Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Q&A: Unicorn Kid

It's been a busy year for Unicorn Kid. The Scotland teen spent much of 2010 remixing tracks for the likes of Gorillaz and the Pet Shop Boys, and rocking out at festivals with his unique brand of dub step-influenced chiptune. Indies and The Underground managed to catch up with the Kid to talk unicorns, production techniques, the inspiration behind the "Dream Catcher" video and using Gameboys as instruments.

How did you come with the name Unicorn Kid?
I was 16 when I first came up with the name, I think I was just heavy into unicorns at the time, the name has totally lost all meaning to me now.

What were your early musical influences? 
Even since I was really young I've listened to so much music across a broad spectrum of genres, I don't really think any of it has ever directly influenced my music as such, I've always tried to stay focused on my own idea and separate it from my listening habits. Sometimes I go through week long phases of only listening to one type of music, my tastes vary so much that if I didn't keep that separate that from my own music then it would probably all come out a mess. That being said I do listen to a lot of early video game sound tracks and a lot of chip music, I get a lot of rhythmic and textural inspiration from there.

When did you begin producing/making beats? 
I first began messing around with electronic music when I was 14, I got hold of this Casio VL-1 keyboard and would spend hours layering different drum patterns and melodies to make songs. I then started to experiment with circuit bent toys and through researching that found out about the 8-bit/chip music scene. 

You done a couple of remixes for Pet Shop Boys and The Gorillaz. What other artists would you like to collaborate with? 
I've been working with a few artists to add vocals on some tracks, I'm thrilled with everybody I'm lucky enough to be working with, although I don't think I can say whom yet. 

The video for "Dream Catcher" is, for lack of a better word, very dreamlike. What was the visual inspiration for the video? 
I came across this guy called Alan Jensen on Vimeo, he's my age and had been making these beautiful rich videos for songs that he liked, I found his email and contacted him about working on a video for me. Alan is based in the US so a friend and I had to shoot some of the footage for the video down at the beach then send it over to him, from there Alan mixed it with footage of his own then edited and coloured it all. The idea behind the video was to create something abstract, like something found on a sun-damaged VHS tape. 

You were enrolled in an art school in Edinburgh before deciding to pursue music full time. Have any artists or graphic designers had an influence on your visual style (i.e. album artwork, etc.)? 
Lately I've been taking a lot of inspiration from sports-based NES games like T&C Surf Designs and California Games, as well as 1980s teen movies like Thrashin' and Teen Witch. I've been basing all my current artwork around that nostalgic 1980s summer/beach aesthetic and displaying it in a pixel art/video game art context. I'm a big fan of artists such as Laura Brothers, Paul B Davis and Videogramo, I wouldn't say that there is any immediate influence there but I am fascinated by the raw digital nature of their work.

Being that your music is so digitized/electronic-based, is it hard to translate the sound into a live setting?

I think people's concept of what constitutes 'live music' is changing and the live performance of solely electronic music is perhaps becoming more widely accepted. Playing between guitar-based acts can be awkward sometimes, but if I'm doing a headline show then the crowd know what they are in for and are generally up for it, I just try to create as energetic an atmosphere as possible. 

What kind of sound your fans expect from your full-length album? 
I have spent most of the past year at home now and the things I have released during that time are quite different from the tracks I am working on for my album. I've been working with a bunch of different vocalists, they're all artists that I'm a huge fan of and I'm excited to get some of the vocal material out there, it's quite 'pop' I guess, and still stays true to my sound but is a lot more refined and well thought out than anything I've produced before. I've been trying to keep the musical and visual side of the project coherent so I guess you could say the artwork reflects how 'sunny' some of the new music is. 

Do you plan on adding vocals or guitars, keyboards and other instruments? 
Yeah, there are vocals on around half the album tracks. The only real hardware I've used on the new material is a Game Boy, everything else is computer generated. 

What are your upcoming plans? 
I'm working on finishing the album and working it into a new live set for the spring. I'm also working on a pixel art zine to coincide with the release of my first single from the album, it will contain pixel art based on the album's imagery and aesthetic, following a loose plot line about a teen girl who has fallen in love with a skateboarder from The Valley. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails