French Kettle Station Moves Beyond "Dark-Atmo-Harsh-Ambient-Noise-Whatever-Drone-Wave"

French Kettle Station at Hamsterdam in 2014
French Kettle Station at Hamsterdam in 2014
Tom Murphy

Luke Thinnes' relationship with music has always been driven by a genuine love for art and expression. As a teenager, he showed a love for DIY ethic in music, regularly attending shows at local venues like Rhinoceropolis and Glob — which he now calls home. After playing in drone/noise group Floor Freakers for some time, Thinnes decided he wanted to explore music as a solo act, adopting the name French Kettle Station along with a more melodic, chilled-out indie sound that harkens back to post-punk groups like the Cure and Joy Division. What makes French Kettle Station unique is that he's rooted heavily in a community that encourages an openness to experiencing new art. With an impressive electronica/indie-pop gem of a new album called Dead Magnolia, available online via pay-what-you-want, Thinnes' musical experiences and ethos are palpable. Despite car troubles in Boulder preventing us from meeting in person, Thinnes was able to provide firsthand insight into French Kettle Station and the community that helped to create it.

Westword: I know you’ve been involved in a lot of things musically. How did French Kettle Station come about? 

Luke Thinnes: I started writing songs as French Kettle Station when I was nineteen because I found it more challenging to write a pop song than to make five hours of the dark-atmo-harsh-ambient-noise-whatever-drone-wave that I was making at the time....But before moving in to Glob I didn’t share my songs with anybody but my super close friends.

What thoughts or emotions drive you, and what do you hope to convey through your music?

I'm driven by confronting vulnerability and I always try to reach some new poetic depth every time I start something new. In a live situation, the goal is to convey every possible emotion, and I find it most effective to blur the line between the audience and the performer in order to accomplish this goal.

What do you think makes the Denver music scene special/unique?

Well, I can only speak on behalf of what’s happening at Rhinoceropolis/Glob/Club Scum because it’s the only community I feel tied to. It’s special because a bunch of super talented and disciplined artists have gathered together in a motivated effort to create the best content they possibly can, and we are all comfortable enough being open and critical with one another to have established a foundation that we can help to evolve every single day.

What kind of upcoming plans do you have for French Kettle Station or your music in general?

Right now I’m just trying to maintain the integrity of each project I’m involved with. It’s always hard to say what’s next.

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What’s it like being right in the heart of Denver’s DIY music scene, both literally and figuratively?

I’m privileged enough to survive off of my music and to have arranged my life around creating and experiencing art, but there’s so much downtime involved in my lifestyle that I hesitate to consider that I’m involved with any kind of scene. It's more like a highly productive group of likeminded loners that sometimes do shows. When they happen, they are always great, but then it's right back to the void of coping with our abilities & working hard to polish and refine them. It's like being in the eye of a storm.

Favorite release of 2016 so far?

Dead Magnolia by French Kettle Station!

Be sure to check out French Kettle Station's set at Artopia this Saturday, February 20, at City Hall. You can find tickets and more information here.

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