Kirin J Callinan is a tad disappointed that I’ve called him at “a fairly unglamorous time”. Unglamorous is something Callinan will never knowingly be.
When last we spoke he was sporting a mustard singlet tucked into black jeans, under a green cord jacket, all of them under a large black coat worn off the shoulder as a cape. Oh yes, and hoop earrings which were set off rather well by a newish cowboy hat he declared had not left his head in weeks.
Such flamboyance can be heard all over his new album Bravado which travels from ‘80s synth pop to dramatic rock, from earnest balladry to arthouse funk. Oh yes, and electro dicso, with nary a glance at consistency or safety.
“I’m impatient, that’s why I needed to make five albums in the one,” the 30-year-old says of Bravado. “There were no stylistic rules and we took left turns constantly because it felt right, or because it excited us.”
It’s a wildly divergent, often wildly exciting album. And weird. But why not? As Callinan says: “look at pop stars in history: Michael Jackson, Prince, or David Bowie or Beyoncé – they’re weird. They’re really strange.”
Today is ostensibly less weird with Callinan in an optometrists’ room in Los Angeles’ Koreatown district, conducting style and technical conversations with the optometrist (“does it look good? Oh, he’s marking things with a large texta”) while fielding my questions.
Callinan is in the city of angels working on one of his many side projects, playing in an ‘80s influenced pop rock group called Night Game started by writer/producer Martin Johnson of Boys Like Girls.
Some of his other projects have included playing guitar on both the Avalanches and Mark Ronson’s most recent albums, backing fellow northern beaches boy Jack Ladder and joining TV On The Radio on stage.
There’s also an upcoming appearance in the second season of Jane Campion’s moody TV series, Top Of The Lake, playing the brother of American star Elizabeth Moss in the show screening on Foxtel’s BBC First.
“[Kirin] had done some bizarre fun turns in various short films mostly in underpants and I wondered if he would be able to find the reality of a character,” says Campion. “Kirin however did a touching very direct audition and I was really excited by the surprising tone and his personal qualities he brought to the material.”