Vocalist Christina Wood and keyboardist / producer Cicely Goulder are the brooding electronic duo who go by the name of KALEIDA.

The title song of their first EP ‘Think’ was included in the soundtrack of the 2014 Keanu Reeves action thriller ‘John Wick’ while in 2015, there were dates opening for Róisín Murphy. The pair also notable became for their stark minimal covers of songs such as ‘Take Me To The River’, ‘A Forest’, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘99 Luftballons’ which subsequently appeared in the 2017 Charlize Theron spy drama ‘Atomic Blonde’.

After two EPs and two albums ‘Tear The Roots’ and ‘Odyssey’, KALEIDA are back with their third album ‘In Arms’; the record captures 3 years of perseverance that has seen the duo nurture a long distance creative partnership across an ocean that has withstood the pressures of parenting and the shifting patterns of life.

With the release of a new single ‘Stranger’ which showcases a new direction for KALEIDA in its use of 808 beats alongside their usual haunting demeanor and a prayer-like chorus, Christina Wood and Cicely Goulder took turns to answer questions from ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the making of ‘In Arms’ and their future course.

After the 2021 album ‘Odyssey’ which was released into the Covid world, KALEIDA experienced something of an existential crisis, what happened and how did you get through it?

Christina: It just felt hard to keep going at that point. We’d put out an album during Covid and we hadn’t toured it, and we were asking ourselves whether our music was any good, whether we had enough of a following to justify the continued uphill battle. This project is truly a labor of love. But in the end making music means more to us, and so we got back to it. We’ll never stop.

While KALEIDA could not ever be accused of being overly cheerful, ‘In Arms’ does feel like fresh air has come out of the storm?

Christina: It feels more confident and more mature… it’s hard for us to say though, we don’t have much perspective on it, or space from it…

Did you do anything different for the making of ‘In Arms’ that was different to your previous albums to keep the remote collaboration process as fresh and united as possible?

Christina: We worked with Johan Hugo on a few tracks, and that was a great way to get us together in another location (Margate), bring some fresh ideas in and be really productive in short bursts. We also worked with some incredible live musicians, including two drummers, which really added a lot of energy.

How does your creative dynamic work in your virtual studio world?

Christina: We often email fragments of ideas back and forth – and then work on them, send them back, and so on, and they gradually take shape. But to get the core structure down on something we write together, we often need to be in the same room. Then after that a lot of the production and vocals we can do separately, and Cicely will tie it all together.

‘Hollow’ has this immediacy that perhaps hasn’t been heard from you since ‘Think’? Any thoughts?

Christina: It started as a simple piano idea… and we intended to keep it simple and initially make what we were calling a nostalgic sounding ‘house’ track out of it. It went through many metamorphoses production-wise but it must have retained some of that immediacy.

Going back to your days as a fledgling act, you’ve found a place for ‘Seagull’ which was the first song you made together? What made ‘In Arms’ the right place for it on after 10 years?

Christina: We were relistening to it during the period we were writing material for this album and just thought it had some kind of dark power to it. We must be more confident now so we decided it should make the cut.

How have the themes and aesthetics of your songs changed over the years in your minds?

Christina: It feels like one long story… they are all connected, maybe just getting clearer, bigger, more colorful. We’re always writing about whatever we’re going through, thinking about, reading about, feeling. The events change as we get older but the humanity is the same. The production evolves and hopefully the songwriting as well, but the themes all seem to be related.

You’ve said that Joan of Arc has been a pivotal figure in the making of ‘In Arms’?

Christina: It must have been towards the end of the process that we connected with some images of Joan of Arc, before we had a name for the album. She was a woman driven by a higher purpose, and she bravely kept on with her mission when many would have questioned the value in doing so. I guess sticking with music just feels that way a lot for us.

You have used an interesting array of bass textures on ‘In Arms’, how were these constructed and implemented into the overall sound?

Cicely: We worked with an incredible Jazz bassist called Tom Mason who brought a lot of the lines to life. Often I will demo stuff out on MIDI but there is nothing like a talented player to elevate and modulate the basic tune. I love a good bass line, particularly as it implies so much without having to rely on chords.

How involved do you get into constructing your own sound design as opposed to the modern way which appears to rely on sample packs? What are your preferred instruments?

Cicely: I don’t think there is anything wrong with sample packs as sometimes the best ideas come quickly so it’s great not to kill the vibe by tinkering around trying to find the ‘perfect’ sound. Having said that, I do end up re-doing a lot of the sounds, particularly basslines, on an analog synth or with a live player. In the studio we have a Moog Voyager, Juno 60, D50 and a few other synths but we might record others if we’re working in hired studios.

The new single ‘Stranger’ springs a surprise with its New York electro drum machine rhythms, how did this come to about?

Cicely: I think I was working on the middle 8 of a completely different track and made that organ chord loop – it sounded so nostalgic that I threw some 808s together and it just seemed to match well. I wanted to make the song go on some completely different tangent in that section but when I played it to Christina she thought we should make it into a new track. She went away that night and demo’d some vocals and the next day it was basically done!

Was ‘Hansaplast’ inspired by Berlin as it has this Cold War tension about it? Does that resonate with all that is going on in the world for you?

Christina: It was just a pretty personal track to be honest, not inspired by Berlin. But yes, we find it hard not to be deeply affected by the horrors happening in Ukraine and the Middle East.

What is ‘Endless Youth’ about?

Christina: That nostalgia we all feel for our youth, summer loves, that time when you felt more connected to your body compared to when you have young kids and other focuses and responsibilities!!

The folky side of KALEIDA is still very present but is more prominent on ‘Kilda’ despite its hip-hop beats while ‘Don´t Turn Me Out’ has this acoustic feel with deeper harmonies, is this aesthetic something you were more eager to push on this album?

Christina: We didn’t think about that… we just made the music that was in us. The folky roots will always be there – must be my Kentucky heritage or past Celtic lives…

Which are your favourite songs on the new album?

Christina: My favorites are ‘Generation’, because I love the groove, ‘Kilda’ also because I love the drums… combined with the bagpipes, and ‘Don’t Turn Me Out’ for its simplicity.

You are touring ‘In Arms’ in March 2024, how are preparations going and is there a new found zest for performing again after everything that’s happened?

Christina: Yes! And new-found nerves! We are working with a drummer this time, which adds a lot of energy and we are very excited to perform with her. It’s going to be amazing to do shows again.

What does the future hold for KALEIDA?

Christina: Releasing the album, shows, connecting with fans as much as possible, and then we’ll see! We’re trying not to put too much expectation on the release, and just take it as it goes. But we do hope that people connect with it.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to KALEIDA

Special thanks to Alix Wenmouth at Wasted Youth Music

The singles ‘Stranger’, ‘Seagull Nun’ and ‘Hollow’ are all available through Embassy One on the usual online platforms

‘In Arms’ is released on 22 March 2024 in blue vinyl LP, black vinyl LP, CD and digital formats via https://lnk.to/KaleidaInArms

KALEIDA 2024 live dates include:

London Oslo (22 March), Prague Cross Club (23 March), Brno Kabinet Múz (24 March), Cologne Artheater (27 March), Berlin LARK (28 March), Hamburg Hääkken (29 March), Warsaw Chmury (30 March)







Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Benjamin Hampson
16 January 2024