18-year-old Oliver Sabin is better know as the Unicorn Kid, an electronic wizard from Scotland who has become known across the globe thanks to massive online exposure and tremendous live shows. He’s already played gigs with the legendary Pet Shop Boys and the chart topping Owl City. Here is a recent interview we conducted with the Unicorn Kid to find out more about his electronic storm of wondrous sound…
Introduce yourself, and tell me how long you’ve been doing the project Unicorn Kid?
I’m a solo electronic musician who goes under the moniker Unicorn Kid. I started the project about three years go, just before I turned 16.
Where are you based out of and what is the overall music scene like there?
I was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. There’s a lot of great music coming out of Scotland; when people think about the ‘Scottish music scene’ they often think of the indie and folk acts that are coming out, but there’s also a lot of great electronic music here. 8-bit musicians such as Sabrepulse and Firebrand Boy have come out of Glasgow as well as forward thinking producers like Rustie and Hudson Mohawke. I guess because of the nature of what I do I haven’t really been able to align myself too closely with other Scottish acts, so I’ve never really considered myself a part of ‘Scotland’s scene’.
What was the name of the very first song you ever wrote and/or remixed and how old were you at the time?
First track I ever wrote was made up from drum loops and melodies from a Casio VL-1 keyboard, interspersed with samples from a UK television soap called Coronation Street, I think I was 13 at the time, the track was terrible. I did my first remix when I was 17 for the Pet Shop Boys.
Which song did you end up remixing by the Pet Shop Boys and how did you wind up meeting them?
I’d been watching the TV and said something about them on Twitter, Peter Robinson who runs a blog called Popjustice saw it and put me in touch with them. It was their single ‘Did You See Me Coming?’ that I remixed.
What was it like touring with the Pet Shop Boys and how did their fans react to your music?
I actually only did the one show with them, at the Glasgow SECC. The crowd was pretty large and reacted well to my set. A crowd of mostly 30/40-somethings isn’t usually the type of audience I play to but it was still pretty rad.
How did you become involved with the remixing on the Gorillaz track Superfast Jellyfish?
My manager just got contacted by their label asking if I’d be interested in remixing the new single. I’ve been into Gorillaz since I was a little kid so I was totally down to do it.
Tell me about what inspired the track Dream Catcher and why you chose to release it for free?
I originally wrote Dream Catcher about 2 years before it’s release under the title ‘Triangle Drop‘. I played it to my label and they liked it so I decided to rewrite it. I usually take inspiration for a track from dreams, images, sounds or ideas in my head. I was bored one day and was just messing around with repetitive patterns, the track just spawned from there.
How did you wind up being signed to the Ministry Of Sound label?
I started getting label attention when one of my tracks ‘Lion Hat‘ got some UK radio play. I was still at high school full time and it kind of snuck up on me. At the end of term I dropped my place at art school and went full time with music. It snowballed from there and I ended up with a few different offers but Ministry felt like the best fit.
What was the experience like supporting Owl City on a US tour and were they any particular cities you found exciting?
The weirdest part was just being 17 and on my own in the states. It’s such a different place from anywhere in Europe – everything is so big there, from the food, to the cars, to the fireworks. I loved the whole thing, the audience was completely different from what I’m used to in the UK. They took a bit of coaxing and encouragement to get moving, but once they did they were wild. It was weird going to different cities/states and having fans of my own there, at the time I didn’t even know I had fans in places like New Jersey and Michigan.
Any chance of other tours here in the States?
I am hoping to come to the states again in 2011, though most likely as a tour support for another artist.
Would you ever want to go out and start a full on band with a vocalist? Have you ever been in a full on band?
I don’t really work well with other people, I love working on my own and don’t think I’d be able to deal with having to work with a bunch of different people’s ideas. I’ve thought about doing another electronic project as a duo with somebody else in the future. I was in a metalcore band with my brother when I was 14, I played bass and didn’t really write any of the music though.
Tell me about the Justin Bieber remix you did and has he heard it?
I was intrigued by the drag/’witch house’ stuff that is coming out from artists like White Ring and Salem, one morning I decided to have a shot at doing something similar. What better to work with than my favourite pop star, Justin Bieber? I did it in about 45 minutes so I wouldn’t take it too seriously. I really doubt he’s heard it – I’d kill to do a track with him though.
Do you have any messages for your fans out here in the States?
See y’all soon!
Wild Life is the latest single from the Unicorn Kid, now available from Ministry Of Sound. A free download of Dreamcatcher is available on the Ministry Of Sound website located here…
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
Unicorn Kid on Myspace