Music Spotlight: John Carroll Kirby
Keyboardist + composer John Carroll Kirby released his first solo record (after working with artists like Solange, Blood Orange and Connan Mockasin) through his own label Outside Inside. Kirby's Travel LP + accompanying visual album is filled with his original compositions inspired by world travel. We caught up with Kirby on the project.
Asymmetric Magazine: We're so stoked about your visual album Travel! Can you tell us a bit about the LP?
John Carroll Kirby: Thank You! The LP was written primarily in a small town (population of 500) called Rio Hondo San Antonio in Belize. I stayed in a hut down there with an expat named Rod. Rod created one of the first "Hobbit Houses" and was very into sustainable living. Wifi was practically non existent in the town, so I was forced to dig deep into my imagination to write the record!
AM: We love how the tracks are named after cities and landscapes. Are they inspired by your personal travels to these places?
JCK: Many songs are inspired by my personal travels, and some are places I traveled to in my head. Imagination is always the theme. Even if it's somewhere I've been before, I tried to take an imaginative perspective on the experience. When visiting Lamanai, I tried to imagine the civilization that lived there before. When I visited Shanghai, I tried to imagine snow falling on the city–I'm trying to make a snow globe that plays "Shanghai" for merchandise!
AM: How does Travel compare to your other work?
JCK: Travel is my most personal and concise work to date.
AM: What was your process for creating the videos for the LP?
JCK: The videos were inspired by favorite video Souvenir de Chine by Jean Michel Jarre. In that video, he portrays the people of China as compassionate, light-hearted and sensitive during a time when people in the west were meant to feel the opposite way. I tried to apply some of that playful curiosity when compiling my videos.
AM: Are the videos all compiled of footage from your travels?
JCK: All the videos are actually compiled from scouring the Internet, but that's a journey of its own!
AM: Aside from world travel, what themes do you typically pursue through your music?
JCK: I like to explore imagination, sensuality, spirituality, and the humor that runs throughout.
AM: What's your biggest inspiration?
JCK: Hermeto Pascoal's Musica da Lagoa, @boonk.ig, Dries Van Noten, Twinkie Clark, Anderson "The Spider" Silva, Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam.
AM: What other musicians are currently inspiring you?
JCK: Loren Kramar, Molly Lewis, SK Kakraba, Solange, Mac Demarco.
AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
JCK: LA is my home and where I'm at my best! It's great to be around so many great musicians! LA is the mecca of reckless self expression and spiritual inquiry. It's so fun!
AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self/music?
JCK: If the mind is clear, the food is good and the clothes fit right, I'm good anywhere!
AM: What's one piece of advice that you live by?
JCK: My guru Sri Dharma Mittra likes to say: 'Without determination, there is no progress!'. Simple but true as hell.
AM: What can we expect to hear from you next?
JCK: I have a few records in the works! One is a bit more Balearic, and the other might sound something like Cal Tjader's Amazonas meets Uakti/Philip Glass' Aguas de Amazonia.