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Interview: Kody Nielson Talks About New Album And Summer Shows

Interview: Kody Nielson Talks About New Album And Summer Shows

Thursday 14th December, 2017 2:56PM

Auckland singer and producer Kody Nielson has maintained a fascinating and multifaceted career of musical projects for more than a decade. He’s explored cybernetic pop as Silicon, collaborated with partner Bic Runga on psychedelic guitar group Opossum, worked with brother Ruban Nielson on Unknown Mortal Orchestra and of course blew away local audiences as frontman of pioneering punk band the Mint Chicks.

Nielson has a number of live shows lined up under his own name for the summer, including an appearance at Splore 2018, support slots with Future Islands and Connan Mockasin, and will be performing at this week’s bFM Christmas Party. Always an enigmatic figure, he’s recently been sharing mysterious instrumental music clips via his social media accounts, hinting at something new and exciting in the works. Nielson generously took time out to chat about his upcoming plans including a new album Birthday Suite set for release early next year, how he draws inspiration from synth-classical musician Wendy Carlos, and more…

I saw you and Michael Logie play as a drums/keyboard duo at the Whammyfest a few weeks ago. Was that the first time you’ve played with that new instrumental format?

Yeah pretty much. I've been working on the music a lot lately and been thinking of doing it this way for ages, just because I wanted to play drums more live, than vocals or whatever. It’s just something that I’ve been trying to figure out. That was our first gig as this setup, we did a gig before that (Going Global Showcase) but we were both on keyboards and stuff like that. It’s cool but I just felt like playing drums more.(laughs)

I really liked the outfits and the lights. Did you guys bring your own laser to that show?

Yeah, I brought that fucking funny laser.

Your shows that are coming up, with the bFM party and Splore over summer, are they going to be in that new format?

Yeah they’ll all be like that. The same album I guess, that I’m hoping to put out next year.

That album that you’re working on, does that relate to the music you’ve been putting on Twitter and Instagram?

Kind of yeah. There’s a little bit more along the lines of Wendy Carlos. I’m playing drums with it. All the stuff on Twitter is like little preludes. I think we’re going to put the first song out on January 13th, on Bic’s birthday.

Did you have a schedule with the online releases? I kind of noticed that with the music that was on Twitter, it would come out every four or five days.

The only sort of schedule is, the idea that I’m going to put the songs out on birthdays. The album’s called Birthday Suite and each track is one of my family’s or friend’s birthdays. The first one is Bic’s birthday so that’s coming out on her birthday on January 13th. The plan is to put the album out on my birthday, I don’t have a song on the album but the album might come out on my birthday, on May 9th. That’s the big plan.

What kind of ideas are you exploring with those recordings (on Twitter)?

Just composition I suppose, I’ve been getting a few more synths, and trying to buy some modules, just getting more into analogue synths. I just like the sounds. A lot of the music that I’ve been listening to lately, like Bach, has influenced me quite a bit lately.

What specific stuff, if you don’t mind me asking?

Definitely Bach, and Stravinsky, just the usual jazz stuff that I like listening to as well. Like Miles Davis and George Duke. Thelonious Monk, all this kind of music finds it’s way in to my music. Because I’m trying to bring in influences from everywhere.

I really like how (the new music) is futuristic but reminiscent of hundreds of years ago, the feeling.

Wendy Carlos and Tomita, they did music but I always thought that I wanted to write the music, not just cover old classical pieces. I thought it would be kind of cool to write the scores. And just steal their whole sound. No, just kidding! Just take that idea, but try to take it further.

Are you taking a break from writing songs with lyrics at the moment?

Pretty much. Apart from writing with Ruban and stuff with UMO, that’s a little bit of a different writing process. It’s not really what I’ve been feeling like doing lately, I just feel like there’s maybe too many singer-songwriter lyricists at the moment. And it seems like like you need something really special to say, or something important. Otherwise it kind of blends in or something.

Are you working with Ruban currently?

Yeah I have been. We’ve just finished his new record as well. It’s kind of just been mastered a couple of days ago.

When you put out projects under different names, how do you decide what music goes out under which name?

I guess stuff falls into place more or less. Like with this stuff I thought I’d keep it seperate from Silicon anyway, because I knew it was going to be instrumental. A few years ago I released an EP called Devils as Kody Nielson, it was sort of just instrumental kind of jams. And I wanted to go back to that a little bit. Just go back to that instrumental sound and not have to worry about writing songs or aiming at radio or anything. I wanted it to be just the music and have it be completely underground and have people just find it. Two hundred people just find it and like it or whatever.

Are you still making paintings?

I haven’t been painting lately, I’ve been a bit busy doing this music stuff. I am keen to get back into it, soon actually.

Still the same style, or…

Not the emoji things. I feel like doing some different things.

Do you have any plans for summer? Are you gonna go on holiday?

I’ll sort of just hang around here (Auckland). Ruban and the family are coming to Auckland for the summer, so that should be cool, and they’re going to do some shows over here. I’ve got a few shows coming up, on the 15th of December is the (bFM) Christmas party, and then supporting Future Islands at the Power Station the next day, that should be sweet. Then playing at Splore on the 23rd of February. And doing a little tour with Connan Mockasin as well in February. I’m sort of just doing a few shows over summer.

Win a double-pass for you and a friend to head along to Splore Festival 2018, for more info see HERE.


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Connan Mockasin
Sat 3rd Feb 8:00pm
San Fran, Wellington
Connan Mockasin
Thu 8th Feb 7:00pm
Hollywood Cinema, Auckland
Connan Mockasin
Fri 9th Feb 7:00pm
Hollywood Cinema, Auckland
Splore 2018
Sat 24th Feb 12:00pm
Tapapakanga Regional Park, Auckland