Kids In Despair are giving Toronto something else to talk about right now – something that isn’t Drake related.
With looks perfect for a mid 90’s throwback party and lyrics that depict some of our teenage wasteland days – it’s easy to feel like you’re 18 all over again. Take one look at their gritty low fi photos and you’re immediately captivated by the world they live in – one full of microwave dinners, second hand video games and 24 hour garages.
Their music is ridden with offensive guitars, drums and killer hooks – and we love it. With meaningful verses and big chorus hooks they completely tell it how it is, and there’s no shame at all. What might sound like just a garage band is actually far more professionally executed than some of today’s pop acts.
They’ve got everything it takes to create a huge cult following across the world with their understanding and commentary of youth sub culture today.
Toronto Paradise caught up with K.I.D. as they’re performing at the Universal Music Canada showcase for Canadian Music alongside NYC’s ‘it’ girl Ryn Weaver.
See the full interview below:
1. Tell us a bit more about your story, upbringing and how you began making music together?
We both had kind of cliche, melancholy, suburban upbringings, riddled with daddy issues. Bobby had been writing songs and tried being a frontman in a trippy analog-synth band in the ninth grade. When he gave that up, we felt inspired to work together. We played our first gig when we were 17, opening for a drag queen. Our outfits were hideous. Not much has changed.
2. A lot of successful artists have had some fairly strange and challenging upbringings. Why do you think that this can push people creatively?
If your life is wonderful then you’re probably out there enjoying it, not hiding out in a garage with some cough syrup, writing a song. Artists are storytellers and obviously the best stories have some darkness to them. “I’m getting my honours degree and my mother loves me” probably wouldn’t make for the most compelling premise to a record.
3. You guys are originally from Toronto – as a band did you find it hard to break through with your music in Toronto’s scene? Did you ever think “shit I wish I was in LA right now” ?
LOL. We’re flattered you think we’ve “broken through”. We don’t really see it that way. We still live with mom in the suburbs. That’s what the project is kind of about. Feeling stuck. What we’re doing wouldn’t make sense in LA, not now anyway. Hopefully down the road.
4. You really caught on and created a buzz with the song I Wish I Was Your Cigarette – as we all know it can be a rough industry – how did it feel when you guys got a break with this song?
It’s been cool getting recognition from real taste-makers and hearing ourselves on the radio. We’ve been gigging for like 8 years so we were honestly just starting to believe it was never going to happen. We knew ‘cigarette’ was kind of special though, it’s a punky song about oral sex, if that wasn’t gonna get people fascinated in us, what was? We don’t feel like we’ve gotten a “break” yet though, before we typed this interview we literally googled “Is Subway Hiring?”. Hopefully the real break is imminent, we’re hard at work.
5. The K.I.D (Kids In Despair) EP has just dropped under Universal Music Canada. You use cannabis as a common theme throughout the EP, how important do you think having a feeling of continuation in an album is today, so it’s not just a random collection of songs?
All of our favourite albums are either concept albums or have some kind of decipherable through-point. We’ll always do things that way. It’s funny, now people think we can only write about pot, and we’re like “HEY?! We write about other shit too…. like cigarettes”.
6. You’ve gotten a lot of praise from many major outlets regarding the freedom of your songwriting, what was the turning point for you as writers and artists to just do what you wanted and tell it like it is?
It all kind of started with “Dillon”. That song was written in like 2 minutes, stoned in Dillon’s parking lot. We were tempted to change things about it later but thought there was something cool about keeping it totally candid and unpolished. There are so many pop artists writing about partying and falling in love, we kind of feel some weird sense of obligation to write about rawer shit, like being perpetually unfit for employment, or having to clean up your drunk mother’s vomit. That’s what we’re here for.
7. Kids In Despair has an interesting and unique sound – you have the attitude and aggression of a trashy garage punk rock band, but with melodies and choruses that could become cult classics and hook in even the most commercial of listeners. Was it hard to find a balance between being credible artistically but still accessible and likeable by many?
Kind of. We just knew that the production needed to have some balls but that didn’t mean we were going to try too hard to be counter-pop with the writing. There’s no shame in a poppy melody. It’s hard to write a catchy fucking hook.
8. For a few years the music industry has been stuck on the bubblegum female pop artists, but artists like Allie X, Tove Lo, Grimes and yourselves are breaking the stereotype – is this because today’s listeners need something more real and relatable?
That’s hard to answer, we really have no idea what people want… that’s why we’re both single burnouts. We’re just kind of making the music selfishly right now to be something that we love, and hopefully people follow.
9. With Canadian Music Week becoming bigger and bigger each year in Toronto, have you noticed more of an appreciation towards new artists in the Canadian industry?
The stigma around being a “Canadian Artist” definitely seems to be fading a bit. People seem to be recognizing that fresh shit is coming out of Canada. A lot of our favorite artists are Toronto natives.
10. Kara, a lot of girls love your style ’cause you manage to make a boys t-shirt from the ’80’s look hot. How much do you think fashion and art affect your music?
That’s very nice of you. We don’t follow fashion though, we just shop at wal-mart and value village. If you’re following trends then you’re not making them. KID is more about the stories anyway.
11. What are your top 3 go-to instruments/equipment during the recording process? (a certain guitar/synth/mic etc)
We love the sound you get out of moog phatty when you run it through a crusty sounding guitar amp. We’ve also been very into more classic, timeless sounds lately. Strings, choirs, cinematic shit. But always paired with a gross sounding drum kit.
12. Best piece of advice given to you by an industry insider?
13. What can we expect from you guys over the next year? (album/tour etc)
We’re touring in the UK this month and playing some key summer festivals in Canada. Most of our summer will be spent recording the album. We hope it drops this year or early next. We’ve got some really exciting collaborators lined up.
14. Where is Paradise for Kids In Despair?
At burger king after being written a codeine prescription.
Album: K.I.D. (Kids In Despair)
Label: Universal Music Canada
Buy the album on iTunes
You can catch Kids In Despair on Saturday 9th May at Tattoo as part of Canadian Music Week.
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