Kavinsky’s fans have been calling for his return for almost an entire decade. The star’s 2013 album OutRun was a smash hit that reached gold certification and (arguably) started an entirely new genre of focussed, narrative-driven music. So then why has he seemingly been in hiding for this long?
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Kavinsky explained that the reason he took so long to make a comeback was due to the fact that he wanted to completely digest his work first, before being roused by new music.
“I didn’t know when I would actually come back,” Kavinsky revealed over Zoom through a translator. “But I wanted to take the time and reflect on the music I had released before. So, I guess it took me that much time to make some new music that excites me.”
He added: “And it was really a good thing for me! Because it enabled me to reflect on the music that I have released before and start again on fresh ground, with a fresh mind.”
Surely though, the pressure from his fans must have been deafening.
After the incredible continued success of OutRun, the appetite for more Kavinsky was reaching boiling point. But he didn’t answer the call. And it seems like that’s solely down to the artist not wanting to release the same old music everyone else was.
Kavinsky said: “It’s really both coming from the fact that I wanted to come up with something new after the music I released in the past… and also the other factor – and maybe the pressure – is that people are listening to music in a new way. The world has changed.”
But this new way of constantly digesting music is not what ultimately forced Kavinsky out of “retirement” (if you can call it that).
Instead, it was the pandemic. At the risk of poring over the ongoing COVID-19 plague, Kavinsky confessed that being sat at home, alone, is what eventually forced him to address his own stifled creativity. “I had to face the fact that I wanted to make music again,” he said. “So, in a way, the pandemic was beneficial to me, because I could focus on what I wanted to do next.”
Later on, he explained how his listeners should not expect the exact same experience in Reborn as OutRun.
“It’s way slower,” he laughed. “They can definitely just listen to the album while chilling in their car, or in their living room. That’s what the album is made for.” He went on to say that this new mindset was there from the beginning of the pandemic.
Looking back on his lengthy two-year production process, Kavinsky mused: “I wanted to come up with a new sound. More lush. More soft. Less tortured than before.”
Making a comeback wasn’t an easy decision for Kavinsky, however.
He quite obviously puts a hell of a lot of thought into everything he puts out to the world. It isn’t just a new album, a bunch of singles, and some merchandise; no, he has to handcraft the entire aesthetic – the thing he is perhaps best known for.
Every single release has a corresponding Hollywood-level music video that tells another tale of the Dead Cruiser (Kavinsky’s undead antihero who stalks evildoers across shady highways and saves damsels in distress). Every piece of merchandise should allow any fan to truly live out their wildest Kavinsky fantasy.
Hell, this time round he even scored a deal with French watch brand YEMA on an exclusive (and limited edition) watch that just reached £450,000 in funding on Kickstarter in just a matter of days.
No, nothing Kavinsky releases is half-baked. But it is extremely successful.
And although he does want to continue building out the mythos of the Dead Cruiser in years to come in movies and TV shows (“I sometimes go to sleep thinking about that … one day, maybe it would happen, but no plans) Kavinsky does seem like he wants to get away from his past a little.
Since Kavinsky stepped down from music in 2013 his popularity has continued to grow steadily – perhaps thanks (in part) to Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 movie Drive. The Ryan Gosling-led movie featured Kavinsky’s track Nightcall, one of his biggest and best-known tracks. And it has become synonymous with the film – but it seems to have become a dirty word around the artist himself.
When I mentioned the movie he replied: “When I reflect on the period of when Drive was released it was really a good time for me. My music got listened to by a lot of people. A lot of people who wouldn’t have been able to listen to my music, or were listening to different kinds of music. So they discovered mine through that movie, I obviously owe a lot to this movie.”
He didn’t elaborate.
I was also interested in if he had any thoughts on how OutRun and his other early music sparked the birth of a new aesthetic-focussed music genre (catch-all’d as synthwave).
“I’ve definitely heard about synthwave,” he started, slowly. “But I’ve said many times to a lot of people, I hate to put my music in one genre, in one box.”
He quickly added: “But if ever my music would put people or musicians to work on their music and be creative, I am of course very glad about that. [But] I wouldn’t consider my music synthwave. It’s just a new word that I’ve heard of after the fact.”
Music labels and expectations aside, Kavinsky seemed excited about getting back out there for his fans. He nonchalantly noted that he was about to hit America on tour, and wanted to tour the UK as soon as possible.
But is this second album all his fans will receive for yet another ten years – or perhaps ever?
Kavinsky assured me: “I won’t wait that long again. Because in ten years I’m going to be way too old to release a new album! So, I’ll be back way sooner than before.”
Kavinsky – Reborn is out now.