FP100 Fife bands 5. King Creosote

King Creosote
King Creosote

King Creosote is St Andrews singer songwriter Kenny Anderson, a widely respected and prolific performer who has has fronted many successful bands - from the Skoubhie Dubh Orchestra to The Aliens.

His first album, Queen of Brush Country, came out in 1998 and since then he has maintained an impressive level of output which has seen him release as many as five albums in a year.

Anderson first began to release his folksy rock music under the King Creosote name in mid 1990s after realising that much of the music he was producing at that time was not in keeping with the more bluegrass sound of the Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra or Khartoum Heroes, two of the bands he was playing in at the time.

He described his new sound as “songs with relatively few chords in a non-bluegrass style.”

Those first albums were released on Fence Records, which he set up alongside Johnny Lynch, and the label would go on to become a home for many local musicians.

Fence attracted a diverse group of performers and King Creosote often shared a stage with fellow St Andrean KT Tunstall who remains a big fan of Anderson to this day, talking in glowing terms of King Creosote’s music, particularly the melodies.

But as his songwriting developed, it became harder to define the King Creosote sound as Anderson began incorporating different elements and sounds into his music - but the quality was always there.

As was his accordion.

In 2005 and 2007 he chose to release a few albums outwith Fence and once again his impressive songwriting and unique vocals brought him much praise from the music press and beyond.

But despite the kind words in the Guardian and other widely read publications, there was still no breakthrough into the mainstream.

This certainly didn’t seem to trouble KC and in 2009 he released another great album, perhaps tellingly titled ‘Flicking the Vs’.

A collaboration with electronic producer Jon Hopkins in 2011 brought a Mercury Prize nomination for their ‘Diamond Mine’ album.

The combination of the Fifers’ haunting vocals alongside Hopkins subtle beats proved to be a masterstroke and suddenly King Creosote found himself in the mix for a major music prize alongside household names such as Adele and PJ Harvey.

It wasn’t to be, the prize went to PJ Harvey, but for King Creosote it was all about seizing the opportunity to reach an audience outwith his well established admirers.

He lamented how the digital revolution had made it easier for musicians to get their songs recorded and available online but it also led to the demise of the record shops and other outlets where music could be promoted on a small budget.

Then in 2013 he broke with Fence Records.

That move proved to be yet another spur for King Creosote who went on to release a new EP, record a soundtrack that is due to be released later this year and line up more collaborations, including another album with Jon Hopkins.

So 14 years on from his first album release, King Creosote has negotiated the digital revolution and sampled what it’s like on the big stage with the music industry’s big hitters.

And he is still doing what he does best - writing and performing great songs at home. in Fife.