O — There’s another line of yours, “I hate my last name, I hate everything it represents.” It made me wonder, how’d you come up with the name Kevin Abstract?
KA — So, in middle school I knew this kid named Kevin, I thought he was cool and I really liked his name. Then I asked someone to describe my music and they said “abstract,” so I just pieced the two together. I did it in middle school and it just stuck. I was twelve years old.
O — Tell me about the move out here, you came with a whole crew, right?
KA — Yeah, well the first move was going to Texas. We all used to talk online all the time, when we were in high school and stuff, and we knew we wanted to get to LA, but we’d rather go to Texas first. Everybody lived spread out, from Florida, to Connecticut, to Texas, to overseas.
O — Had you all met, or were these primarily online friendships?
KA — No, none of us had really ever met. We were just talking, every day, in a group chat.
O — Wow, I feel like things like that must happen, but you don’t really hear about it.
KA — It happens, but...yeah I don’t really know if it happens.
O — That’s pretty incredible that you all were able to get together in real life.
KA — Yeah, so we spent a year in Texas, just focusing on our craft, trying to make the best possible work we could make, that we were comfortable with and comfortable with sharing with the world. Eventually we were ready to come here.
O — Tell me a little bit about this place, Brockhampton House, is this HQ for everything? You said you had a studio elsewhere?
KA — I did, I was working at a studio in Pasadena, and in Hollywood, but I mainly do all my music stuff here, visual stuff here. We did the edit for the Empty video here.
O — Can you tell me a little bit about the figures in your crew, and the roles they fill?
KA — Yeah, there’s my creative director Hanock, and we do all of my clothes together, we do all of the video stuff, album cover, everything. It’s all just us two sitting in his room working. Then my producer Romil, he also handles a lot of the Brockhampton stuff in general, other solo artist acts. There’s Joba, our engineer, there’s Albert, our guitarist, and then there’s all the solo artists. Those are all the key components. Also Ashlan, he does any film stuff that you see pop up on social media. There’s no one in the group that doesn’t have a significant role or purpose. Everybody’s focused on something, we trimmed the fat a long time ago. There used to be like thirty of us online, but when we said we were gonna make the move, a lot of people weren’t down. Then in Texas we lost like two people. It was natural.
O — Listening to American Boyfriend I hear a strong ‘90s alternative vibe, and I was a teenager when that music was popular so there’s sort of a nostalgia to it for me, but for you, being younger, was that genre something you had to actively investigate or excavate?
KA — I guess I just thought about some of the first music I was ever exposed to, and how that affected me growing up. Everything in my work is based off of mood, and how something makes me feel, and that’s also how I develop my taste for stuff. So yeah I just thought about the music that I loved the most as a little kid, I wanted to make stuff like the Goo Goo Dolls’ Iris, the way that song makes me feel is how I wanted my entire record to make people feel.
O — So how were you exposed to that sort of music as a kid?
KA — It was just stuff like my sisters listened to. Then growing up you hear it and say “Oh damn, that reminds me of when I first heard it,” that whole nostalgia thing.
O — Yeah, Goo Goo Dolls must still be on the radio I’m sure. So you’ve got sisters, are they all older?
KA — Yeah I’m the youngest, and then I have a brother too. O — Are your parents in your life? How do they feel about what you’re doing and your success? KA — Yeah, I talk to both my mom and dad pretty often. I think they’re pretty happy, I don’t know. I’d say they’re happy, cause this is definitely not what my family wanted me to do, so it’s cool I’m making it work, slowly but surely. O — Any other artists in the family? KA — No, I’m the only artist. When I was fourteen I knew I wasn’t gonna go to college.
O — That early? What was the rationale, how did you know you didn’t want that?
KA — Um, what happened that year... I saw The Social Network, by David Fincher, and I just knew I wanted to do art.