Monday, October 27, 2008

Interview with No Kids' Nick Krgovich

Things have been ridiculously hectic (and painful) here on my end. I twisted my knee, my kid had a low grade asthma attack (which prevented me from going to see No Kids.. Sorry Jeff!!!), and I've been handling some extracurricular activities at work.

So I've had a rather full plate lately. It kinda sucks.

But we've had this interview sitting in the hopper for awhile. and I wanted to get it up.

So without further adieu, here's The Shimmy Shake interview with No Kids' Nick Krgovich.

I think you'll find the interview to shed a lot of light on how he and the band went on developing the incredible sound that is 'Come Into My House.'

The Shimmy Shake: I'm going to be honest, this is without a doubt one of my most favorite albums of the year. I love it, my friends love it, my sister loves it, and these people come from all various points on the musical spectrum. And the music is sonically different from what you were making with P:ano (though I can see the relation). How'd you all go about making Come Into My House?

Nick Krgovich: I like the idea of tying records together with some sort of theme, like "no reverb" or "songs about stuffy, dissatisfied people living in New England" or "awkwardly funky dance pop". Come Into My House is really just an attempt at putting a whole bunch of disparate elements in the same setting, and trying to make it work. I was really interested in trying to marry my infatuation with late 80's/early 90's dance pop, with the melodrama of Douglas Sirk films, and the stillness of Alex Katz paintings and "This Side Of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. You know, super "collar up" vibes. I thought attempting to make an autumnal R'N'B record was a good idea for some reason.

SS: I've read in other interviews about your influences, and of course listened to the album, and you can tell that r&b and hip hop had some role in the sound. What were you listening to when writing the songs and recording? How did it become such a defining sound of the album?

NK: It really boils down to Amerie in a lot of ways. I heard "1 Thing" back in 2005 and I just thought it was the most thrilling thing to listen to. I still feel that it is the pop achievement of the decade. Ever since then I've just been taking certain aspects of R'N'B and top-40 music really seriously and it started to inform the way the songs for Come Into My House were being written. I also, got really interested in singing, and writing fairly melismatic melodies, where the notes and the lyrics just become this blur. Like "We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey. I started to get really fascinated by how there are these super weird top ten singles, where the lyrics are almost indistinguishable, yet you totally feel everything about them. It seems to antagonize the idea of what a pop song is considered to be. No more, "Yummy yummy yummy, I've got love in my tummy", now it's these long rambling lines about crying, throwing plates and Bobby Womack on the radio. I find it all really exciting and weird.

SS: I caught you on the first one at the Black Cat Backstage opening up for Dirty Projectors, and now you're opening up for Mirah. That's been pretty much touring non-stop. How's that affecting the band, and your energy in shows?

NK: Well, I wouldn't say we've been touring non-stop but we are certainly playing more often than we did as P:ANO. I think there's much to be learned from playing music in front of people, especially night after night. On our tours we generally play the same set, because I feel that each show can be wildly different even though we are playing the same material. I was just reading "Catching The Big Fish" by David Lynch, and he was going on about the "circle" between an audience watching a film and the film itself. Just how different it can be from screening to screening depending on the energy in the theatre. With P:ANO I used to be really hung up on always trying something, then moving on. The songs didn't seem to have long lives at all. I don't really feel that way now.

SS: One thing I was amazed with at the show was the ability to not so much recreate the sound on the record, but to sort of fill it out with just the three of you. What have you found to be successful in your shows in getting that really complex layered sound from the album?

NK: Luckily the arrangements of the songs on Come Into My House were constructed with a pronounced emphasis on interlocking rhythmic and melodic ideas. So, we basically decided to just focus on those as way to represent the songs live. We've ended up relying heavily on this kids keyboard from the early 90's called the Yamaha PSR-75. It's like "well, a brass section plays that on the record, but I guess we could use #57 BRASS ENSEMBLE on the keyboard instead." I think it all comes down to representing the melodic ideas, rather than worry about the instrument that will be playing it.

SS: What are you listening to now? What can't you get enough of?

NK: I really love this record called "Mountain Rock" by Dear Nora and Katy Davidson's other group Lloyd & Michael. I listen to those albums constantly. I really love Bernard Herrmann's score for "Psycho", I think that is pretty much perfect music. I love Judy at Carnegie Hall. "A Walk Across The Rooftops" by the Blue Nile. I think the new Erykah Badu is really weird and great. I could go on and on. There was a time recently when I was listening to "Stronger Than Pride" by Sade every day.

SS: One of the many cool things about the album is the feeling of the American Upper Northeast you recreate. Now that you've seen New England, what do you think?

NK: I'd been through New England before, but only briefly. I was on tour with my friend Rose in the fall of 2006 and we were listening to these R'N'B mixes I made in the van, while we were driving from NYC to Boston. We stopped for lunch in Mystic, CT and I was just like "I want to make an R'N'B album that is the aural equivalent of this feeling right now." Like porch swings, and tall ships and the movie Mystic Pizza. I also think it's important when you fall in love with an idea just to go with it no matter how arbitrary it seems. I really do love New England in the fall though, I love the idea of romanticizing something that does not need to be romanticized because it is so inherently wonderful and dreamy.

SS: You are also signed with Tomlab, a fairly prominent indie label, but a foreign one nonetheless. Do you find that having a foreign label limits your exposure here in the States?

NK: Well, Tomlab do have a North American office. I don't know, I don't really think about it. I think Tomlab are great and they put out really terrific records. We really can't say enough good things about them.

SS: I haven't bought a physical CD in forever, though I do purchase all my music legally online. But I remember going to record stores and meeting bands and how that was an incredible part of the music experience for me. What's your take on the state of digital music?

NK: I think the best thing about CDs becoming an outmoded format is that there has been a renewed interest in vinyl. I think having an album on your iPod and an LP on your shelf is pretty ideal. At the same time I find how overwhelmingly accessible music is these days to be kind of troubling. It's giving people this endless knowledge of all sorts of music that kind of adds up to nothing. I feel that having 90 billion songs on your iPod does nothing to foster thoughtful listening because there is always something to move on to. I sort of liked it when I had to listen to "Laughing Stock" by Talk Talk all the time, 'cause it was the only Talk Talk album I had. Now it's like at the click of a button you can have their whole discography, and then what?

SS: You've kind of caught the best and worst of our politics during your spring and fall tour. What are your thoughts on the election?

NK: That is probably a question for my bandmate Justin.

SS: For me, it's always interesting to see who other bands associate with, who they like playing with. Vancouver has a pretty solid music scene, but are there bands or artists you would call "friends", people you enjoy playing with?

NK: Strangely enough, even though we've been playing shows since last March, we just played our first Vancouver show on Labour Day. It was odd knowing that we've played a place like Oslo twice but not our hometown. There is certainly a scene happening in Vancouver, I think they call it the New Weird Noise Punk or something. They have shows in former meat packing plants and things like that. No Kids really don't have anything to do with it. We certainly have a kinship with all of the groups we've toured with this year: Dirty Projectors, Mount Eerie and now Mirah and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. We've also played with other Tomlab groups like Why? and Thee Oh Sees and Skeletons. We're really thankful that we've been able to meet such supportive, wonderful people over the last while.

Get "Come Into My House"

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