Music Interview: Victory Kicks

For day three of my Music Interview Marathon, we speak to indie rock solo artist Victory Kicks. He tells us how he creates music from home and his hope to make it a full-time job.

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Artist’s Name: Victory Kicks (John Sibley)
Genre: Indie Rock
Founded: 2013
Originated From: London, UK
Discography:  January Man (Single, 2013), Rockets for Ghosts (EP, 2013), Junior Code Course (Single, 2014), I Got Drunk, I Called You Up (Single, 2014), Smoke (Single, 2014), Emergency Noise (EP, 2014), The Young Flood (EP, 2014), The Decibel Age (Album, 2014), High Wires (Album, 2015), Skyscrapers (Single, 2016), Get Blurred (Album, 2016), Emily’s Hours (Album, 2016), Winter Games Vol. 1 (EP, 2017), Out Beyond the Radar (Single, 2018), Promising Authors (EP, 2018), Out Beyond the Radar (Album, 2018), On & On (Single, 2020), Great Lakes (Single, 2020), Winter Games Vol. 2 (EP, 2020), Lovers in Peacetime (2020) & Mookie Betts (Single, 2021)

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How would you describe your music?

Victory Kicks is somewhere between a band and a solo home recording project. A lot of the time it’s just me writing the songs and playing all the parts, sometimes I collaborate on stuff with friends from other London based acts.

In terms of how it sounds, I aim for atmospheric, melodic and driving indie rock music that is both uplifting and a bit melancholic – so, how it hits you might depend on what kind of mood you’re in.

What is your musical creative process like?

I always start with the music and then figure out a rough structure and then a melody and a rhythm for the vocals by improvising around it. I usually get ideas for lines out of that and then then a theme will emerge from that. I can then hang other lines on.

I never really start out with a subject for a song, I find it hard to write that way. It seems to work much better if I let the feel of the music, and the rhythm and melody dictate where the lyrics go.

I kind of take a similar approach to writing albums. I don’t start out with a concept for a record but there’s usually a concept or a theme that emerges out of the songs I’m writing that ties everything on the album together.

Not so much in terms of a story, more in terms of a backdrop or something that gives context to the songs. But I’m also a big fan of the idea that different people will get different things from the songs and will hear and interpret the lyrics for themselves.

So, I never get too hung up on what songs are about, they’ll mean something pretty different to me than they will to someone else and that’s how it should be.

How did you start out as a musician?

Victory Kicks came about really as a way for me to keep making music. I’d been playing in bands for years, mainly as a drummer, but I’d always played guitar and written songs on the side.

By 2013 I was too busy to really carry on with music in the way I’d been doing it. But I didn’t want to stop writing and recording so I put together a minimal studio at home and started recording and releasing my own stuff as Victory Kicks.

It turned out I could get quite a lot done just doing it around work and life, an hour to two here and there – it builds up. Pretty quickly I realised that this was the way to go and here I am still doing that eight years on.

How did you come up with your stage name?

It’s a pretty boring answer: I wanted the stuff I was doing to sound like a band and be played live by a band, so I wanted a stage name rather than just my own.

Victory Kicks was just part of a line from a song I had and when I searched for it, nothing came up so I figured I’d go with that. There’s not really any meaning to it, the main reason I chose it was that it just wasn’t taken.

Who influenced you within the music industry?

I was always really into a lot of American 80s, 90s and early 00s alternative and indie music growing up so bands like R.E.M, Pavement, Sonic Youth, Guided by Voices, and Wilco were definitely early influences for me. The stuff Victory Kicks does these days is probably more influenced by bands like The War on Drugs, Spoon and The National.

Have you performed live much and what was your favourite gig to play at?

Victory Kicks tends to be mainly a recording project although there are shows from time to time. I also play in a band called The Young Flood, which started out as a Victory Kicks side project and became it’s own thing – that’s a lot more focused on live shows and we do a fair number of Victory Kicks tunes.

My favourite place to play is the Spice of Life in Soho, London. I’ve been playing there on and off for years and it’s always a great atmosphere and just the most fun.

What is the best thing about being a musician?

That’s a good question… to be honest I’ve never really thought about that. It’s never really seemed like a choice to me, just something I’ve needed up feeling compelled to keep doing.

I suppose the best thing is that it gives you this creative outlet that might not be available to you in other parts of your life. And its pure escapism too – when you’re working on music you’re not thinking about much else.

What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far as a musician(s)?

Even though Victory Kicks is probably about as streamlined and straight forward as it can be in terms of making music, it’s still difficult to fit everything in when you’re not doing it as your full-time job.

I think the biggest problem to overcome is finding time to do all the promotional and admin related stuff that wraps around the stuff you’re creating. And staying motivated to do that when you’re tired can be difficult.

To be completely honest, I wouldn’t say I’ve totally cracked that one yet, but I suppose the main thing is just to keep going and to get as much done as you can.

What plans have you got coming up this year?

This year is all about getting a new album finished and released. It’s nearly done, and the first single is already out – that’s called Mookie Betts so do check that out if you get a chance.

The album is going to be called Free the Night and it’s made up of a bunch of songs I recorded at home during lockdown and then collaborated on remotely with friends of mine from other London bands. It’s been coming together really nicely, and it’s been a relatively long time in the making so I’m pretty excited to have it out there finally.

I’m also hoping to have some dates confirmed for shows later in the year, Covid permitting – fingers crossed!

What is your ultimate dream as a musician?

It sounds maybe a bit dull, but I think the ultimate dream for me would be just to make enough money from music that I could work on it full time. That’s it really – I love making music, I’ll always want to do more of it.

You can find all things Victory Kicks related on his LinkTree page.

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If you’re in a band or a musician and would like to appear on this blog, please contact me and I’ll forward you an interview template.

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