Glasgow-based Kenny Bates is the man behind Quitter, a music project where he makes lo-fi, analogue sounds and marries them perfectly with his videos, which are created from small loops made using the frames of an ActionSampler. We talked to him about the relationship between sounds and images and his love for film photography.
Hello Kenny, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! My name’s Kenny Bates, I’m a songwriter and musician from Glasgow, Scotland. I write music under the moniker Quitter.
How did you discover film photography and what was the appeal?
I grew up with disposable cameras, taking them on school trips when I was young and buying them in my teens in the summer. I rediscovered that aesthetic again in my late twenties, I think as a reaction to a bad experience buying a DSLR camera - I couldn’t get a good shot out of the thing and hated missing moments in time stuck reading screen menus! A friend gifted me a Lomography ActionSampler for my 30th birthday and that sent me down a rabbit hole of Lomography cameras, toy cameras, obscure plastic ones and simple point-and-shoots.
My connection with film photography comes from the same place as my love of tactile and lo-fi music recording equipment. I’m completely uninterested in the world of audio plugins and digital instruments. I get the sounds I want by putting vocals through a 4-track cassette machine, or a toy keyboard through guitar pedals and a cheap amp, creating in the 'real world' the feeling and texture of the sound I want and recording it, committing to it.
My same lack of knowledge/skill/interest in digital photography or photo editing brought me to film photography, and an instant connection with Lomography's ethos of "don’t think, just shoot". I love the unpredictability of my Diana F+, Fisheye and the ActionSampler, and their ability to either capture the atmosphere and feeling of a time or else decorate the memory with all kinds of light leaking and color irregularities. I watched an Andy Warhol documentary when I had Covid and he had a quote that summed it all up for me nicely - "Your own life while it's happening to you never has any atmosphere until it's a memory". Digital photography to my eye perpetuates that complete lack of atmosphere, whereas film loads each shot with feeling.
Talk to us about your project with the ActionSampler and why you chose to use these images with your music?
I’d seen people experimenting with the ActionSampler on socials, creating little 4-frame looping animations from their photographs, and immediately wanted to have a go myself, I had quite a library of shots by that time. After testing the concept I set about capturing late-summer photographs of nature in the city (Glasgow) in order to create a music video for my new single "Penny Drop". The song’s drum machine has a feeling of steady movement which works with the pace of the mini-animations, and the music - like most of my songs - is a story from my perspective, leaning heavy on the nostalgia and melancholy, but with a lightness. Its natural season always tends to be late summer creeping into Autumn, a time when the colors and light really complement color film. So all in, the music and the approach seemed to complement one another really nicely. I took some shots on black and white and at different times of the day to pick out different sections in the song. Glasgow is a very rainy, wet city for most of the year. But every summer I’m reminded of how a bit of good weather reveals it as a very European feeling, beautiful place to live.
What's coming up for you for the rest of 2023?
‘Penny Drop’ is the first single to be taken from my forthcoming album ‘Monument Road’, out 22nd September on Gold Mold Records and Heavenly Creature Records. There will be a few other singles out before then, and I recently realised that the single artwork for every one was taken on my Diana F+ or on LomoChrome Purple film. A bit of an inevitable theme I guess, my music and photography interests often pair up in some way.
To see more of Kenny's music and creative videos check out his Quitter Instagram page.