If you think your work ethic is good, try this for size: Kennedy Cult record each of their EPs in 48 hours (and then giving them away fro free, free-p’s if you will). Since February 2013 Ryan Kennedy, aka Kennedy Cult, has been writing and releasing an EP a month, complete with accompanying videos and artwork and putting it online for you, for free. That kind of work ethic makes us feel, well, lazy. He makes pulsing, 80s tinged electronica that could be the soundtrack to driving in the dead of night on a highway or maybe the 1983 David Bowie film Hunger..
You used to be called Boys Republic. What prompted the switch to Kennedy Cult?
I had to change the name for legal reasons. Boys Republic is a newly formed K-Pop band from Korea with more fans and money than me. I was gonna lose the name so I thought I’d cut my losses and make the switch. I’ve always been fascinated with the view of the Kennedy’s as America’s royal family. All the drama feels familiar.
What’s it like making a living being a musician in Canada?
I wouldn’t know much about that. I own a vintage clothing shop called Sympathy for the Rebel to pay the bills. I’m doing things a little differently this year and I haven’t played live yet. It’s not from a lack of opportunity but rather an intentional decision to build a catalogue of material before touring rather than just playing the first ten songs I wrote.
You’re currently releasing one EP a month. How are you finding the pace? Do you like the pressure?
I totally realise that giving things more time could result in a better product in some cases but I feel like I’m chasing a specific snap shot of creativity. I find what people come up with in 60 minutes is often more interesting than what they come up with given much more time. My last band released eight songs in three years. That is not a good situation to be in for people like me.
I am such a shitty musician – I can’t read music or programme a drum machine, but I know an idea when I hear it.
Sounds like you’ve turned your output on its head. Why have you been putting restrictions on yourselves in the studio, for example, saying no guitars on a track?
I’m trying to capture what people can do when they are uncomfortable. It’s why I rush things. I am such a shitty musician – I can’t read music or programme a drum machine, but I know an idea when I hear it. I’m always hunting for happy accidents.Thank God I do play with better musicians though. Sax is not a “fuck around” kind of instrument.
So is there an album at the end of the rainbow?
A compilation album of some of the best songs from this year is definitely an option. I’m never going to get excited about doing an album every two years. A full- length album does appeal to me – I’m still romantic over the whole thing. It’s what I grew up on so I won’t abandon it forever.
Who are the best bands in Toronto?
Tough question. I don’t live in Toronto proper so I don’t get out to many shows there. I live in Peterborough. My list would start with my brother Graeme Kennedy. It might be groan-inducing to hear me rate my brother as my favourite local artist but you can’t deny the music. His band Birthday Boys were amazing and now he’s out on his own. Like Nick Cave started fronting Spoon or something like that. He’ll hate me for that description! In terms of someone who is actually from Toronto I’d probably go with Slim Twig.
What do you think your music is the soundtrack to?
I’m the worst at knowing how my music is perceived. I do occasionally watch episodes of Girls with the sound turned off and my own music turned up. Just to see how it fits. I’m really terrible at this so I’ll just go with True Romance. It’s all I ever write about anyway.
On that note, if you were taking us on a date in Toronto where would we go? What would we eat?
I’d drive you 90 minutes out of the city to Peterborough. We would stop and go vintage shopping on the way. We’d both pick out new outfits for the date and then go eat Belgian food at St. Veronas and drink red wine at Le Petit Bar. The next morning I’d drive you back to Toronto and we’d have octopus and beet salad for lunch at Terroni.
Get your paws on free Kennedy Cult EP’s from the website www.kennedycult.com