Kirin J Callinan on music, Jane Campion and the Australian male

Kirin J Callinan is an emerging Australian musical artist and actor whose eclectic music almost defies classification and who the Oscar winning director Jane Campion describes as “pushing the limits of being human in the biggest sense, like he might have been raised by unicorns”.

His new album Bravado is released this week and he spoke to OUTinPerth about his music, creative process and working with Campion on the TV series Top of the Lake.

For the uninitiated, how would you describe your musical style?

It’s about the exploration of self and of the Australian male. It’s flashy, quirky, hyper masculine, upsetting, deep, dumb, ugly, but with some redeeming qualities as well. It has humanity and honesty and I think it’s original and has many different sounds.

From my first record to this one I’ve gone from being quite self serious about how my work is perceived to quite the opposite and just being open hearted and wanting it to be judged on its own merits, existing out of fashion or any musical style that’s non discriminatory and fun.

In the press there’s been a range of opinions about the intention of your music as to whether or not it’s musical parody or meant to be taken seriously how do you respond to that?

Well I think I’m inherently funny and and I want to be liked just like any person but its definitely not a joke, its deadly serious. I definitely wouldn’t be investing this much time, heart and money and so much of myself into it if I wasn’t serious about it but at the end of the day it’s about the listener and what they take from it.

Did you have any musical reference points that influenced the making of Bravado?

Yeah, I was taking in a lot of stuff like the Blue Nile and Prefab Sprout who are two of my all time favourite bands to dance glitter like Avicii and Swedish House Mafia in particular. Adam Couples (who produces the record) and I were living together, sharing every meal and nourishing ourselves with food, films and music so everything we were doing we we doing together. It was very much a collaborative effort this record.

In the S.A.D (Song About Drugs) video and on Bravado there seem to be some 80’s visual as well as musical influences was that intentional?

Not really no but it’s 2017 and everything is so cross pollinated that you really can go any way in how you percieve the record, it all subjective to personal experience.

In the Victoria M video you perform in drag how does that kind of kind of gender play mix with your exploration of the Australian Male?

I certainly explored my femininity as a much younger man more than I do artistically now and I believe gender is a sliding scale that’s always moving, changing and evolving. I still like to dress up and wear make up but it was never really more than about doing it because I could.

What was working on Top of the Lake with Jane Campion like?

It was a privilege to be involved in the first place and I’m a big fan of her work and she has maintained a strong sense of emotion, spirit and humanity through all her work and I just saw the whole series at the BAFTAs in London and it was unbelievable so I’m really looking forward to that coming out.

Kirin J Callinan performs live Saturday June 17 at the Rosemount Hotel in North Perth and Sunday the 18th at Mojo’s Bar in North Fremantle.

Clinton Little

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