Interview: Kirin J Callinan on ‘Embracism’, being a star & that wardrobe

January 31st 2014


Before Kirin J Callinan dropped his solo debut album ‘Embracism’, had Australia seen and felt a more physical artist?

(The only person before that would obviously be Olivia Newton-John, when she released that song that we all know way too well…)

Songs about primal urges adapted to the modern life, passion and love, confidence and awkwardness, Victoria M and B Springsteen; Embracism is an album about humanity and its beautiful, awkward, imperfect and fascinating sides.

When you’re dealing with subjects this significant, it’s important not to get too serious. As such, I invited Kirin to sit down with me for an interview as serious as it is informative.


Dan: Alright Kirin, I always open an interview with something hard hitting. So first off, I need to ask the question everyone is dying to know: What does the J stand for?

Kirin: Johnny, John, Jonathan. Take your pick. It’s passed down from my grandfather Johnny, who named my father John, who then named my sister Jin. I only got it as my middle name, but I figure I’m still going to pass it on to my kids eventually.


Damn, I was hoping it would be something awesome like Jay or Jinkies. Well, now that that mystery is solved… Your album Embracism has made it into a lot of people’s top albums of 2013 lists. What would be your pick for album of the year?

I got a real kick out of Kanye’s Yeezus record, that was really rad from start to finish. Alex Cameron’s Jump The Shark was great as well, I love the stuff that man produces. Also Shaking The Habitual by The Knife… Actually, to be honest, I don’t listen to much music. Sometimes your own music is so engulfing. The peace and quiet is great.


And yet what you do listen to sounds pretty awesome. You possess a very unique style, especially in your on stage clothing. Two questions on that: What do you have to say for people who are seeking a style of their own? And how do you find such amazing outfits?

Good question. Well firstly, people should be themselves – I mean that’s the obvious answer, but people often don’t do it. You can’t take yourself too seriously. If you’re a goofball, be a goofball; if you know your strengths then go for it. Personally, I like to be expressive, getting dressed in the morning is a good way to do that. But if you’re ever wondering what people will think of you then you’re already doing it wrong. Be intuitive, don’t think about things too much. Be comfortable and be yourself.

As for my wardrobe, I rarely buy clothes and yet I’m always finding new stuff in there. I’m not too sure where they come from, but I figure I’m better off not asking questions.



Good advice. And a great mystery to solve. As well as launching your album, you’ve also had quite a big year, you’ve played a smattering of festivals and have also been nominated for an FBi SMAC AwardWhat have been some of the most memorable moments?

The record was received really well, but the big thing for me was for the record to come out and for people to give a shit overseas. Other things I’ve been involved in have been very provincial, you know, they’re successful in NSW and Australia but they don’t go anywhere else. But now I’m going to New Zealand and Japan and the US, and Europe. It didn’t set the world on fire but it’s been a big achievement, and I’ve been really proud of that.


Do you have any big plans for this year or are you just going to sit back and bask in all of your accomplishment?

Hell no, man. I’d like to put out an EP this year, that would be nice. I want to make another record, but I want to do something a little less serious and a bit more laid back and fun and I think an EP would fit that nicely. I’ve never done any remixes, it’s an exciting prospect, so if anyone wants to do a remix with me, let me know!

I’m also still touring with Embracism, from next week I’ll be going full blast with it. First at the Laneway Festival, which will be exciting; then New Zealand, and then I’m off to the States and the UK. I’m really look forward to that because I’ve only played three solo shows in London, so I’m excited to get a few more under my belt. Half way into the year I reckon I’d like to get into the new record. Hopefully I can have it finished by the end of the year, but I’ll definitely be into it by the halfway mark of 2014.


Dan: It’s sounding like it’s going to be a big year! Okay, and one last question: What did you want to be when you were six?

Kirin: I wanted to be a rock star. Failing that, it was something more modest – like playing cricket for Australia. Or football for Australia, any code, it didn’t matter. Be a movie star, or, you know, some kind of star.


Kirin J Callinan will be touring as part of the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, as well as performing with Savages sideshow:

WHAT :: FBi Presents: Savages + Kirin J Callinan
WHERE :: The Metro Theatre
WHEN :: Wednesday 5th February
HOW MUCH :: $55 + BF from Ticketek



For your chance to win a double pass, email with Savages in the subject heading. Must include FBi supporter number and contact details. Not an FBi supporter? Wishing you were? Join the family here!




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