In 1984, two major events occurred that shaped Parisian electro producer Vincent Belorgey's life: in America, Miami Vice made its television premiere, and in France, nine-year-old Belorgey (aka Kavinsky) quit taking piano lessons for good. Those two historical incidents intersect in the Frenchman's songs, which sound like a musical neophyte's best stab at remaking Jan Hammer's synthetic score for the fabled Florida-based cop show. All moody atmospheres, fluttering rhythms, and saccharine arpeggios, Kavinsky tracks like "Wayfarer" and "Testarossa Autodrive" soundtrack a stylish drug bust in the mind's eye, vividly evoking an era when stubble and pastels made the man.
Biographical details on Belorgey are sketchy; on Kavinsky, less so. The latter is the stylish, sunglasses-sporting outlaw who graces all of his record covers, and he's dead–killed in a Ferrari crash in 1986. As a fictional back story, the whole rogue-cop-comes-back-to-life-as-a-dance-music-artist is incredibly lame, but according to the producer himself, it's not nearly as boring as his own life story.
"Kavinsky is a character I created because just putting my face on a record sleeve isn't something that suits me," says Belorgey, interviewed in French while on tour in Mexico. "Showing my own face holds absolutely no interest for me. I'd much rather make music and tell a story, because for me music is linked to images. When I'm making music, I have images in my head of films and television shows I liked when I was little. So I created this story that mixes all those memories together."
While he's long-time friends with noted dance producers Quentin Dupieux (aka Mr. Oizo) and Jackson Fourgeaud (of Jackson and his Computer Band), the 32-year-old Belorgey took up music just three years ago, when Dupieux offered him an old Apple computer he no longer needed. Since then, Kavinsky has become one of the hottest artists in the French scene, linking the electroclash era's '80s obsessions with the buzzing sonics and scruffy fashion sense of rock-influenced acts like Justice. Like those Parisian artists, Belorgey seems more interested in having a good time than in being taken seriously, hence the kitschy tunes, farcical back story, and cheesy album covers.
"I think there's already far too many people who take their music too seriously," he contends. "It's not in my nature to be a serious person; I'm not like that in my day-to-day life, so I'd feel bad to present myself to people as a serious artist. It wouldn't be true."
Joker or not, the producer will buckle down next year to record his first full-length album and develop a proper live show. Until then, he'll be on the road DJing, playing the vintage synthesizer songs he wishes he'd made, and living the kind of debauched lifestyle that Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs used to crack down on.
Kavinsky plays Celebrities tonight (October 18).