As music folklore would have it, just 30 of them were pressed. They were individually wrapped and sent to music tastemakers. The 12 inch record was emblazoned with a black and white image of a young man with a mop of long, dank looking hair and inside a brief amount of release information and some contact details. Instead of a bio or a press release was a 16 page newspaper containing black and white photos of a recording studio and a brief message from a man called Adam Bainbridge."It struck me that the people you choose to work with, to surround yourself with in life and those you choose to love – these people say as much about you as you could ever hope to express in your own words." Up until that point, that is all anyone knew about Bainbridge, or his musical alter-ego, Kindness.
I caught up with Bainbridge in an effort to peel back some of the layers and reveal the inner workings of this enigmatic new figure, talk about his debut album World, You Need a Change of Mind, and Australian tour, with some surprises - including an obsession with Australian Masterchef. But more on that later.
Kindness has created an air of mystique around himself, through the unmarked packages, a refusal to do interviews in the early days and the fact that he has no presence at all on Facebook and Twitter and his website is just a giant blown up picture of his album artwork with no links or information. The only thing that respresents him is a Myspace that was opened in 2007 with no pictures of himself and a few early demos.
“It's not really a deliberate conceit. It's something that was important at a moment in time because it seemed inappropriate. It was important to keep myself to myself and say very little because there wasn't a lot to tell. I always have a feeling that artists like Neil Young or Jack White or Daft Punk – fair enough , they should be regaling the world with stories of their recording process. But for an artist on their first album, it still seems a little bit presumptious... because thers'a quantifiable demand for that information from me that now I'm saying 'well fuck it', I'll give it to you because I give very little else, especially online.”
But Bainbridge's reluctance to give too much of himself too early is understandable when you take into consideration artists like XL Recordings' Jai Paul, who is being hounded by the indie music press, despite only having released two singles.
“Well, that's the thing. Theres no way you can win in that situation because you have the NME last year who wanted to run an article about myself and Jai Paul and another guy, King Cruel, guys who are deliberately obscure about themselves.”
Bainbridge has mixed feeling about doing interviews, still to this day, even though he comes across as perfectly charming and friendly in conversation.
“I'm conflicted because there's a lot of potential to explain myself and there's a lot of potential to misexplain myself because I'd rather have everything that comes as straightforward and genuine and sincere, but you cant help but going on weird tangents.”
World, You Need a Change of mind is a genre-bending pastiche of house, disco, funk, pop and electro, and is the kind of thing that induces music journalists to make up dumb new genres such as “no-fi electro-funk pop”, “elastic funk with a sunny disposition”, “hazy minimalist pop” and “slinky disco punk”.
A lot of the songs have been kicking around for a few years now.
“Two of them have been around since the mid 80's,” laughs Bainbridge, referring to the two cover songs on the album, Swingin Party by The Replacements and Anyone Can Fall in Love, which is a cover of the theme to Eastenders. Yes, as in the UK soapie, although both songs are almost unrecognisable compared to their original counterparts
Adam had never met Phillipe Zdar before starting work on the album. Zdar is well known as one half of French indie house duo Cassius, and has worked as a producer with the likes of Phoenix, the Rapture, Kanye West and the Beastie Boys.
“His legacy in music and his production work is really attractive to a debut artist who wants to nail the vision they had in mind. I always had a vision of recording in a fairly traditional studio with lots of instruments and lots of gear and a mixing desk and he has all that and he's always using it.”
Although he's a solo artist, when Kindness comes down under to perform at Vivid Live in Sydney and a Modular party in Melbourne, he'll travel with a band of six people. “I never imagined we could have that many musicians and do so much of the album live on-stage.”
Although he's been writing and recording music for a few years, Adam has relatively little experience in actually performing live as Kindness. Apart from a few random gigs before the release of the album he'd never played much and in fact as I speak to him on the phone has still only clocked up 12 or 13 shows.
“It's quite new and its quite chaotic but we're having a good time... We want everyone to bare with us during the whirlwind of crazy. We get quite tired – it's a really physical album to play live.”
His main interests in coming to Australia are not what you expect.
“Australian Masterchef, I'm a huge fan of Masterchef. Although your Masterchef Junior in Australia is a little more dry than the British version. The British version is great because they're really sassy. I don't know, you've been bringing up your kids too well, they're a bit boring on TV. I would like a little more spark from your 8 year olds in future please.”
So what does he expect in this fine land of ours?
“Fine dining, mild winters, fantastic musically educated audiences and perhaps a barbecue? If there could be an eight year old cooking the barbecue that would be fantastic.”
BY ROSE CALLAGHAN
Kindness plays with Tom Vek and Jonathan Boulet at the Hi Fi Bar with on Thursday 24 May and Vivid Live at Sydney Opera House [Studio] on Saturday 26 May.