Interview: Kavinsky (Doesn’t Own A Car)

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Thank God I’m Canadian. Going into a Kavinsky interview, it helps a ton to know a little bit of French. He was sitting in the lobby at Universal Music in Berlin doing a string of interviews while three business dudes on their Macs sat across from him on a white leather couch, helping translate words from English to French and vice versa. It was like having a human dictionary in three forms whenever we struggled to meet halfway in both of our native tongues.

The 37-year-old Paris-based, grey-haired electro house Frenchie – who doesn’t like to admit he drives a Vespa – was a respected until Nightcall stole the spotlight on the soundtrack of Drive starring Ryan Gosling. Now, everyone knows his name, even though it sounds more Russian than French. In person, he is not far off from the comic character he holds of himself, in jeans, sneaks and a teddy jacket (it’s too late to be wearing sunglasses at this hour, that cliché is roadkill). Just add a French accent, a few wrinkles and a business posse, and there’s the real Kavinksy. He’s softer in interview than you might suspect, but he is definitely in the fast lane of his music career.

His album OutRun drops on February 25 with 13 tracks (including Nightcall, which was co-produced with Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk and Sebastian from Ed Banger Records). Kavinsky took some time out to chat about the weirdest track on the album, the best way to listen to music and what it’s like being a dead comic character. The dish? His favourite video game is Shenmue.

LSD: Where did the concept of the album come from?
My imagination, it came from watching movies, TV shows, cartoons and video games when I was young. It was to write music about something (and nothing) in an abstract way. I just wanted to make music noisier.

LSD: How does it feel to have such a young audience?
From the start, I have had a young audience. I prefer them to be young than old. I need to attract an old man, an old woman, maybe? It’s better to hear this than shitty pop rock stuff.

LSD: Are you sick of that?
Yes.

LSD: Do you live life like a video game?
I can’t die in a video game because I’m already dead.

LSD: How many lives do you have?
Hopefully nine like cats.

LSD: Have you ever been in a car accident?
One time, I was leaving a parking lot, very slowly I hit a car. It wasn’t fantastic to see. I was just really pissed off – it wasn’t my fault.

LSD: What kind of car do you drive?
I sold my Honda Civic when I was young. You can’t drive in Paris. The city makes you a very bad driver with very bad… moves.

LSD: You said you wanted to create a soundtrack for road-runners who like to drive around?
I used to say its driving music. The car is the perfect car to listen to music. It’s so much better than at home or in the club. In a way, we want to really follow the music and listen to it.

LSD: 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!

LSD: But now you have to focus on a music career!
Yeah, I’m not playing as much as I used to play. I keep my music first, but if I have time, I’m still playing games. But I’m not sitting in my apartment with closed curtains in my underwear playing a game for weeks. I’m not doing that anymore. I’m not 18, I’m 37.

LSD: Would tell those kids to grow up?
Video games are cool, for me it gives you some reflexes that you cannot learn somewhere else. I don’t know what to say to kids.

LSD: 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.

LSD: What’s the weirdest or craziest track on the album?
Maybe the way Sebastian sings on the Odd Look track. It’s a strange voice where he’s not singing anything. He’s making it up. That’s the weirdest.

LSD: How was it producing the album with Sebastian?
Working with Sebastian was normal, he’s one of my best friends. He was really cool to work with, it wasn’t a pain in the ass or something. It was playful but smart at the same time.

LSD: What is danger to you? Is it something you’re always close to?
No, I don’t feel that way.

LSD: 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 was the question?