Even though he’s exhausted, having come straight from a three-day dance festival, Adam Bainbridge is good company. He’s a droll storyteller, elucidating his experiences flitting around Europe and America. Born 29 years ago in Peterborough, UK, which Bainbridge describes as “beige, culturally barren, oppressively white and very conservative,” the half-Indian, half-English kid with dark hair and pale eyes couldn’t wait to escape to London and beyond. He absconded to Paris to study photography before dropping out and spending two years in Berlin, returning to London and eventually heading to Philadelphia for an arts residency. “There was this really liberating sense of not caring about how other people perceive you and a complete openness to work together, a real generosity,” Bainbridge says of his brief time in the city, which effectively snapped him out of a “creative rut.” On his return to London, Bainbridge sunk his savings into recording with mostly disappointing results, but his initial single was a titillating taste of his capabilities and enough to secure a record deal.
Convinced that in-demand French producer Philippe Zdar (one half of electro-house duo Cassius) was the ideal collaborator for Kindness’ debut album, World, You Need a Change of Mind, Bainbridge spent the best part of a year trying to pin him down. “I’m not easily spurned,” says Bainbridge. “Once I have my sights set on a man I get him.” Zdar loved Bainbridge’s demos, but even after he moved his life to Paris and into Zdar’s tricked out Motorbass Studio, the producer tried to back out. A year of working non-stop including back-to-back sessions with The Rapture and the Beastie Boys had left him burnt out. In a pitch-perfect French accent, Bainbridge recounts Zdar’s eventual stipulations: “If we work four days a week, we don’t work weekends, I have dinner with my family every night, I DJ every Friday and Saturday, I have one month’s holiday in the middle, I have a couple of long weekends and we only start work at one o’clock every day…it might be possible.” Despite the quality-of-life schedule, Bainbridge remained convinced Zdar was his man. But after slogging away for five months, when the producer hotfooted it to a tropical island, Bainbridge lost his shit. “He told me not to be a dick because he’d made it quite clear from day one, and had he lied?” says Bainbridge. “In retrospect he hadn’t—he was totally honest.” It all worked out of course. Zdar returned from the Bahamas brimming with ideas and they wrapped 10 songs of louche, sonic hypnosis, the vocals as smooth and soft as high-quality leather.
Bainbridge is clearly confident and meticulous—right down to the black and white self-portraits shot on a vintage Hasselblad camera for the cover of each Kindness release. Over the course of an hour and a half and a bottomless cup of tea, the only time he hesitates is when questioned about his lyrics. “Someone said it sounds like a funky break-up record, and knowing where I was at that point in my life, that makes sense,” he says at a push. “I was trying to be funky and yet I was very sad about what had just happened. Funky melancholia.” He laughs at the idea that this tag might stick. In truth Bainbridge’s music hangs like a slow-spinning disco ball refracting pieces of himself, all the more seductive because the complete picture is never fully revealed. It seems heartbreak, hard-headed pursuit and near failure have served Kindness well.
Stream: Kindness’ World, You Need a Change of Mind LP