TÊTE A TÊTE: ANDREW KUO

Have you heard the new tunes playing at the KENZO stores? A little Animal Collective, a little Beck, a little Vampire Weekend, a little Taken By Trees, to get your feet really moving while you browse. We'd love to go on and on about the whole list, but instead we enlisted someone a little more qualified to talk about it: our friend, the artist formally known as the maker of the playlist himself, Andrew Kuo. And check out Andrew's NYTimes page with his amazing graphs here and his music blog here.

 

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How did you go about picking songs for the Kenzo stores' playlist? Was there a specific mood or style or region you thought was appropriate or necessary?
I have never been more thankful for iTunes as I am when I'm going through songs for a playlist! For the Kenzo mixes, I go through all the songs on my computer as well as some late night MP3 hunting. I look for beat-heavy songs that aren't boring to me. I'm a sucker for a melody.

 

 

Is there some sort of a story arc, or any hidden messages within the playlist?
That's funny, because every song has a different meaning for every person. A lot of the songs in the playlist remind me of great and not-so-great times in my life. Sometimes I worry if I tell someone a secret, that that feeling will go away. I feel the same way about music sometimes—if I play someone a song that has a specific place in my brain, it stops being there. So yes, there are hidden messages everywhere. Whether or not they are interesting messages is another story.


What's your favorite song on the playlist and why?
Of all the songs in the latest playlist, I have to say CEO's "White Magic" is my favorite. It has all the elements of an epic song—a slow build up, strange/catchy melodies and a big finale! CEO is one half of The Tough Alliance, who are also pretty great.

 

What is your most played song on iTunes (and what's the play count)?
It's the Dirty Projector's version of "Rise Above"! I wouldn't have guessed that. 149 plays? It's an amazing song, but maybe I left it on repeat by accident once?


How did you get started making such mind-bogglingly detailed graphs? Were you ever interested in math, or were you just aesethically intrigued by graphs?
Don't let the glasses fool you! I am terrible at math. But I've always been drawn to charts/diagrams and big colors. I started making the charts for my music blog when I got bored of writing. They've changed a lot since then—now I make charts about everything. Most of them are paintings, but I still work a lot online.

 

Do you write down all of the thoughts you document as you have them and then quantify them later, or do you prefer to work from memory? You must either have a really quick hand or a really good memory.
I don't write down as much as I should, but I do have pieces of paper everywhere in my studio so I can write down random thoughts as they come to me. Most of it is nonsense, though. Maintaining a Twitter profile is also a way for me to track my thoughts. I also send a lot of texts to myself. Taking pictures is also a good way to take notes. Technology is awesome!

 

What upcoming concert are you most looking forward to?
Animal Collective in October! I can't wait for James Blake to come back. JJ too. I wonder if Burial will ever play a show?