Apr 11, 2012 1:08PM

Oyster #98: Kindness

"I googled you while the line was dead."
Oyster #98: Kindness

Our current music issue Oyster #98 features up-and-coming British artist Kindness. I've talked about him before, but now his debut World You Need A Change Of Mind is out, and it's a contender for album of the year. I spoke with him about his bass riffs, his modelling career and his famous parents.

Just as we were closing this issue, I received an email from a record label about their latest signing Kindness (aka Londoner Adam Bainbridge). The email appealed to me in many ways: it was very short, it contained a photo of the artist looking handsome, it likened his music to that of artists I liked (Grace Jones, Tom Tom Club and Ariel Pink), and it contained a link to a music video that was better than anything else I’d heard or seen this year. It was decided: I had to interview him.

Ariane Halls: Thank you for doing this interview. I’ve only read one other with you, actually... 
Adam Bainbridge: No, you’re very welcome. I need to warn you that I can’t hear you very well. [Talks louder] Is this better?

Marginally. It’s louder, but not clearer. Perhaps it’s because of the distance. Adam is in London. I am in Sydney. I decide to assume he is joking.

It is a very long way.
Do you think this might be better on Skype?


We spend two minutes awkwardly trying to swap Skype details. Before we are able to achieve this, the line goes dead. The nice lady from the record label calls me back and reconnects us for take two.


Hi again! Is this any better?
It’s a little bit better — have I added you on Skype? Did you get my request?

No, because I didn’t finish telling you my Skype name.
Oh, but I’ve found you already. There’s a pending request!

How exciting!
See, that was my Google skills. I googled you while the line was dead.
Being googled is my second-greatest interview-related nightmare. The first has to do with the time Frank Ocean made me cry.

Do you google everyone that you’re going to be interviewed by?
[Laughs] I don’t, but now I’m going to. Hmmm... It says ‘pending’ on my end.
As I attempt to get Skype working, there is approximately one minute of uncomfortable silence, during which I can only assume he is googling me to an even greater extent. He may even be scrolling through Google Images.
Again, it could take a long time to get across to you.

Well, while I’m waiting, I guess I should ask some questions.

I was actually going to ask if you had googled me, because I would most definitely google someone if they were about to interview me. What came up? Anything bad?
Oh, I haven’t had a chance to look yet.

I immediately regret my question.

I was actually more intrigued when I googled ‘Oyster Magazine’ — not knowing what that was — and there was quite an interesting list of suggested third words. Do you want me to read them out?

Yes! What were they?
Well, the first suggested third word was ‘Tumblr’, so I’m thinking you have a very interesting Tumblr. Is that true?

Yes, correct.

We do have a very interesting Tumblr! You can see for yourself: tumblr.oystermag.com.

K, good. The next one is Solange — is that, like, Solange Knowles?

Oh yeah, because I interviewed her a few months ago.
It must have been a killer interview, then, if it’s the second result on the internet.

It may have been because BET — the Black Entertainment Television website — put it up. They particularly liked the fact that her hair was “natural”.
Ah, OK. Interesting! And then the rest of the results seem to be about getting a job at your magazine, so that’s another good sign.

Oh, would you like a job?
Just as I am about to offer him an internship, the line goes dead yet again. Luckily, Skype pulls through and we are finally able to hear each other.

Hello! Is this better?
Oh, this is a thousand times better. It’s like night and day.

Adam’s Skype profile photo is of an extremely happy-looking Eddie Murphy sitting in a hot tub.

Is that what you really look like?
Yes. That was my passport photo two years ago.

It’s amazing that they let you through post- 9/11.
I know. You’re not technically meant to smile these days, but I got away with it somehow.

This has taken ten minutes out of my allocated 20. I decide to ask some music-related questions.

How would you describe your music to someone that isn’t familiar with it?
Someone with a brain, or someone without a brain?

With a brain.
So, someone intelligent who knows their music, or… 

Yes. Someone with a wide-ranging musical knowledge.
With a repertoire. Someone with a repertoire.

Yes. A musician, even. A good one.
Oh, right. It’s like Andrew Lloyd Webber produced by The-Dream.

As someone who was subjected to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Premiere Collection at childhood dinner parties and obsessively follows The-Dream (producer of ‘Umbrella’, ‘Single Ladies’ and a song called ‘Panties to the Side’) on Twitter, this is basically my ultimate genre.

I’m a huge Andrew Lloyd Webber fan. What is your favourite of his works?
Hmmm. ‘Babe I’m Gonna Make You Sweat’ I think was one of his finest operettas, but I’m not sure it was commonly performed outside of England.

I don’t know of it — it must not have been on the Best Of.
I think it’s what’s called, you know — like Off-Broadway? We have these Off… Off-Colour performances, and it might have been part of one of them.

Did you grow up listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber? Where are you from, originally?
I’m from Peterborough, which is a kind of commuter-belt town outside of London.

And what did your parents do?
Well, my father is Andrew Lloyd Webber, and he writes operettas and musicals, and my mother is Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

Music-related questions are proving to be less enlightening than I had hoped.

Oh, so you were born into great wealth.
And music. Music was a constant source of pleasure and joy in our household.

Speaking of music, the video for ‘Gee Up’ is very good. Well done.
Thank you, thank you very much.

How much of that is because of you?
Well, I’m not playing all the characters, if that’s what you mean.

How much input did you have into the video, then?
All of it, but every egomaniac would want to have 100 percent creative control over everything that happens. It was my Larry David moment, and it was a pleasure.

How does it work? Do you have a band, or is it just yourself? Have you played live before?
I’ve played live twice, now.

Oh yes, you had the album Live in Philadelphia… 
Well, the title is a little bit tongue-in-cheek, because not much of it is live. That was also difficult, because it was really just me on my own most of the time, so there’s a lot of overdubbing. But in real life, with real, live musicians, it’s six people: I sing, I play bass guitar for about 30 seconds and then give it back to the guy who’s a better bass player, and that’s it; it’s a big gang of British people.

Do you play bass in ‘Gee Up’?
I don’t, because it’s quite difficult and I need all my powers of concentration just to sing in tune.

My boyfriend plays bass. I made him listen to it and he enjoyed it.
Well, tell him thank you, and that anyone can write bass riffs like that if they just persevere.

I look at my notes and realise I have exhausted my list of music-related questions. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at things), I have a Plan B.

I was out quite late last night with my workmates, and seeing as this interview was scheduled for 8 am I asked them for help with my questions. One of them suggested that I ask “If you weren’t a model, what would you be doing?”
If I weren’t a model?

But… Oh, because… right, I get you. Well, I’d probably be making films, because modelling is something I can only do for a finite period of my life. We burn out so quickly in this career, and thinking about what happened with Aggy and the other top kids in my generation, you want to have something to fall back on — like an acting career, or filmmaking. 

Have you been studying acting?
No, modelling is really a full-time thing at the moment, but it’s something I’d like to do in the future.

Next question: do you have a Facebook, and if so how many friends do you have?
I don’t have a Facebook, but I have 10,000 friends.

Oh, that’s lovely. You must meet a lot of people through modelling.
I do. I’m actually on the model Facebook, which we try to keep a secret, but it’s there. If you scratch the surface we’re all linked somehow.

I am jealous of Adam not having a Facebook. My Facebook feed is like a constantly updated list of things that annoy me. Which brings me to my next question...

What kind of people annoy you?
The under-informed.

That’s it?
And people who answer questions without very many words. That really annoys me.

Well, I should get off Skype. I have another interview soon. It’s with these twin girls from Australia — they used to be models, actually, like yourself...
Oh, tell them to hit me up on modelbook.com.

Of course. But they now write songs for people like David Guetta and Kesha.
They do? I’m not sure how this is going to sound, but you should tell them to find another career, and quickly, because they are only bringing pain and misery to the world, and we’re such beautiful people that the world doesn’t deserve it. They should go back to modelling.

Perhaps you should tell them yourself, on Modelbook.
At this point the connection cuts out completely. I do, however, receive an email shortly after:
To: ariane
Subject: skype
apparently it couldn’t cope. thanks for the chat, it was a pleasure. please say hi to my old friends, and be sure to remind them of the pact models sign when we turn pro-musicians. they’ll know the pact i’m talking about. signed in blood.
have a great day, all the best from blighty.



From our Music Issue, out now!

Photography: Nicole Maria Winkler