kirin j callinan wants everybody to love him, and they probably will

i-D rang Kirin to talk about his new single, but ended up talking about Instagram thirst, catsuits and popularity.

by i-D Staff
21 October 2015, 4:30am

Kirin J Callinan's stock just keeps going up and up. Alert a wolf on Wall Street. His debut record, Embracism, introduced him to us as an original, if erratic, performer. Other people noticed him too, which meant Kirin's had a busy couple years. He's been touring with Mark Ronson, Tame Impala and his own band Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders. He also just wrapped up a solo Australian tour. It's a schedule that testifies to Kirin's love of performing, or at least, being seen.

Now it's time for Kirin to focus on his own upcoming record, which is due in 2016. His newly release single, The Teacher, is our first taste of what's ahead. We loved it, so we called Kirin to chat about the new album, but ended up talking Instagram instead. It was better that way.

Hey Kirin, I just gave your new song, The Teacher, a couple plays. It's hot, it's sexy, it's loungey.
It is loungey. It's jazz fusion-y. It's a metaphor, but that really doesn't matter. If you've had any sort of intense sexual relationship with a teacher, or anyone in an authoritarian position, you'll understand. It's an odd choice for a single, being a six minute long lounge number.

Perhaps the other tracks you've got are twelve minutes long, and this is the most radio-friendly thing you have. Only you know I 'spose.
I do know. The album is actually full of smash hits. That's why I liked this one.

Is there a Grammy in it?
I'd love, love, to get some silverware. I've got an empty cabinet just waiting to get filled up.

I read your press release earlier, and it says you have new facial hair.
Oh, excellent. I do have a moustache right now. However, I did have a full beard recently which was a first for me. I say full beard, but it was only full as far as my facial hair goes. My beard is red and patchy at best. But it's amazing what a bit of mascara can do.

What else is new, beyond the facial hair?
Well, I made this new record which won't come out until next year, but I did it straight after Embracism, and the majority of it was recorded last year in London. This year I'm doing everything but working on it. I've been doing a lot of session stuff for other people In Los Angeles, I went on tour with Mark Ronson, I've been doing a bit of acting, and the Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders record came out and we've toured that a lot. I've been doing everything but finishing my own album.

Did Mark Ronson work on your solo project in return?
He did. He's a very busy man, as you'd imagine, he's a very in demand man. I was able to work in his studio in London. He's a very sweet fella. He's very supportive. Things are going good, I think. I hope.

Where are you spending your time at the moment?
I'm in Sydney. Soon I'll be off to Europe, and I'm doing Pitchfork festival in Paris, which is a thing. A real thing. Not some thing that isn't really a thing. And good things should come from that thing. After that I'm doing this other thing, which is a David Lynch production called In Dreams. We're doing a European run across France and in the U.K and Ireland as well. Then I'll do the finishing touches on the record. It doesn't stop really, but it's nice.

Are you coping with that schedule?
It's more difficult when you're trying to work on your own things. There's so much more that goes into it, beyond recording and touring. There's so much backend stuff, and even the conceptual stuff takes so much more time and energy. I am spreading myself thin a little bit.

I love your battle with Instagram censorship. I follow it avidly.
That's good to hear. That really warms my soul. I place a lot of self worth on my Instagram, so I appreciate that. I count the followers daily, hourly. I recently downloaded the app that lets you know when someone unfollows you. Whenever somebody does I make it my personal mission to get to the bottom of it, to find out why. I'm just offended. I'm offended they didn't trust me.

Will you follow them up, go to their profile?
Oh absolutely. Absolutely yeah. If I know the person, it's a real insult. I'll give them a call straight away or send a barrage of abusive texts. In one instance recently I named and shamed. They very quickly refollowed me.

If it's what you've gotta do…
If it's someone I don't know, I'll just go to their profile and like all of their pictures in quick succession, straight after they've unfollowed me. Let them know I'm watching.

Maybe this is why you're stretched so thin.
[laughs] I do spend a lot of time on there. I've gotta cool it. I did have a breakthrough recently. I saw a profile of someone-I was working on their record in L.A-and I went to their Instagram and it was terrible. Shocking. The worst Instagram I've ever seen, potentially. I saw this one post, where the individual that will remain nameless posted a picture of their Dr Pepper. Their comment was "haven't had one of these since I was 13. #doctorpepper". I thought that was potentially the worst post I've ever seen. It inspired me to do a similarly bad Instagram post aiming to get as few likes as possible. That was a personal breakthrough for me, to break the habit of craving likes. I reprogrammed my brain to not want the likes. I did a few posts aiming for no likes.

Did it work?
I was bitterly disappointed with how many likes I still got actually. These were particularly shit posts. I was getting a lot of feedback from people along the lines of "What's going on? You've lost the plot."

What's your least liked photo?
Probably one of this weird green smoothie that I'd ordered. I don't know if it's still there, I might've deleted it. It was very ambiguous as to what it actually was. It was a green matcha smoothie, but if you looked at a photo you wouldn't know. My comment was exactly like the other fella's: "I haven't had one of these since I was 13."

#green smoothie?
That didn't do so good, which I was very happy about. If there's anyone out there with an Instagram addiction, you can fight it. Reprogram what you want from the app.

Coming back to the live shows; I'd love to see you in a catsuit. Is that something you've considered?
No I haven't, though an ex of mine used to wear a catsuit sometimes, and it was pretty sexy. I never slipped into it myself. I'm not sure why. I guess it probably wouldn't have fit me. I'm not sure if everybody would go for that any way. I'm a popularist. I'm trying to please everybody.

Is that really true?
Yeah, I mean, I want everybody to love me. I do. I want everybody to listen to my songs, watch my videos, see my Instagram posts and say "man I love that guy, he makes me feel so good about myself." I'd love that. I'd love to bring joy and peace to the world. Though I'm also reserved to the fact that there's different strokes for different folks. Not everyone's going to go for what I do. I can't help that, I can only be myself.

It's interesting that you say that, because a lot of what you do looks like you're making fun of Australian masculinity.
That's true. But another inherently Australian quality is the ability to be able to laugh at yourself. I like it when people poke fun at me, to a certain extent of course. I like to poke fun at things, that should be endearing.

I think that's very endearing.
It is. It's a good thing.

Mark Ronson
Kirin J Callinan
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the teacher