This week marks the arrival of Outrun – the long-awaited debut album from Vincent Belorgey, publicly known as French electronica artist Kavinsky. Taking inspiration from Czech producer Jan Hammer and his synth-fueled composition that has carried iconic '80s TV shows such as Miami Vice, Belorgey made a name to himself due to his distinctive electronica sounds and his Ferrari Testarossa-driving zombie character Kavinsky for years. Accordingly, his music serves as the audio companion of Kavinsky's dark, sad but romantic adventures that immediately captures the imagination of the listener. His most famous song to date, "Nightcall," carried the Ryan Gosling-powered motion picture Drive by Nicolas Winding Refn, thus garnering global recognition. Outrun signifies a perfect representation of Belorgey's musical legacy so far. Reason enough to sit down with this talented artist and talk about the production of the album, his affection for Ferrari Testarossa, zombies, and of course Don Johnson.
Let's talk about your new album Outrun. You've included some songs from your previous EPs Blazer, 1986 and Teddy Boy for the album. How does it sonically adapt to your previous efforts?
That is correct. This album is not too different from my EPs. Obviously, I reworked some of the older tunes, such as "Testarossa Autodrive" or "Blizzard" for instance, and we employed the same energy when we first started working on this project. That's why I decided to feature four of my older songs because I regard them as some sort of ID for my music. It did not appear as a risk to me to include a certain part of my older material since it was only exposed to a small circle of aficionados that were familiar with my entire catalog until then. On the contrary, I think it's a great overall representation of my musical legacy so far and I let my heart speak for itself.
What made you decide to take "ProtoVision" as the lead single? How does it represent the album?
I did not want it to be the track that carries the whole album, but I felt it was an accurate representation for the LP's overall dynamics. And I hope it makes the people curious about the rest of the LP.
Boys Noize and Blood Orange did remixes of the song. What are your thoughts on both renditions?
All remixes that I have heard so far are great. Usually I choose the people who work with my music. I also listen to my heart when it comes selecting the right musicians to reinterpret my songs officially. Boys Noize was obviously a great choice since his remix was punchy and energetic. As for Blood Orange's version, I didn't even ask Dev to do it but when I heard it, it made me think of Don Johnson riding the Ferrari Testarossa in Miami Vice which is an overall stylistic inspiration for my music. That's how I knew that he understood the energy of the song as it perfectly conveys the spirit of Jan Hammer's art. It's a great voyage.
Where does the album story of a man crashing his Ferrari Testarossa resulting in him becoming a zombie come from?
When I first thought about the persona that carries my music I did not want the visual theme to merely consist of pictures of myself doing different poses. Hence, I was looking for a character not only to portray my sound but also to be the main focus/inspiration for it. This someone had to be reminiscent from '80s TV shows that I enjoyed watching while growing up, such as Miami Vice, A-Team, Magnum P.I., or even Fall Guy. I thought a hip, sexy, flamboyant type of zombie would be a fitting representation for that. Obviously I took inspiration from Don Johnson's character in Miami Vice, Sonny Crockett.
Why the Ferrari Testarossa?
When you look at all these TV shows, you notice that all the protagonists, all the heroes have an impressive car by their side. Obviously, I could not let my zombie just walking around, or moon-walking, which he actually does, or using a skateboard. No, he needed an adequate vehicle that accompanies him through his adventures, basically the coolest vehicle that Don Johnson was driving in Miami Vice. And a red Ferrari Testarossa is matching this requirement perfectly.
When you first made "Nightcall," did you know it would become such a big hit?
No, of course not. I think no one could have anticipated such an impact. I really wanted to create a ballad, to design a cold, sad theme between the zombie and the woman. She thinks he is dead, and he is out to find her but the nature of things won't let them be together anymore. While touring together, I approached Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo to do a song with me on this theme and he was into the idea. So we had this really powerful motif that we came up with in rather normal times but somehow hit the nerve of the moment.
How did the feature on the soundtrack for Drive come about?
Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn approached me and wanted to use the song for his new movie, which can be seen as a stylistic succession to his amazing Pusher trilogy. The plot of the movie perfectly resonates to the content of the ballad. Being linked so closely to such a great movie from a great director was a beautiful thing that happened to the song.
What was your reaction when you saw the movie for the first time?
I was amazed. Especially the opening section, when he was cruising by himself by night. It reminded me of my previous animated music videos with the zombie driving around. From an animation perspective, scenes like these are always hard to recreate. I always wanted to try out such a scene with real cameras. When I saw the opening scene of Drive it made me realize that this shot is the perfect video for "Nightcall." That's why I decided not to do another, official music video for the song, because this scene with Ryan Gosling is already classic; famous enough. I figured an additional clip could take away the essential energy from this crucial part of the film. I don't even have a problem when people think that the song was made especially for the movie or originates from the film. That's absolutely cool with me. I think it's a perfect marriage.
Photography: Marcus Herring