
“I don’t have the clout to expect any major waves to be made. I hope, as the album comes out, it reaches a few more ears… my biggest influences are the people I’ve worked with in the past, so if I get a nod from them, I’ll be happy (laughs).
Kʒːlu’s music is available across all streaming services, and from streaming, download and adding to your Bandcamp collection here.. Self-titled album Kʒːlu released on streaming (and 12” vinyl via Bandcamp mail order) on March 26.