Kindness is the nom-du-plume of one Adam Bainbridge, born in the distinctly un glamourous town of Peterborough in the Northeast of England. Over recent years, the long-haired, pouty-lipped singer has carved out a niche as a purveyor of a slick, disco/R&B-inflected pop music. His second album, ‘Otherness’, came out in October, but with people looking ahead to a new year, I find Adam worrying that his bouncing baby LP will be thrown out with 2014’s bathwater.
“I’m just starting to play the new record live, really,” says Adam, “but it’s part of the general process of consuming new music that albums have a lifetime of about a week, and then people move on. It can be tough when you spend a couple of years on an album, and you put so much of yourself in it, and it gets swept away in the tsunami of new releases.”
The reviews for the record have been mixed but tentatively positive. Some praised the detailed production and authentic sound, and the coherence of the songwriting; others bemoan a certain aloofness in the vocal delivery, a rigid adherence to past styles. I wonder if, as Björk did in the aftermath of ‘Vulnicura’, Adam feels like the post-release period is a time to get to know his own album in a new way, by expressing it verbally in interviews, and absorbing the critical responses.
“I don’t have a death wish, so I don’t read the reviews,” he laughs. “I feel like that would be a quick way to a mental asylum. I’m definitely not looking for anyone’s approval, and I would never release an album unless I was totally happy with it and I thought it had something to give.”
“I found it interesting when Björk said she was reading her reviews, though,” he continues. “I think it’s extremely brave considering it’s such a personal record. I think she’s tougher and more interested in catharsis than I am, because I just couldn’t do that. It kills me to see the interpretation of someone who doesn’t know me about my music, especially when it questions my motivation, or something stylistic. It doesn’t help me to know those opinions.”
Adam is on the record about his wishes to keep Kindness moving forward with each album—and about the postmodern, flitting nature of contemporary songwriting, which allows for constant reinvention and the incorporation of new sounds and influences in his music.
“I think that’s the most privileged part of the era we live in,” he says. “We have so much good stuff from the past to reflect on, as well as all the interesting, contemporary, and somewhat futuristic music—it would be lazy to overlook all that. When there’s a new band that sounds exactly like Zeppelin or The Kinks, you really want to say, ‘That’s really been done already, to perfection.’ But then, I’m guilty of that too—I make records that are definitely sonically inspired by a past era. People may find very little difference between what I’m doing and my inspirations.”
And what of the craft element of creating a specific, vintage kind of sound? “I’m fascinated by the technical side of recording, but intimidated too,” says Adam. “Sometimes I hear a sound in my imagination, but find it very hard to get there in the real world—I don’t even know how to vocalise what I’m thinking of… it’s hard to reach it. So I’m happy to learn things if I can, but it’s genuinely very complicated—the studio gear, the mixing process, even inside the computer. I listened to the Björk record and was gobsmacked by the quality of the mixes. It’s intimidating to know it’s someone my age, using the same tools, that sounds that good—I wouldn’t know where to start.”
The band heard on ‘Otherness’ was assembled in cities around the US and Europe, including friends and colleagues in New York City, Los Angeles and Stockholm. So whilst Adam enjoys reconnecting with the players when the opportunity allows, the makeup of his touring band is also evolving as his next tour approaches. “The Sónar show is part of a pretty long trip,” he says. “We’ll play Copenhagen, Stockholm, Reykjavík and New York, and then an American tour after that. I wish we had more time in Iceland, we’ll only be there for 24 hours. I haven’t been out there before but I have some friends in Iceland—we almost came out in 2012 but we had to cancel, so it’s nice to finally be on my way.”
And whilst this is a flying visit, Adam harbours wishes to come back and spend more time in Iceland when the pressure of touring has lifted. “I have an affinity with the kind of extremity the nature there has,” he finishes. “I spent a few months in the desert in Texas last year—it can drive people a little crazy, but I liked the intensity of it. It’s a perfect antidote to spending too much time in the city.
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