Kid Froopy uses isolation to his advantage to create his own brand of self-made, unadulterated electronic music.
Tucked away in Middle America, a young and vibrant artist is writing, producing and releasing creatively and effortlessly fresh music from his apartment in Des Moines, Iowa – and people are starting to notice. For an artist who arrived on the scene less than a year ago, Kid Froopy is already making sizable waves with his own work and some of the freshest remixes around. His music includes influences from ’80s and ’90s pop and electronic melded with modern day production and effects. All of this leads his work to a widely ethereal, funky and futuristic sound, arguably making Kid Froopy one of the newest and brightest rising stars in the D.I.Y. electronic music scene.
While many artists may either grow up in a flourishing music scene or move to one as soon as its feasible to do so, Kid Froopy is more or less content in his hometown of Des Moines. In staying, it’s possible his personal style of music has been able to flourish in a way that may have been disrupted by too much outside influence. Perhaps also as a result of living in Des Moines his whole life, he has yet to become one for the spotlight. It’s unclear if he’ll ever lean that direction, seeming to prefer the focus settle on his music and not the artist.
Whatever the case may be, Kid Froopy seems to be bubbling just beneath the surface of widespread recognition, ready to burst through at any moment. After three original track releases in the past year, plus a music video for “Dreams,” Froopy is gaining momentum as one of the most forward-thinking artists to keep your eyes and ears on in the coming year. His latest single, “Drive Slow,” is perhaps his most accessible yet; featuring a grooving guitar loop and his signature chopped and pitched samples. Plus, his vocals are front and center, as always, but at their natural pitch for the first time. Take a listen to “Drive Slow” below and check out Atwood Magazine’s conversation with Kid Froopy on growing up in Iowa, becoming comfortable with his own voice, and more.
MEET KID FROOPY
Atwood Magazine: How did you first get into music and what’s that whole backstory for you?
Kid Froopy: Well, I’m from Des Moines, I still live here. There’s not a lot of music here. It’s a little bit of a musical vacuum and I don’t come from a musical family, so I was kind of left to my own devices in finding stuff. I think a lot of it was like, really generic pop music that I got into from a really early age because I didn’t know anything. That got into my brain really early and studied music in school as well, kind of parallel to that. So yeah I played in a band, I was programming music with just whatever weird programs I had on my parents’ computer and just doing a lot of different stuff. I remember I had an EP on a program that my mom had and it had a weird 8-track recorder, just making weird DIY music when I was a little kid. So yeah I studied music in college and that was kind of a bummer, or I got kind of burnt out on that. I ended up just making music on my computer in my spare time. I’m 27 right now so I’ve been doing it for a while, but in terms of how I got here, I don’t really know, haha.
Yeah, so you got burned out in school studying music, just because you felt it was too by the book or what was it that steered you away from that?
Kid Froopy: I think it was really interesting and I learned a lot, but I realized that all the music I was studying just wasn’t my music. A lot of it was very old and we studied Western classical music – obviously that music is really beautiful and interesting. But yeah, I was just kind of thinking that all the composers I was studying were, of their time, making music that hadn’t been heard before. So I just realized that I kind of wanted to do the same thing, like, figure out what my music is and I’m still working towards that. Because the question is, when you think about, “what is my music?” then you have to ask, like, “who am I?” you know, or “what do I want to say?” I think everybody is trying to figure that out, so. Sorry, I’m totally gonna like ramble!
No, it’s great, those are the best interviews. It means you’re passionate about your music so that’s what we want!
Kid Froopy: Okay, cool, haha.
So you still live in Des Moines, is that where you want to continue to be or what’s your vibe there?
Kid Froopy: I’m here for a number of reasons, but I think I’m the kind of person that’s always lived… I’m very cerebral, like in my own head, so whenever I go somewhere that doesn’t change. Anywhere I go I’ll still be in my head, like, physical geography maybe is a little overrated in like the digital era, or something?
Yeah I mean with how digital music is now, too, you can be anywhere.
Kid Froopy: Yeah, but it’s also like, you’re from where you’re from and you can own that or you can be the person who… I don’t know, that sounds weird, like there’s nothing wrong with moving somewhere, but I think for better or worse that’s where I grew up, that’s where I’m from, and yeah, I just own it and it’s part of my life. I don’t think moving somewhere else… I mean I probably will, but for right now…
You don’t think it’s totally necessary for you and your work.
Kid Froopy: Not totally, no. I think working with other people and other projects and trying to be working on a songwriter on different stuff would probably require me to be somewhere else but if I’m just making my own music, you know, I record everything myself, basically produce everything just on a laptop, so yeah.
So you said there’s not a very big music scene where you are so as you started to get into music, how do you think that impacted the type of music you make now?
Kid Froopy: It was just like an open, choose your own adventure type thing. And I’m the oldest in my family so there wasn’t an influence from anyone really, there’s no real scene in Des Moines so it was literally just like trying to find stuff by whatever chance, and that’s where a lot of generic pop music got in my head early on – by not having anyone to tell me, “oh, you should listen to this or listen to that.” I don’t know, my earliest memories are always like top 40’s pop music, so for better or worse I think going to school to study music was me trying to maybe run away from that a little bit. But pop music definitely got into my brain at a really early age.
Yeah, and I feel like your music is pop-y but it’s new and current and feels very different.
Kid Froopy: I think that might be a function of being here, it also might just be a part of my personality. I’ve always kind of like done my own thing, but yeah, not coming up in a scene where there’s a bunch of DJs and DJ nights at clubs where people are playing a specific style of music… I guess if you came up in that you would sort of like, go into a certain style of music, where in Des Moines, it’s like “do whatever you want.”
So “Drive Slow,” how do you feel about that track? It’s the first one where you haven’t really edited your vocals, right?
Kid Froopy: Yeah, well it’s not pitched up or anything.
Was that for a specific reason or were you just feeling that?
Kid Froopy: It just felt like, for the song, it felt like the right thing. It was also kind of like a new challenge, like everyone’s voice sounds good pitched up – you could be the worst singer but if you pitch it up it sounds really cool, you know? I think that after recording vocals for a while it gave me the confidence to sit with my own voice. ‘Cause when you work on songs you listen back to the same shit like hundreds of times and I think after working, or recording vocals for a while I felt more comfortable with my voice.
Dude, even just transcribing these interviews I’m like “I don’t want to hear my voice.”
Kid Froopy: Yeah, it’s weird! I’ve gotten used to it now, like I know what my voice sounds like, since it’s a little different from when you talk and hear it in your head versus how it sounds to other people.
So, you released a music video for “Dreams.” How did you go about the artistic direction of that and do you plan on doing more videos?
Kid Froopy: I definitely plan on doing more videos. Did one for “Drive Slow” that should drop sometime in the next couple weeks. The “Dreams” video was made by Shinichiro Fujita, his handle is @shinosm on Instagram. I can’t take much credit for it, haha – it started with an animation he made that he later expanded for the song. I thought the visual themes worked well with the lyrics – I loved how that one turned out.
And you’ve released stuff with DeadBeats and Moving Castle - how was that been? I feel like the music scene right now is so open-ended, like you don’t need to sign to a label but can still release stuff with them and it's chill.
Kid Froopy: It’s been really cool working with both Moving Castle and DeadBeats, they’ve been really great. I never assumed or planned on having a label put my music out, but my manager Greg is really the one who loves sending it, letting people know. But like for “bb” for instance, I was planning to just drop it on SoundCloud, like literally just upload it and be done with it. Then Greg was like “no, no, no we can send this to a label or whatever,” and I was like, “oh, okay!” But it’s been really cool – they’re able to push it more than I would. They’ve always been really supportive, for sure.
And so how would you describe your sound?
Kid Froopy: Um, how would I describe it? I feel like with genres, I don’t really even think in those terms, I mean for better or worse that’s not my go-to. I feel like it’s maybe a little bit warm… Maybe a little bit lo-fi, like not super HD electronic music. Hopefully maybe a little bit singer-songwriter, confessional, sort of like honest? I feel like maybe it’s a mix of a lot of older styles of music, musically but with [production] techniques that are a lot more modern, that you see in EDM stuff.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and I think all your stuff from “bb” to “Dreams” and now “Drive Slow,” they all fit into your catalogue but they all have their own thing.
Kid Froopy: Yeah, I’m not a good genre producer – like you know how some people are like “now I’m gonna make a House song,” or Drum & Bass, like I’ve never been able to do that, it’s just not how my brain works. Usually it’s starting with an idea, a lot of times a vocal idea, and then the song kind of comes out of that. So, I know a lot of my output has been kind of all over the place, but hopefully it shares some type of… I don’t want to say “aesthetic,” but a common sound.
I think it definitely translates but they also have their own distinct vibe to them, like I’d listen to them in different scenarios.
Kid Froopy: Okay, cool!
So what's next? Are you gonna keep putting singles out or what do you think?
Kid Froopy: I think at least two more on DeadBeats, I’m writing music right now, but I’m not sure what will happen with that or how it will get on the internet, but yeah two more with DeadBeats. I structured it as an EP, there’s four songs and if you play them in order hopefully it tells a story. But I think we’re going to release it as singles, but at least two more after “Drive Slow!”
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photo © Kid Froopy