Catching Up With Kindness
By Jerry Portwood
If you've read anything about Adam Bainbridge, who performs under the moniker Kindness, you might think he's a bit surly. For years he was reluctant to give interviews and often seemed (understandably) at odds with the music blogerati and press in general. But now that Kindness's newest album, World, You Need a Change of Mind, is out now, Bainbridge has decided to discuss matters to clarify any misconceptions. "I think after having put a lot of work into the album," he explains, 'It would have been quite childish for me then to say, 'I’m not doing anything, no way am I going to help support that record.' Even so, there's a lot of room for misinterpretation."
If you're in the mood for some fun-time tracks—Bainbridge admits to loving "melody and vocal harmony" and being a little "wacky"—you won't be disappointed. We caught up with Bainbridge for a phone interview after he'd played a gig in Paris, France, to ask him why he seems to be so misunderstood. And it turns out he's a super sweet, intelligent guy who you'd love to spend time with over a cup of tea. Or dancing at a club until the wee hours of the morn.
You seem to have a really well developed and eclectic repertoire of music that influences you. I assume you have a great record collection. How do you feel about Spotify and other ways that people are currently finding and listening to music?
I think that it’s been an interesting couple of years. It’s forced me to reconsider my own judgmental ideas. I’m not a huge fan of Spotify, but I’ve discoered a lot of music through YouTube. Every now and again, I’ll dip into it for what it is. I was so much more of an anal purist about these things before. But there's no right way to listening to music. Sometimes I love rips from weird fucked up YouTube compressions and find out it's the way it transferred from the vinyl and vhs. I found these rare boogie records that I first heard on the Internet; the YouTube rip blows my mind. I found the original 12-inch record and was disappointed. Maybe I should listen to it through VHS all the time.
So you're saying that the Internet is actually a huge influence on your sound?
I could never have had straightforward access without the Internet. It’s sometimes hard to dig out the even more-raw and obscure stuff unless you’re on the Internet. If you’re record shopping alone you wouldn’t find this stuff. Without the community of music nerds, I don’t think I would have been inspired as I was. What was so exciting about early days of the Internet was nerds over here and nerds over there: you'd have everything from a William Klein thing to Finnish disco. Then there’s the alternative side of it that I argue against: tumblr and Facebook become these closed-cycles of enthusiasm. If you can’t feed into tumblr from the outside, one's own wealth of aesthetic education becomes very narrowed; it's very difficult to unearth something new.
So the States haven't always been as friendly and open to dance or synth music. Are you worried about how the audiences will react?
I don't know. I had a really tought expierence in France back in the day. We went out there with the idea that we’re a little more pop, and we’re a little more songy and we dance. There’s a lot of funk base on this. I was at an experimental music festival and i thought,They’ll understand that it’s challenging. They hated it. Yes, it was the most challenging stuff they’d seen in years. Because it was goofy and wearing its heart on its sleeve. The French audience, especially in that scope of music—what they want is for you to bare your soul and see demons on stage. We came out and we were a bit Lucky Charms I guess. If you can just break into a smile once and a while and laugh along with us, then you'll have fun.
So what can audiences in New York and Philly expect? You want this to be a dance party of sorts right?
I think it’s how we really engage with what we do: it is to enjoy it. It would be pretty uninteresting and dour if it seems like a wake every time we performed; the seductive melancholy and the dark and gloomy guy silhouetted behind the mic stand. It’s pop and it’s a bit silly, and I’m a bit silly and I can’t contain myself. I might as well act up. We want to dance and we want to have a good time. I like the dangerous, chaotic, and sexy. I think people enjoy seeing a good time and dancing.
If you're ready to dance, Kindness performs tonight in New York City at Le Poisson Rouge and follows that up with a performance in Philadelphia at the 12th anniversary "Making Time" on May 18 at Voyeur. For a full list of tour dates visit Kindness's website.
Check out the new video for "House" in which Bainbridge "teaches" a song to an adorable kid. And if you really want to have fun, stick it out until around 5:20 when the dancing starts.