Kirin J Callinan has been writing songs since he was a teenager, but it won't be until July 2 that his years of writing and playing music will culminate into his first solo debut.
Callinan managed to record his first album Embracism in just six months — a process he said was quick, considering how long his songs had brewed while he was supporting musical projects throughout his native Australia. Callinan says this phenomena is something he doesn't quite understand yet. "Playing in other bands, you come together, and it's collaborative," he explains. "Solo has been a mystery for me." Nonetheless, he's making his first trek through the U.S. this summer, stopping in New Orleans Saturday in support of Ariel Pink at Tipitina's.
"Mysterious" isn't a bad word to describe Callinan's debut, and neither is "bizarre" — a word Callinan himself used to explain the development of his album. Embracism has a dark side, as many songs manifest into grinding, mechanical horror soundtracks only to be juxtaposed by Callinan's arrestingly operatic voice. Imagine if David Bowie actually went to space and lost it while he was burnin' up his fuse up there alone. Yet at other times, the album serves up moving, melodic synths and indie rock jams.
Callinan's more harmonious side injects the humanity into his rough sound. Callinan himself can't avoid tossing around the word "industrial" when discussing his sound. That labels implies a certain cold, detached connotation, but even his darkest, minor-chord-obsessed tracks don't feel that way.
Callinan's live show, self-described as "macho" or "ultra-masculine," is to some degree guided by drum machines and samplers, but Callinan says it gives him the chance to improvise and think on his feet. Much of Embracism wears its twisted metal heart on its sleeve, and it's difficult to imagine Callinan's live show being any different. "It's not hard to merge humanity and mechanics," he says. "A lot of it comes through naturally in performance. It's a bit effortless to get myself in there."
Part of what makes Callinan stand out as a fledgling solo artist is the confidence and sincerity he brings to his music. The results may be as bizarre as the journey for Callinan, but he's setting himself apart right away.