Nathan Cooper, A.K.A. Kid Kasio is arguably the finest creator of 80s Pop music around today. Everyone one from the SynthWave scene, to the leftovers of the mid-2000’s ElectroPop boom, to today’s Pop-R&B artists are laying claim to the sounds of the greatest decade, but not one of them (even the devoted SynthWave scene) is actually making music that sounds genuinely like it came out in the 80s. But Kid Kasio is.
Emerging from the ruins of (almost massive) Indie-ElectroPop outfit The Modern (nee Matineé Club), Kid Kasio honed his skills on the singles leading up to is début album, Kasiotone. Referencing everything from the SynthPop of The Human League and mid-80s Depeche Mode to the slick Pop of Duran Duran and Nik Kershaw, Kid Kasio’s songs sound like you’ve just changed channels in 1984 and Top Of The Pops is on.
Kid Kasio has been quiet for a while, holed up in the studio, but now he’s back with a new song, and new video. Nathan’s videos are almost as good as his songs themselves, each one painstakingly crafted by Nathan himself (his family has a film making history; his brother being Howard Stark, sorry, Dominic Cooper) and each one looking as authentically retro as his music sounds.
His new one is titled The Kodo Song, it’s actually three years old and a collaboration with his long term writing partner Benjamin Todd, with whom co wrote the music for Sony pictures’ Tamara Drewe and more recently Miss You Already starring Toni Colette and Drew Barrymore.
Nathan tells the story: “The song tells the story of 2 friends called up to fight in the Anglo – Zulu war. The nonsensical chorus is the mantra the pair would chant on the battlefield. One of the friends dies in battle and his companion is left with the song as a reminder of their friendship, long after his death. I guess it’s all about the intensity of friendship and the power of music and its longevity.
The video is entirely Rotoscoped, inspired by A-Ha’s video for Take On Me, a process which Kasio begun himself without really considering how much work would be involved (hence the three year delay). Nathan continues: “Unfortunately I had little understanding of how time consuming the process would be. I began animating in October 2013. At one point I was getting up at 6am and drawing continuously until 2am in the morning. I’d get to the end of a day like that and watch back what I’d done, and there would be only 2 seconds of animation to show for it, it was utterly soul destroying, doing this day after day, month after month.
I felt like it was going nowhere, I hadn’t realised the people making this kind of animation were normally working in teams. It wasn’t just Morten Harket sitting in his room, tracing 3000 frames himself! I’d basically bitten off more than I could chew!”
Bizarrely Drew Barrymore, who Nathan met on the set of Miss You Already sparked a resurgence of Kasio’s interest in the song: “I gave the 2nd album to her on the set, expecting to never hear anything back and I got this gushing text from her the next day saying how both her and Toni Colette had loved the album and especially that song, and how I absolutely had to release this! It was the impetus I needed to get it finished I suppose”.
And here it is! 3,372 drawings later. The Kodo Song is classic 80s Pop, in the vein of The Riddle with a chorus that makes less sense as it is really catchy. Playing on that particularly 80s strain on pseudo-exotic synth instrumentation and an infectious digital bassline, The Kodo Song leverages it’s solemn subject matter with insightful choruses that make the chant-a-long refrain of the chorus feel like a break in the tension. Militaristic drums underpinning the tracks give way to compelling beats before asserting them selves again as an example of the song as a whole, slipping from stern seriousness to euphoric Pop brilliance.
The video could not be more fitting. Playing with effects that would have been cutting edge in the 80s, Zulu is rotoscoped to perfection with Nathan’s performance highlighted but unobtrusive. With knowledge of the amount of work that went into the clips creation, watching can be exhausting, but massively worthwhile.
We eagerly await Kid Kasio’s sophomore album, due for release in the coming months.
Kid Kasio’s The Kodo Song is out now.
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