KAZU, Blonde Redhead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kazu Makino, has shared a single from her first solo LP Adult Baby, which will be released on her new imprint of the same name later this year and distributed by !K7. “Salty” pulses with intricate textured synth and is layered with dynamic vocal and percussive production, demonstrating and further reinforcing the artist’s status as an iconic innovator of dream and avant-pop. What’s more, the single as well as the video are evidence of KAZU’s gratifying experimentation–by no means straightforward, but both boundary-pushing and pleasurable to experience. “Salty” and all of Adult Baby are teeming with contributions from significant pioneers of the global pop, electronic, rock and indie scenes such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mauro Refosco (Atoms for Peace, Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Byrne) and Ian Chang (Son Lux, Landlady).
KAZU splits her time between New York City and Italy’s Elba Island where the Paride Ambrogi-directed video for “Salty” was filmed. Carefully framed shots display the elysian landscapes of the island as KAZU interacts with the varied topography of the Tuscan shoreline–her residence for the last few months, a location that helped coax Adult Baby into existence by offering respite from New York. More information about the influence Elba Island had on Adult Baby is available here.
Adult Baby, the imprint, is Kazu Makino’s new venture which she will use to share work from both emerging and established like-minded artists who are driven by experimentation and freedom of expression. Distribution will be through !K7.
Kazu’s story begins in Kyoto, Japan, where she was born to a young unwed couple, neither of whom can recall the hospital, date, or any specific circumstances of her birth. As a youngster, Kazu had an acute sense of focus which required monitoring at all times. In one instance, while babysitting her infant cousin, she become so engrossed in a copy of Homer’s Odyssey that she failed to notice the child scald herself with a pot of boiling water. An adult rushed in and shoved Kazu back into coherence, and she was finally aware of the child’s high-pitched shrieks. Desperately searching for an object of her focus, Kazus parents turned her towards musical instruments. Kazu flourished in music. It opened a new mysterious world to her. At her first piano recital, she made a wrong turn in her piece and couldn’t recall the end, but Instead of stopping, she began to repeat the piece over and over again, dozens of times, increasing the tempo as she played. She continued at this shredding speed until her teacher, drenched in nervous sweat, sat next to her and brought the music to its conclusion. Kazu received her first of many standing ovations that evening.
As the years stretched her limbs and her mind, Kazu traded her pastoral childhood for the bustle and electricity of Tokyo. It was there, down a neon lit alley that she serendipitously bumped into a tall, dark and curiously handsome American stranger with a saxophone slung ’round his chest. “Live with me in New York and be my best friend.” She didn’t understand his words, but she understood his eyes, and so she followed him eleven thousand miles. That man was none other than musician, painter and actor John Lurie. Under his wing, Kazu quietly observed the world of fame, money, fashion, art and the underground. Soon, she wouldn’t be so quiet; she learned English and started to make the noises that we’ve come to know her for. Blonde Redhead was the sonic intersection of those pastoral beginnings and the electric chaos of the metropolis.
Decades felt like mere moments and Kazu’s singular obsessiveness slowly turned inwards and away from collaboration, as she began to forge a project that was solely of her own making. Adult Baby is an introspection, an unmonitored and free exploration of uncharted waters, and a massive accomplishment of melodic cacophonous architecture.
On naming the album and imprint, KAZU explains, “The title came to me when an old friend told me about the existence of so-called ‘adult baby club,’ frequented by powerful men who go there to be treated like small children.” She continues, “This discovery struck me, perhaps because I am convinced that in a way, we are all adult babies, that many people feel that way inside and that they identify with this expression. Each in his own way: Adult Baby is a title that can be taken in many ways; some will think it curious, others erotic, others still strange or tender: it all depends on how you see it.”
Photo credit: Eva Michon
Design and typography credit: Gelman