This Is Fake DIY

Interview// Unicorn Kid

With a host of prestigious remixes under his belt, as well as the upcoming single release of ‘Need U’, soon to be followed by a debut LP, Neu headed over to a West-London bistro to catch up with Unicorn Kid, on his last trip down to London for some time. As the multi-talented musician was working his way through a small portion of fries we threw a handful of questions his way: discussing the new single, his early stages as an artist and the eventual product of these past few years: His forthcoming album.

How are you enjoying your time back in London?
Good, yeah it’s good. I’ve just been so stressed; I was finishing my album yesterday and I’ve been kind of finishing it off and just going, going and going everyday, writing stuff so it’s nice to have a break now, you know.

Then you did a remix of Grimes’ recent single, do you feel that your career has changed dramatically since then?
Not yet, no. I’m still waiting on like the big break, but it’s been good so far. I mean I went quiet for a few months, but it’s good that things are picking up again and that I’m going forward, and I got to go to America and stuff like that, so I’m really excited about it. But yeah, it’s been good, it’s been cool.

So you have a new single due.
…Yeah, I got ‘Need U’ coming, yeah.

Are you happy with the reaction and the final piece, considering that it’s not even been released yet?
Yeah I’m happy with the album, and it’s done now, it took three years to write, or something like that, so it’s just good to finally have a record coming out, because it’s been coming in drips and drabs with little singles coming out and that, so yeah, I’m happy with it.

How did you hook up with director Raphael Pavon?
Ah yeah, I wrote like an initial treatment where I said that I’d like to fall in love with a fictional anime girl from a video game, and he just took that idea and went from there. And basically we just sent out that idea to as many directors as possible and they came back with their ideas. And we’ve actually decided to work together on another video that we’ve not shot yet, which we’ll probably shoot next year, for another song. But I was really happy with how that video came out: he took a totally different view on it from how I had wanted, basically, and it was better than my original idea.

And you’ve been receiving a load of support from Radio One, that must feel pretty special?
Yeah it has been good, it comes in drips and drabs, as when I first started out it was the smaller stations, the kind of local ones, and then it was like Huw Stephens and Grimmy (Nick Grimshaw) and stuff, but it’s cool to have Fearne Cotton playing stuff, you know. It’s really good.

So you say that the album is finished, what can we expect from it?
It’s basically just a collection of like pop, because I always wanted to write pop music, even from the start, because it was just my intention to try and have just a weird take on pop music, so it is pop – but it just covers a whole bunch of genres, as I’ve never really just stuck to one, and even after reinventing my sound last year, it’s still kind of at the core of it, you have pop sensibilities and stuff, so yeah: it’s like a bunch of different tracks, all within the same sort of soundscape, the same aesthetic. Be it like dub-step or drum and bass or house or whatever, it’s all just different genres but it’s all contusive in the same way.

How did the recording process go?
It was in my bedroom, pretty much the whole thing, apart from the vocals everything was done in my bedroom and mixed in a studio in London by a guy called Ian Masterson, who recorded all of the vocals and mixed all of the tracks, so it’s been weird, doing a whole album in my bedroom, so for the next one I’ll probably get into a studio or something like that.

It must have been a pretty special time recording your debut album in your own house?
I think that a lot of normal people are doing that now, just setting up bedroom studios because, really, I don’t use a lot of hardware, it’s mostly just done on the computer, you don’t really need anything more than a decent set of monitors and a computer that can run quickly enough for you to write stuff, so I think it’s actually the new way of writing music. You wouldn’t realise the amount of stuff that’s just done in a bedroom, these days.

And the record is self-produced, do you find it easier or harder, doing it all by yourself? 
Yeah, I find it difficult to write with other people when it comes to my music, so I could never sit in a room with like five-people as it’d be really difficult – as I can’t write with any other people in the room. I’ll spend just a whole day trying to figure out just one melody, so I can’t imagine these people that sit in a room full of pop stars and write a whole pop song in just one day. It’s just so difficult for me. So yeah, I think even with the second album and stuff like that, I prefer doing stuff by email or stuff, and do back and forward with stuff like that. I work a lot better solitary, you know.

How do you go about writing your music?
It’s difficult because there’s still no concrete way for me to set out and write a song, it always needs to have an idea of like an image in my head or just like an idea, or having watched a movie or something like that. For the intro song to the album, I’d just finished watching “The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift” and I wanted to do a song that sounded like drifting through Tokyo really late at night, with speakers blasting super, super loud. So I downloaded a bunch of engine noises and just kind of started working with them and a drumbeat and went from there, because I had an idea. I mean when you have an idea in your head a song becomes much easier to write, but it just seems to be getting that core centre of the song and fleshing it out. There’s no fixed formula for writing my music, and I don’t just go about it in a kind of calculated-robotic way, as that never seems to work out.

You often get pigeonholed as a young artist, how does that feel and affect you?
I’m like 20 man! It’s just weird. When I first started out I was like 16 years old, so I suppose it was a legitimate thing to say back then, but I also think it made me sort of over-exposed as I was younger, and people always want to write about anyone that’s doing anything when they’re like 15-16. So I think they gave me a little too much attention back then, and I wish that I could have waited until now to start things, but that’s just the way it is.

Then to finish off, what are your plans for the next six months?
I have a few UK dates and then I’m off to America in a few weeks to do CMG, which is a conference in New York, and then I’m doing some LA shows and stuff around Europe, then I guess I’ll see what happens with the singles and do some more press and then I suppose I’ll just start working on the second record, really. It took me about three years to write this one, so I want to get a bit of a head start and to, by this time next year, have a second record finished.


Jonathan Hatchman

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