Dan Kirkland, aka Kirklandd, is a young hip/hop artist from Australia’s capital city, Canberra. Studying Marketing at the Australian National University, the self-proclaimed poor student “rarely makes it to class”, filling in his time with sessions, monthly trips to Melbourne and making music. Raised his mother’s collection of classic funk/soul artists like Aretha Franklin, the Doobie Brothers and the Bee Gees, it was Lupe Fiasco’s 2006 album Food and Liquor that ignited Kirkland’s passion for writing lyrics. In 2018, however, Kirklandd has added to his passion for songwriting an urge to create visual experiences.
It was a recent trip to India which inspired him to radically rethink his artistic direction. After a brief 14-month hiatus from song-writing, Kirklandd released ‘Impulse’ in February, with a stellar music video released last week to accompany it. Going beyond bars and verses, Kirklandd is now driven to create hip-hop music with a distinct visual aesthetic, exemplified by ‘Impulse’. The one-shot visual thrill took fourteen takes to create, but over a decade of song-writing to come into fruition.
“I didn’t want to rush anything out until I had this full vision realised. When that finally came and people knew there was this kind of big experience to come with the song, it was a much more immersive feel than just releasing a single.”
The music video creates a distinct visual aesthetic, making it more than just a track. With rich blues, purples and reds, colour drives forward Kirklandd’s narrative. The lighting synchronises with the track’s drums, pianos and bongo drums to keep the beat moving, while the colour changes to mimic the emotions of acting on one’s impulses. Kirklandd’s experiences during his 14-month hiatus directly led to this new, visually driven artistic direction.
“I took a few months off and went to India, kind of travelled around, shaved my head and fucked off for a few months. I got a bit of perspective and clarity on where I wanted to go artistically and the creative direction I wanted to take.”
He tells the story of being high with locals at a cremation in Varanasi, India and having a vision that he could only vocalise as “lighting colour”. Listening to the completed version of ‘Impulse’, he found that the music evoked the same visual imagery that he experienced while travelling. With a new artistic drive to create immersive visual experiences through music and a song matching the surreal visions he had in India, Kirklandd set out to create the ambitious visual experience seen in ‘Impulse’. Filmed in a single camera shot, Kirklandd uses a series of choreographed lights and a projector. There were three lights on the back wall, a circle of lights surrounding Kirklandd, one blue light flashing at his face and a 20ft projector aimed at the back wall.
“I walked into the shoot being like ‘Guys this probably won’t work. Let’s give it a go and see how it looks.’ It was just throwing a bunch of darts in the air, but they all stuck. It’s unreal.”
The “Impulse” video is just a taste of the new artistic direction he wants to pursue. Determined to imbue all his music with a distinct visual aesthetic, he is curating and designing a unique, multimedia-driven show. He is set to perform at the ‘Impulse’ Launch Party on March 23 at Mr. Wolf, Canberra. Building on the visual aesthetic of the music video, he has 4K video projectors and some fine art pieces from artists in Canberra to add to the show’s spectacle. He has already teased one piece, which is a series of canvas artworks, created using UV reactive paint that slowly transforms and evolves before the audience’s eyes. Compared to the UV paint in PNAU’s ‘Chameleon’, Kirklandd states that this style is less “UV partyish and subtler and a bit more artistic.” Having toured nationally before, it is the live shows where he has creative control that stand out as his favourite, such as his Faded tour in 2018, which took him the Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory and Melbourne’s Boney. Returning to the stage, Kirklandd can give his audience a unique visual hip-hop experience.
“Mr. Wolf’s a club vibe. I played there before when I opened for Ivan Ooze, but I’ve never played a headline show there yet so I’m really keen to create this immerse feel. I really want to make it big and aesthetic driven, so I think that venue is going to be perfect to execute that.”
Kirklandd will launch ‘Impulse’ at Mr. Wolf in Canberra on March 23. Be sure to check out the vivid music video for a glimpse into this aesthetic driven track.