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A Sit Down With DJ Kavinsky

14:26 Nov/24/2017

Kavinsky is a stylishly haggard-looking Frenchman who makes electronic music that sounds ages, even eons, old. Or maybe just decades — three to be precise, with a booming, melancholy style that glows with the neon tint of the half-remembered 1980s, an era recalled for its gauche delusions of glamour and its emerging relationships with technology. Sipping on a noontime beer at New York’s Soho Grand, his logo-soaked denim vest boasts logos from The Goonies and Metallica. He also likes Ferraris and searing guitar solos of a kind that only made sense back then. If they ever did at all.

His rise was aided more recently by his inclusion in the soundtrack to the 2011 movie Drive, the drum-tight minimalist masterpiece that stars Ryan Gosling as a stoic moral stickler who digs quiet communion with cars and finds himself embroiled in some complicated situations.

"Making music from nothing -just music – is not my style."

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"Kavinsky" is a character with a backstory involving zombiehood and cars, among other things. What gave you the idea?

My idea was to create an excuse for a story to make music for. I can’t imagine creating music for nothing, just like that. I can’t play piano or read music, but I used to love soundtracks to movies, so I decided to create a guy in a car who is dead, so he can die again, and then just have him drive around. It was very helpful for me to create music with something to start with, a story. Without it, I can’t.

How did you shape this particular style?

Honestly, it's pretty simple music to do. It's almost " By the light of the moon"in a little darker. The thing that changed compared to my first productions, is that the pace was, this time, faster. Goblin arpejo and everything, it was causing me to death, it was a rhythm that fascinated me. And at the same time, I also impregnated a lot of fast rap instruments. In the end, I chiseled a rather particular style, rather surprising. Maybe unconsciously, I built that in opposition to all those idiots who sold their sound in magazines of the time. I ended up laying a first project, Testarossa. On the Tellier clip I mentioned earlier, I had met Marc Tessier Ducros, the boss of Record Makers. I made him listen to Testarossa and he agreed to release it in EP.

What is your favorite soundtrack music?

The Terminator theme — it’s very simple but does a lot to you. All the music for John Carpenter and Dario Argento. A lot of Italian movies and American movies, not so much French movies.

How do you like being a comic character?

It’s always a cool trip to do. I can do everything I want because this guy is dead, you can’t die twice. Starting from here, you can do what you want, compared to what you do in your real life.

You have hallucinated even to the point of wanting to make your own sounds so. Did you have the basics to manage the production or not? How did you do it concretely?

My first time in music was when I was a kid. My mother had enrolled me in the neighborhood MJC's piano lessons so I could stop watching the X-Or cartoon . It was so perverse that my classes started just a little bit after the start of the program so I could only watch a few crumbs before staying on my hunger. And then, as for the piano, let's say that I did not really learn to play on a real instrument. At the MJC, we used a kind of pipe in which we had to blow while strumming on a keyboard that was connected! It was a lollipop, it was a shitty piano. And me, I thought only one thing: watch the end of X-Or . Anyway, it's an anecdote illustrating my first musical experience.

What’s your favourite video game?

Top 20, but not one. OutRun, for sure, I named my album because of it. I used to love a game called Shenmue. It’s from the same guy who did OutRun. It was a story inside a story, it’s a game you can’t even follow the adventure you can do. Gangsters in the streets. I lost a lot of hours and days maybe years playing that game.

How suddenly after ManPower, after the graffiti, the foosball and the cinema, you started playing electronic music. Where is that from ?

One of the first times I had an electronic record, it was the army. Yes, I did my service ... It's a biscuit that I'll leave you there! This is where I was shown for the first time a Daft record. I saw marked "punk" on the cover, I immediately sent it to walk. The crado side, a little Warriors, the logo of the Daft, it did not plug at all. I did not catch the delirium at all.

What do you think of the big rise of "EDM" in America?

We are lucky because there is a lot of good music in France, and big stuff in Europe in general. All of my friends, almost, are French. Maybe Skrillex is the only guy I know who isn’t French and is making electronic music. He’s an amazing guy. Really hated by some people, which I can’t understand, because the human, the guy, is incredible. His soul is very nice. It’s a big quality for him.

When did you stop giving a fuck about what other people think?

When it’s not people I don’t know, it doesn’t work with me. I’m 37 so I know myself a little bit. Merde. Je par de… I was being myself, I didn’t change for anything or something else. I’m me.

What did you do before you started making music?

Shitty work. Breaking walls, painting, “not like this, but like this,” preparing orders for Amazon, that kind of shit.


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