It's only been a few months since of Montreal released its 11th album, Paralytic Stalks, but the group’s ever-prolific frontman and songwriter, Kevin Barnes, likes to keep busy. In addition to rarities album Daughter of Cloud due out next month, he’s also set to appear on the B-side of Solange Knowles' new single "Losing You," as she attempts to further shed her “Beyoncé’s little sister” label.
A few years ago, a team-up between an indie-rock frontman from Georgia and a member of R&B’s royal family might have seemed unlikely, but these days, as both genres draw on the other for inspiration, the idea of Knowles and Barnes working together isn’t really all that shocking. What is interesting, though, is the extent of their collaboration. “Basically, she’s a friend of mine, and she came to visit Athens and she stayed at my house,” Barnes explains. “She brought her son. I have a daughter the same age, so the two of them were hanging out a lot, and she and I would work in the studio all day. It was a really fun experience. It was about two weeks, and we just worked on a lot of her ideas. I don’t know if any of that stuff will see the light of day. It was kind of like, she’d have a melody line and she’d ask me if we could piece it together. We basically just made a bunch of demos.”
In addition to those demos, the B-side to "Losing You" is called “Sleep in the Park” and is more ready for public consumption. “That was the one song that was more together, it seemed like a finished song,” Barnes says. “That’s pretty much completely her song. I didn’t play much of a role as far as producing or structuring or adding lyrics, or anything like that. We did a version of it together, and I wrote a bassline and sang backup. I haven’t heard the final mix, so I’m not sure if she used any of the parts that I added to it or not. But the version that I worked on, I was really happy with. It was really fun to work with her.”
In addition to partnering up with Knowles, Barnes is as hard at work as ever on new material for of Montreal. While he cautions that, “it’s still early days with the new project,” the process has already begun. “It’s taken me a while to sort of shed the skin of the last one and kind of discover the spirit of the one I’m going to start,” he says. “I went through this strange period of sort. I was hibernating creatively, on a certain level, but on another level, I was writing a lot. I went through something really damaging psychologically, and I’m slowly recovering from it. My spirit’s being renewed day by day, and I’m getting closer and closer day-by-day to the point where I could start throwing myself into a new project. My whole identity is sort of centered on being involved in some sort of creative project -- I’m always thinking about it, anyway -- so I’ve been writing a lot of lyrics. But I haven’t really been writing all that much music yet. But I can see that it’s sort of coming together. I have three songs that I’ve started, and I’m thinking about getting the pieces into place – getting the people together that I want to work with, and thinking about what sort of inspirations I want to pull from, what kind of genres I want to work with. It’s slowly coming together.”
Daughter of Cloud is out October 23 on Polyvinyl. Watch of Montreal's video for "Spiteful Intervention" below: