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Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Tuesday 29th May, 2012 1:10PM

Kody Nielson has risen from the ashes of The Mint Chicks to write an already critically acclaimed album, under new moniker Opossom, called Electric Hawaii. They've sold out the Auckland leg of their forthcoming national tour and have just announced South Island dates. UTR caught up with Nielson to get all the dirt behind the new album and how it feels to shed The Mint Chicks.

What was the starting point of Opossom and the Opossom material?

Well I just went straight into it. I had a lot of material and I really wanted to make a record. I was just getting inspired and working pretty quickly, and then the record was finished.

We were offered a few gigs and support gigs and we just started practicing. I got Bic (Runga) and Michael (Logie) to help me flesh it out for the live show. We just started playing and we did a few gigs – we haven’t done many yet.

Was there anything particular that you wanted to explore musically or otherwise with Opossom?

Yeah I had an idea of what I wanted my music to sound like, sonically I suppose. I wanted it to sound more analog or something. The songs I’ve been writing are pretty sixties pop-psych numbers. I’ve been referencing the Zombies and bands like that. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to sound like for sure but having a bit of time to muck around for yourself was great and I had a lot of time to experiment and figure out heaps of stuff and get better ideas and better recording: I spent a lot of time messing around with that.

Have you enjoyed the process of writing by yourself?

Oh yeah it’s easier in a way because you don’t have to run anything by anyone else and you can work through your ideas from start to finish. I was kind of keen to not have anyone telling me what to do because I wanted to make my own mistakes.

Why did you call the project Opossom?

Because when I was making it I was staying up all night and I felt pretty nocturnal. I thought opossums were kind of cool because they seem cute but they’re quite vicious, and in New Zealand they’re considered such a pest that when anyone sees a opossum they try to kill it, immediately, and I feel like I can relate to that.

Now that the album is finished, how would you describe it?

I’m pretty proud of it. I think they’re good songs and if you’re into music with melody and funky beats or whatever then you might like this album.

Was there anything lyrically that you were exploring on the album?

I had that 'Electric Hawaii' kind of theme in my head the whole time because that was the first track I recorded when I was just mucking around. It sort of gave me an idea of what context I wanted the album to be in. Ultimately it was just sixties music I suppose.

Tell us about the songs in a live circumstance: are you enjoying them? Do they change live?

They’re pretty much the same as on the record: the arrangements are pretty tight and pretty stripped back. When we do it live it’s just a little bit more raw.

Obviously you have a long history of being a member of The Mint Chicks. A couple of months ago when I interviewed Ruban about Unknown Mortal Orchestra and mentioned that he wanted the project thought of as completely separate from The Mint Chicks. Is that something that’s important to you, and how have you found trying to shed The Mint Chicks thing?

I don’t mind people referring to The Mint Chicks or whatever but it does sort of seem like an old band to us. It was so long ago when we started it – we were in high school. It was pretty naive and that was what was cool about it. I guess we feel like we’re making better music now and that the music speaks for itself these days rather than using these antics and violence and destruction that just took over from the music in The Mint Chicks.

You recently toured the States with Unknown Mortal Orchestra. How was touring with your brother and how were the tracks received in the States?

It was pretty full on. They’re cranking and it was just a busy, busy schedule. Long drives and gigs for weeks on end. They’d been touring for the last year non-stop and I’ve only done the last bunch of tours with them, for the last few months. It was after I finished making Electric Hawaii and Ruban heard it and he asked me to tour with him: it was just because of the timing really. It was just full on.

You’ve been working on a few other things as well, including recording The DHDFD’s latest album French Fries. Tell us a little bit about what else you’ve been up to.

I’ve recorded the DHDFD’s and Bic’s record and my record. That’s probably about it – I like doing a bit of collaborating.

It must be nice to be able to do these different projects at once that are musically alternate?

With all these things I can see the middle ground and how they relate to each other. Like the DHDFD’s are kind of almost like a straight up punk / hardcore band: I’m into a lot of music like that and so I sort of knew what they wanted, and so on.