After releasing one of the most psychedelic electronic LPs of 2015 with the self-titled Palmbomen II, Dutch producer Kai Hugo follows it with Memories Of Cindy, out today on Beats In Space. FACT’s Miles Bowe talks to the LA-based artist about his 90-minute opus and the accompanying talk show he made that’s somewhere between Adult Swim and David Lynch.
Kai Hugo, the psychedelic techno mastermind behind Palmbomen II, has always made videos essential to his music. For the new album, Memories Of Cindy, he’s made most ambitious pairing yet: an imaginary public access channel called Carmel Vista Network which is as surreal as it is funny.
Instead of typical music videos, Hugo thought up the CVN as an imaginary channel inspired by his love of public access television. Each video is filled with fake local commericals and a talk show that falls somewhere between Eric Andre’s Adult Swim antics and the Red Room from Twin Peaks.
“I really love public access commercials that are made fast with small budgets. You don’t plan much, you just do something,” he says. “I work in the same way when I work on a song.”
Though Cindy officially comes out today, Palmbomen II has been gradually unveiling it since last summer. Split into four EPs, each installment combines to form Hugo’s 90-minute LSD-soaked masterpiece of foggy, hypnagogic club music.
“I was playing with this idea of making different worlds that would combine to one bigger world,” he says. The idea started on Hugo’s last album, Palmbomen II, where he named each track after a minor X-Files characters. After reimagining these characters musically (including the titular ‘Cindy Savalas’), he’s now fleshing out the world he built for them.
“I wanted to make some videos for this release … and explore this world I created for the first album with different characters,” he says. “I wanted to make a town where they all lived and dig deeper into that town, see what kind of companies are there.”
Memories Of Cindy’s track titles inspire the bizarre local businesses of Carmel Vista and its music makes for mesmerizing jingles. One uses the song ‘Wilco’s Funeral’ to envision a funeral home offering free cake and the slogan “There is no escape.” Many, like the hypnotic highlight ‘Dancing & Crying’, were just phrases Hugo liked before thinking about how to add them to his world.
“When making the commercials I thought that would be a perfect name for a discotheque that’s open 24-hours and plays this beautiful music where you can dance and cry at the same time,” he says. In between the ads, an ever-aloof Hugo gets interviewed by a stiff, robotic host and performs as the show’s musical guest. These performances become the perfect way to show off Palmbomen II’s live, no-overdubs recording style.
“It’s really spontaneous and works when playing shows, so it’s the same idea in my studio. It gives me the same feeling when I play live.” he says. It’s a process perfected on the album (which he wrote and recorded in about two weeks) and one Hugo compares to the DIY spirit of public access, where money, time and professional actors are always all in low supply.
“I think unintentionally you can make some great things if you let yourself go,” he says. “The spontaneously funny or creepy things you get from just combining elements, where just a small thing might be off.”
Palmbomen II’s Memories Of Cindy is out today via Beats In Space. The first three episodes of Carmel Vista Network are avilable on YouTube with the final installment coming soon.
Miles Bowe is on Twitter.