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Interview: Kid A

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The consensus of what a new female music star should look like, sound like and act like is completely confounded by the soft-spoken, intelligent figure sat across from me.

Kid AFitting the mould is not something that Kid A is adept at doing. Nothing about her route to the release of new single ‘BB Bleu’ fits in with the norm.

Kid A - AKA Ann Alexander Thweatt – speaks softly but energetically how she has found herself on the verge of releasing her own idiosyncratic aural style on the world.

As with all female artists thrust into the pop spotlight, before people can even consider her stunning voice and the music that envelopes it they have to come to terms with who she is.

“People [are] really surprised when they do meet me, realising that I am not Scandinavian or something like that. Sometimes when people hear my music before meeting me they are a bit taken aback. Like, "oh I thought you were Scandinavian or something like that!” The voice and the image just don’t go together for some people, I guess.”

Her “image” is not exactly a female pop convention either, something that she feels makes it harder for her talent to get noticed through the expectations.

“Unfortunately, I’m sure there are a lot of great singers, and a lot of women who are doing the same thing that don’t necessarily have the same contacts that are trying to break out, that aren’t getting the attention because of that. I think we are missing out on a huge generation of talent.”

“It’s always that you should look pretty all the time, not from this label, but societal wise you are expected to fit a certain mould. It’s strange. But I like breaking all those moulds and ideals.”

Far from the icy beauty of Scandinavia, she originates from a “very, very small and very quiet” corner of Virginia, about four hours from Washington DC, a place with no music scene to speak of but a penchant for growing talent.

“There’s music that has come out of Hampton Roads, the seven cities in the area. Pharrell is from the area, Missy Elliot, Timbaland – so there has been really great people coming out of there. But, as far as I can see, locally, there’s not really anything going on. I just isolate myself and I’m not really concerned or involved with what is going on, so there’s not really anything going on for me.”

Her own particular style comes from a somewhat stunted introduction to the wide world of music, an introduction fraught with restrictions that ultimately forged the timeless sound that can be heard on her music today.

“My grandfather was a big jazz fan so I grew up listening to a lot of Miles Davies, Coltrane, just infiltrating the house. Because growing up I wasn’t allowed to listen to anything current, so I listened to a lot of old music,” she muses.

“My mum was very strict with things I had access too when I was younger. She didn’t really like the standard or quality of the music that was on the radio, I guess the mainstream stuff that was out then so I just played old records and listened to a lot of older stations.”

She loves English 80s bands like New Order and The Style Council, and in her teens started delving in to subculture, starting to play with electronic loops and sounds. It is in the middle of this mix of classic jazz, pop sensibilities, and an outsider need to experiment that we find new single ‘BB Bleau’.

Its sparse, icy drums and warmer, textural melodies provide the perfect backdrop for Kid A's yearning, personal musings on desire. It's like a rainy-day French blues played through modular synths and transposed into US soul.

It is an ultra modern pop song, with dark undertones of lonely yearning expressing the polar, emotional extremes of being in love, amidst a floating and icy electronic pop backdrop. This delving into the dark side of love is another facet of Kid A at odds with modern pop.

“Everything I write is semi-autobiographical, I’m just writing from my soul. There’s a lot of hurt and pain there, as well as happiness, but I tend to draw on the darker experiences when it comes to love.”

From an infancy of classic sounds and pop themes, the musical genesis of ‘BB Bleu’ takes another distinct turn from the expected. Her own experiments in sound were picked up by producer Pierre Serafini, AKA Opti, and brought back to a warmer, more organic sound.

As Kid A explains, “He heard the demo, and he said, ‘usually I’m not that into loops and beats, and that, but there was just something there that really touches me and I think I can do something really different and interesting with it’, so I said sure. He created the album version.”

The final version sits alongside her original demo, which shows Kid A’s intention to display her art for all to see. “I want to show people how it started out, how my creative process works. I’m still learning as I go, as I try to produce and create. Why not show that side of things? It’s more stripped down and different, so why not?”

From the birth of the creative process, through to the definitive version something else was needed to complete the songs journey. Her hook up with Technicolor Records (a new offshoot of Ninja Tune) was bound to bare grand remix fruit, and the single comes complete with a package of essential reworkings.

Elphino brings a pumping house take to the table and label mate Dolor gives the tune a soothing ambient polish. Lastly, Kid A called on her ‘musical mentor’ Daedelus to bring his trademark playfulness and electronic wizardry.

“Daedelus and I, we used to talk on Myspace and I did a track for him way back in 2007 that was never used until his ‘Righteous Fits of Harmony' EP and I looked to him because I have always enjoyed his works and his textures and the collages he produces.”

‘BB Bleu’ is the grand gesture from a new female artist who aims to break the mould and confound convention. With a full album coming later in the year, who knows what to expect from Kid A.

‘BB Bleu’ is out on Technicolour on 3rd June.

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