Fool's Gold Q&A Vol 2: Kavinsky

Posted on Sep 17th, 2008 in FG Q&A by Mr. Goldbar

As we continue to pick the brains of the Fool’s Gold family and friends, the second volume of our exclusive blog Q&A series features Kavinsky, dropping jewels about Quebecois fire trucks, production friendships, “moccasin funk” and much more. Read the whole thing after the jump (and cop Kavinsky’s limited Fool’s Gold EP here), and if you’re still craving more interview action, read our Lifelike Q&A and stay tuned for more soon!

How long have you been making music?
I started in 2003, just to try it out. Most of my friends like Jackson and Oizo had already been doing it for a long time. I wondered if I made music, what it would sound like! (laughs) So I was a bit curious and Oizo gave me his old computer with Logic to try it out. I didn’t understand much of it, but I liked the idea that if my song had 2 notes, they came from my 2 fingers. I didn’t have any musical experience aside from 6 months of piano when I was 12, which I stopped because my favorite cartoon aired at the same time as my lessons on Wednesdays. Anyway as I started messing with my music software it became more instinctive.

Lots of people in America probably don’t know how tight you are with Mr Oizo. Can you talk about that? You acted in his movies, right? And the video for “Analog Worms Attack”?
He’s my oldest friend, I think we’ve known each other for more than 15 years. We met at a party at a friend’s house and the next day we shot our first short film together, something he wrote in 2 minutes. It went so well that we just kept doing more crazy shit together. Then his music took off and he came out with “Analog Worms,” and I appeared in the video with a wig on. I almost always wear a wig in his films. (laughs)

What’s your impression of Quebec?
Roughly it’s like America but with people speaking funny French. (laughs) It’s easy to grow fond of it, I love it there. The parties, the people, the girls, the lights, the look of the place… I talk about it like a kid because Montreal was my first destination on the other side of the ocean and I was a bit traumatized! I remember the first fire truck that I saw. (laughs) At home they practically look like tricycles. There when a fire truck rolls by you almost shit yourself. For me it’s super impressive since I’m full of images that I soaked in as a kid watching TV.

Do you like my accent?
It’s funny, especially with those little expressions that you guys have, it’s like you hold a secret key to them. The S’s can be a bit harsh, the “tssss” sound everywhere. I try to make fun of it but I suck at impersonating it.

You created a whole Kavinsky universe. Did you first make the music and then come up with the concept?
Yes. Once “Testarossa” was done I had the concept. It took shape as the music came together. The guy, the car, the era, the story, the characters around him, it was like episodes from a TV show. I have a notebook with all my ideas. I could shoot the movie tomorrow and make a sequel even. (laughs) But the whole imagery just comes to me naturally when I make the music. It goes hand in hand.

Are you very picky with artwork? Would you say it’s your vision or do you let the artists show you sketches?
Well for about 10 minutes when I came up with the concept at first, I thought I’d draw the character myself, since I do little sketches or whatever. But 10 minutes later I realized that I wanted something with more reach than a high school art project. I met this amazing illustrator called Anthony Touzet and he and I really worked together to make the image in my head come true. Then Jonas & François made the first video and they had more freedom… sort of (laughs). I gave them the color palette, the general look and feel, the car, the character and then they did the rest. They made a bunch of scenes and we picked the best ones. The end result was short, like 2 minutes. Then I made a video for “Dead Cruiser” but decided not to release it. I just thought it was way less good than the first one, even though we had 10 times more money. It was depressing. There will be one last animated video for the final EP and then a mini movie for the album.

Would you say that MySpace played a big role in your musical career?
(Laughs) I signed up in 2005, my friends and I were just discovering this thing. As it happens it’s also when I released my first EP, Teddy Boy, so it was perfect timing to post my music and get my first “nice work, bad ass” comments like a teenager. Also a great time to post deformed genitalia on Oizo’s page or gay porn on Sebastian’s… which would be inconceivable today. I love MySpace, everyone can use it in their own way, even if they don’t care about it.

A lot of people think you’re on Ed Banger. In fact you knew Feadz before all of this, through Oizo right?
Oizo came first, he’s my oldest buddy. Fabien (Feadz) too but we’re less close. Then I met the other guys gradually. I lived with So Me and Justice for a year. I did a bunch of gigs with the Ed Banger guys so naturally people think I’m on the label but they’re just my boys that I hang with. I’m on Record Makers. Mehdi is my neighbor and occasionally my father. Sebastian is my brother in alcohol and in world vision.

How did you start with Record Makers?
I met Marc (the boss) on the set for the Tellier video that Quentin (Oizo) did in Marseilles. When I started making music I turned to him naturally to play him my first little ideas, and when I made “Testarossa” we did an EP.

What about Fool’s Gold?
Well I met this guy with one big eyebrow and a funny accent. They told me his name is Alaéééiin. A little weird at first but then really cool. So I said OK, I’m down.

What are your memories of the legendary first Fool’s Gold tour last year?
LA, definitely LA. The party was great, as always in LA. I don’t remember much in detail…

Do you notice that there’s a whole new generation of mini-Kavinskys making arpeggiated 80s beats?
Hmm yeah, some of them have a racecar, sometimes there’s a guy in the shadow, a storyline that follows the music. Some of it is cool, on the music side. The image and the names tend to make me smirk, but hey I didn’t invent anything. I copied a lot from movies, cartoons, TV shows and soundtracks…

What are your influences, musically?
Well, I started off listening to what we’d call in French “moccasin funk”: Midnight Star, the Whispers, Delegation, Shalamar. Then some late 80’s rap, for about 10 years. (laughs) I couldn’t get out of that phase. American stuff, not French. After that I opened up a bit, because I was really closed off for a while. I got into a bit of jazz, some jazz-rock, into rock, into hard rock, into metal. (laughs) Aside from 3 or 4 joints I really discovered Daft Punk in 2003, Led Zeppelin in 2002. I’m telling you, I had missed out on a lot. Sebastian has been putting me on to tons of stuff lately, like Sparks.

Do you work on a laptop? or with actual synths?
I have a G5 at home and a laptop when I travel. No real synths, only plug-ins, usually the same ones, they’re pretty common.

I remember chatting with you after your first show with Daft Punk. You described an outdoor venue in the South of France. What are you fondest memories from that tour?
Ah man, it’s hard to sort through them. First Pedro called us to say that Daft Punk picked us to play at Bercy. That alone was crazy. Then he told us we might do all of Europe with them, or at least part of it. Then it was America – we left LA in a big Led Zeppelin tour bus, black and chrome, and drove across the country all the way to New York, with stops in Toronto and Montreal. Then they offered us Australia and finally Japan, a country that I always dreamed of visiting. There’s too many anecdotes from the tour, and you know me, my memory always fails me when I get put on the spot. (laughs)

Did you already know the Daft guys before the tour?
I think I shook their hands once or twice but no, I didn’t know them. When we played Bercy I saw the show for the first time and it was incredible. I remember my eyes dampening up a few times and there may have been a small tear when they did the Tron encore. I was floored and when I saw Thomas in the dressing room afterwards, I didn’t know what to tell him. I felt like an 8 year old kid. He came to tell me that he loved my video for “Testarossa”. I really didn’t know what to say! (laughs) I became tight with Guy-Man pretty fast. We’re buddies now.

Kavinsky is a zombie. Have you ever met Zombie Nation?
No, I’ve heard the name. What’s it like?