Kids Of 88
As he’s calling from New Zealand, it’s prudent to give Sam McCarthy a lick of leeway with tardiness. “There is a little bit of a time difference but I think it’s only two hours, not two hours twenty, so sorry about that,” he chortles. It’s no sweat; I was catching up on trash celebrity news. Miley Cyrus has got a new tattoo you know. “Is it a bong? Oh no, that was salvia wasn’t it. Which I’m pretty sure is way worse than normal weed, so I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. I’m pretty sure it’s just lawn grass covered in fly spray.” The theme of worthy, independent journalism versus dodgy or artificial whispers seems to be a theme with McCarthy. He is one half of KidsOf88, the sweetly feisty electronic outfit from Auckland. Having just released their first track Tucan from second album Modern Love, McCarthy and “straight bestie” Jordan Arts are coming to Melbourne in July to show us their new direction.
McCarthy and Arts forged their friendship at a Catholic boys’ high school in Auckland, but McCarthy admits they weren’t chums straight away. “We were both kind of the young musician types... both really, really amazingly awkward. And we would walk out in the schoolyard and look each other up and down like ‘ah, you think you know your shit’ kind of attitude. But as we got to know each other we were ‘oh, so you do know your shit,’ which was great.” He thanks his luck in having met Arts and finding such a strong connection, as he believes that the “actual integral relationship – bar whatever you work on – has to be established for those kinds of creative ideas to be easily communicated.” The two still operate out of Auckland, from the suburb of Mount Eden. McCarthy likens it to Brunswick, in that it has “the best ratio of happy families and glue sniffers.”
Despite some shifty wording on the band’s Wiki page which suggests the contrary, McCarthy says it is important to show your personality, as well as have specific personal input into any public endeavour your band might carry out. Their official site acts as a gate to the guys’ Tumblr, which is filled with pretty, understated photographs from their travels. “Most band websites have always felt a bit unnatural; always updating in really overzealous ways. We’ve always been more about being personable and just letting people know who we are, as opposed to being hypey. [The site is] basically full of photos of what we do and then we use Facebook to communicate with people. Or what I do is just upload cat gifs,” he clarifies.
The video for Tucan is directed by Levi Beamish, whom Arts has known since he was four, and depicts the gorgeous and misty foliage in a rainforest north of Auckland. “We went about five hours out to where [Beamish] is from, and just kind of captured this amazing region. A lot of people say ‘It’s very New Zealand’... we weren’t exactly going for a New Zealand aesthetic. Moreso, we wanted to show appreciation for the natural side of things, and the rhythms that come with nature and how you can kind of pick that up with music.” The track itself is a dreamy story studded with synths, claps and a great beat which sounds like the drums in classic Iko Iko (“My grandma and your grandma, sitting by the fire...” from the Impulse Alive ad, if you’re a female kid of ’85).
While McCarthy admits the production has always been a heavy part of the band’s music, he speaks about the core song with importance. “Whenever we’re writing lyrics or writing melodies it has to be just with the chords and the melody, so you can play it at a party on a guitar and it would still sound alright even next to the recorded version. If it’s a good song, it’s a good song.” In regards to equipment, he reflects on the duality of electronica: “We really love old analogue synths; the way that they feel. And that is a very tangible thing as opposed to organising everything on a MacBook... there has to be that feeling there and the easiest way to translate that is so you can hear that it’s coming out of someone’s fingers or out of their voice. It’s about an electronic environment with that human feel to it.”
Despite previously saying the band’s Wiki doesn’t know what it’s on about, McCarthy is surprised to hear that information regarding their second single is out of the bag and up on the maligned page. Tucan was not a heavily-promoted release; the boys just wanted to let people hear what they’d been doing, but McCarthy confirms the next “proper” single will be Bad Talk. The video for this one should be something to look forward to as well: “We’ve always been really into visuals, design and photography. I suppose it’s just another aspect of our expression. I think that they’re very important in regards to how you portray yourself.” An independent spirit isn’t something these boys take lightly, and will ensure they remain true to their own sound as their careers progress, undoubtedly, upwards from here.
BY ZOË RADAS
KIDS OF 88 play the The Espy on Friday June 15.