Kavinsky spoke to NME about what to anticipate from his long-awaited second album, ‘Reborn,’ as well as the possibility of a new collaboration with The Weeknd. Last week, the French electro-pop pioneer, whose real name is Vincent Belorgey, released the track “Zenith” along with news of his first album in nine years. Kavinsky will now release ‘Reborn’ on March 25 through Fiction / Virgin Music France, marking his first full-length release since his 2013 debut ‘Outrun’ (which included his breakout single, the Drive-featuring ‘Nightcall’).
Kavinsky explained how the sound was wider and bolder with lush, futuristic electronic soundscapes, while remaining true to his electro-pop beginnings. “The first album was really an album from its era,” Kavinsky told NME. “Listening to it now, it sounds like it was from back-in-the-day. With this new album, I tried to record something more timeless.”
He continued: “It’s a much warmer sound, a more laid-back, less excited sound. If you compare the last album to driving a fast car, this is more about driving the car slowly. With the previous album, you couldn’t open the window! It wasn’t a part of any master-plan, it was just me recording music and being the artist that I am and this came out. There are some songs that are similar to ones I did in the past though too.”
The album’s current single, ‘Zenith,’ which he described as the follow-up to ‘Nightcall,’ is one way the album harkens back to his early work. It features both male and female vocals (Morgan Phalen and Prudence), as well as a lot of soaring synth-filled crescendos. It’s a romantic slow burner with a saxophone, but it’s also very much its own song.
“At the end of the recording sessions, it became obvious this special song was the sequel to ‘Nightcall,’” he said. “It’s got a similar movement, beat and tempo but that was very much an accident. It started with a simple guitar hook and the idea of putting a saxophone on there came soon after.
“We called a saxophone player who arrived at the studio within the hour; then the song really came into its own. It took a whole team of us to get it right,” he added, revealing that Justice’s Gaspard Augé and French musician and producer Victor Le Masne were both involved.
Meanwhile, Cautious Clay’s vocals were used on the opening track, ‘Renegade,’ which was released last November and was reminiscent of his 2013 collaboration with The Weeknd, ‘Odd Look.’ When asked how he first got to work with Abel Tesfaye, Belorgey explained: “My friend (the artist Prince 85) introduced me to him. He was one of his collaborators and producers. I happened to just love his voice when I heard it so we did our track together back then very easily, very simply. This was way before he became super huge and was really accessible and available.”
Kavinsky also stated that he and The Weeknd have been discussing collaborating again for “a long time.”
“So something might happen ≠ something might happen very probably,” he told NME, coyly. “It’s happening soon, and he is still such a nice guy.”
When the lead single from ‘Outrun,’ ‘Nightcall,’ was featured in the opening credits of Ryan Gosling-starring hit film Drive, it thrust him into the spotlight, which he described as an uncomfortable feeling for someone who, like his early mentors, Daft Punk, had created an alter-ego to hide his true self. Thanks to his mega-hit, the Drive soundtrack went to number one in the United States and the United Kingdom, with over 226 million streams to date.
“After the sudden success of ‘Nightcall’, I didn’t really want to record again at that moment,” Kavinsky told NME. “I sensed some pressure; I was scared. I was scared to imagine what my music was going to be after this success. I took two steps back and started to imagine what I was going to record after that, at my own pace. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next.”
The artist highlighted how, in the age of streaming, he is the polar opposite of artists that record swiftly, which explains the nine-year wait for the album. “Most other artists are way quicker than me,” he said. “My album is from the stone age compared to how quickly everything is going on now. But the break was [necessary] and it really helped me.
“It allowed me to breathe some fresh air; it allowed me to think and it allowed people to forget about me for a little bit so that when I felt ready to return, I could perhaps try new things.”
On his debut, Kavinsky “only recorded with plug-ins previously,” but on this album, he experimented with more equipments, instruments and collaboration. While films were a big inspiration for his first album, television has had a bigger influence on his latest, with old zombie and sci-fi shows influencing some of the songs.
“I watched more TV shows than movies for this,” he said. “Cinema is less of an influence here, but I really enjoy deciding what’s going to happen to the character I have created. I’m a musician and have no desire to direct a real movie, but as a film-lover since childhood, doing this is a dream for me.”
In between filming his music videos, Kavinsky said that, after a long hiatus from live performance, he’s currently working on a tour for the album for next year. “There are going to be some nice surprises,” he said. “I’m working on it visually and musically now, but I’m really excited about what’s to come.”
As for album number three, he told NME that fans won’t be waiting another eight years. “My next album will be ready much quicker than this one was,” he said. “It’s my intention to release another much sooner.
“I’d like fans to feel my comeback wasn’t useless. I know it’s hard to make a comeback after such a long break. But I hope they will enjoy this record being played and that it will bring them joy for a long time – certainly as much joy as I had making it.”