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Kevin Abstract

Live Music Indie Rock

What’s Happening?

Through his tender songs, Kevin Abstract imagines love in all its shifting forms and flavors. As the leader of self-proclaimed boy band BROCKHAMPTON, he offered a vision of young, queer love for a generation of Tumblr-addled teens and twenty-somethings. More than a decade later, the newly solo Kevin navigates the wonder and unease of ends and beginnings with his upcoming rock album Blanket, which asks, “How do you rebuild after you lost everything you had?” For Kevin, the answer lies in friendship. “When you’re a kid, a blanket protects you from all those childhood fears,” he says. “And then as you get older, some of your friends become your blanket. This album really is a love letter to my friends.” 


Blanket’s eponymous lead single signals Kevin’s pivot into brash grunge. He whispers just a few lyrics (“Memory, memory, there’s no yous and no mes”), letting his red-hot yelps over the guitar riff carry the track. While recording the album’s 13 songs—in Spike Jonze’s brother Sam i’s Los Angeles studio and at Rick Rubin’s Malibu studio Shangri-La—Kevin turned to his earliest memories, a time when the future wasn’t real and anything felt possible. “Everything is more magical back then,” he says. “Going to Disney and sleepovers, the imagination, hearing certain songs for the first time—all that stuff just feels epic.” 


The music on Blanket reflects this childlike wonder. Produced by longtime collaborator Romil Hemnani, multi-instrumentalist Jonah Abraham (Playboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red), and rising musicians Pilot and Julian Ali, the album swings between crunchy, chanted rock (“The Greys”) and vast R&B like “Voyager.” “I wanted to make a Sunny Day Real Estate, Nirvana, Modest Mouse type of record,” Kevin says. “But I wanted it to hit like a rap album.” 


The young Kevin Abstract—born Ian Simpson—first encountered these bands as a high schooler in Corpus Christi, TX. Surrounded mostly by rich white kids, he felt alienated, but took to the wave of indie rock in vogue alongside the music of rappers like Kid Cudi and Kanye West. He transformed his melting pot of influences into his first songs, performing at small local underground shows before finding a rabid online audience for his acclaimed 2014 debut MTV1987. His 2016 follow-up, American Boyfriend, is one of the quintessential records about young, queer love seen from the perspective of a Black kid in the South.  


Kevin’s real ascent, however, began with BROCKHAMPTON. Their story is internet music canon at this point: In the early 2010s, he assembled the self-proclaimed boy band from real-life and internet besties who moved in together in South Central in 2016. They dropped three engrossing pop-rap albums and a handful of otherworldly videos in 2017, becoming gods to a sect of rap and indie music fans. Their next couple eras netted them a number one album in 2018 with iridescence, their most abrasive, defiant record—signaling, to some listeners, early tensions within the group—and a Billboard-charting hit in 2020’s more charming “SUGAR.” They toured the world and buddied up with one of their inspirations, Tyler, The Creator. Kevin released a solo project during their nonstop run, 2019’s warm Arizona Baby, which featured “Peach,” his biggest song to date. But as with any boy band, they were just as famous for the longstanding rumors around whether they’d break up.  


As Kevin tells it, they all saw it coming. Once and always BROCKHAMPTON’s ringleader, he had visualized the group of friends evolving into a full-blown media company “on some A24/Paramount operation” who made films, commercials, and merchandise in-house. Not everybody was on board. “I think it’s just hard to navigate those two things at the same time, especially when you wrap in brotherhood and love,” he admits now.  


When the pandemic kicked in, the members grew apart even further, and in 2022, Brockhampton officially announced their end. “I just put in the group chat one day that I wanted our next album to be the last and Coachella to be our last show, and everyone kind of just agreed immediately,” he recalls. “And I think that’s how we knew it’s not even worth fighting for at this point no more.” They dropped their final albums The Family and TM in November 2022.  


After leaving BROCKHAMPTON, Kevin entered a fog of depression, unsure of his path forward. But at a pop-up show in Los Angeles this past September, he felt the grief beginning to lift. “I was like, oh wow, it’s just me. I look to my left and my right. I don’t see Merlyn. I don’t see Joba—I don’t see anyone. It’s just me, and I have to carry it the entire time.”  


Recorded over three months in early 2023, Blanket has the widescreen feel of past BROCKHAMPTON and Kevin Abstract records, but finds Kevin probing life and love with a newfound wonder inspired by childhood. On the minimal cut “Scream,” he asks, “Are we too old to be this young?” The magic and mythmaking of that formative time pulse through the tracklist as he alters his voice constantly; one moment, it’s high-pitched and dainty, in another it’s a near-whisper, in yet another it’s a digitally fried scream. On the contemplative “What Should I Do,” he’s “floating through space,” finding a beacon in a friend.  


The process for this album was highly collaborative, sessions as likely to involve young screenwriters as veteran songwriters. For the first time, it seems like Kevin’s vast ambitious vision is coming to fruition, even if the container for it is no longer a band. “Every day was exciting. Every song was exciting,” Kevin says. “Every song was a new endless possibility. It could turn into a movie or a TV show or a poster or something.” 


Kevin continues: “When I first started writing Blanket, I was saying, ‘I want to write an album about falling in love with your friends at the end of the world,’ in a platonic way. I feel like a lot of queer albums, if they’re talking about some sort of romantic interest, it’s always unrequited love. It’d be amazing if there was this world that exists where you could be in love with someone and not expect anything back from them, other than just knowing that you’re friends forever.” 


Although his sound has evolved considerably, his pursuit of truth through love remains. The BROCKHAMPTON story may have ended, but Kevin Abstract’s has just begun. 

 

 

 

Through his tender songs, Kevin Abstract imagines love in all its shifting forms and flavors. As the leader of self-proclaimed boy band BROCKHAMPTON, he offered a vision of young, queer love for a generation of Tumblr-addled teens and twenty-somethings. More than a decade later, the newly solo Kevin navigates the wonder and unease of ends and beginnings with his upcoming rock album Blanket, which asks, “How do you rebuild after you lost everything you had?” For Kevin, the answer lies in friendship. “When you’re a kid, a blanket protects you from all those childhood fears,” he says. “And then as you get older, some of your friends become your blanket. This album really is a love letter to my friends.” 


Blanket’s eponymous lead single signals Kevin’s pivot into brash grunge. He whispers just a few lyrics (“Memory, memory, there’s no yous and no mes”), letting his red-hot yelps over the guitar riff carry the track. While recording the album’s 13 songs—in Spike Jonze’s brother Sam i’s Los Angeles studio and at Rick Rubin’s Malibu studio Shangri-La—Kevin turned to his earliest memories, a time when the future wasn’t real and anything felt possible. “Everything is more magical back then,” he says. “Going to Disney and sleepovers, the imagination, hearing certain songs for the first time—all that stuff just feels epic.” 


The music on Blanket reflects this childlike wonder. Produced by longtime collaborator Romil Hemnani, multi-instrumentalist Jonah Abraham (Playboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red), and rising musicians Pilot and Julian Ali, the album swings between crunchy, chanted rock (“The Greys”) and vast R&B like “Voyager.” “I wanted to make a Sunny Day Real Estate, Nirvana, Modest Mouse type of record,” Kevin says. “But I wanted it to hit like a rap album.” 


The young Kevin Abstract—born Ian Simpson—first encountered these bands as a high schooler in Corpus Christi, TX. Surrounded mostly by rich white kids, he felt alienated, but took to the wave of indie rock in vogue alongside the music of rappers like Kid Cudi and Kanye West. He transformed his melting pot of influences into his first songs, performing at small local underground shows before finding a rabid online audience for his acclaimed 2014 debut MTV1987. His 2016 follow-up, American Boyfriend, is one of the quintessential records about young, queer love seen from the perspective of a Black kid in the South.  


Kevin’s real ascent, however, began with BROCKHAMPTON. Their story is internet music canon at this point: In the early 2010s, he assembled the self-proclaimed boy band from real-life and internet besties who moved in together in South Central in 2016. They dropped three engrossing pop-rap albums and a handful of otherworldly videos in 2017, becoming gods to a sect of rap and indie music fans. Their next couple eras netted them a number one album in 2018 with iridescence, their most abrasive, defiant record—signaling, to some listeners, early tensions within the group—and a Billboard-charting hit in 2020’s more charming “SUGAR.” They toured the world and buddied up with one of their inspirations, Tyler, The Creator. Kevin released a solo project during their nonstop run, 2019’s warm Arizona Baby, which featured “Peach,” his biggest song to date. But as with any boy band, they were just as famous for the longstanding rumors around whether they’d break up.  


As Kevin tells it, they all saw it coming. Once and always BROCKHAMPTON’s ringleader, he had visualized the group of friends evolving into a full-blown media company “on some A24/Paramount operation” who made films, commercials, and merchandise in-house. Not everybody was on board. “I think it’s just hard to navigate those two things at the same time, especially when you wrap in brotherhood and love,” he admits now.  


When the pandemic kicked in, the members grew apart even further, and in 2022, Brockhampton officially announced their end. “I just put in the group chat one day that I wanted our next album to be the last and Coachella to be our last show, and everyone kind of just agreed immediately,” he recalls. “And I think that’s how we knew it’s not even worth fighting for at this point no more.” They dropped their final albums The Family and TM in November 2022.  


After leaving BROCKHAMPTON, Kevin entered a fog of depression, unsure of his path forward. But at a pop-up show in Los Angeles this past September, he felt the grief beginning to lift. “I was like, oh wow, it’s just me. I look to my left and my right. I don’t see Merlyn. I don’t see Joba—I don’t see anyone. It’s just me, and I have to carry it the entire time.”  


Recorded over three months in early 2023, Blanket has the widescreen feel of past BROCKHAMPTON and Kevin Abstract records, but finds Kevin probing life and love with a newfound wonder inspired by childhood. On the minimal cut “Scream,” he asks, “Are we too old to be this young?” The magic and mythmaking of that formative time pulse through the tracklist as he alters his voice constantly; one moment, it’s high-pitched and dainty, in another it’s a near-whisper, in yet another it’s a digitally fried scream. On the contemplative “What Should I Do,” he’s “floating through space,” finding a beacon in a friend.  


The process for this album was highly collaborative, sessions as likely to involve young screenwriters as veteran songwriters. For the first time, it seems like Kevin’s vast ambitious vision is coming to fruition, even if the container for it is no longer a band. “Every day was exciting. Every song was exciting,” Kevin says. “Every song was a new endless possibility. It could turn into a movie or a TV show or a poster or something.” 


Kevin continues: “When I first started writing Blanket, I was saying, ‘I want to write an album about falling in love with your friends at the end of the world,’ in a platonic way. I feel like a lot of queer albums, if they’re talking about some sort of romantic interest, it’s always unrequited love. It’d be amazing if there was this world that exists where you could be in love with someone and not expect anything back from them, other than just knowing that you’re friends forever.” 


Although his sound has evolved considerably, his pursuit of truth through love remains. The BROCKHAMPTON story may have ended, but Kevin Abstract’s has just begun. 

 

 

 

When & Where
Dec 19, 2023, 8:00pm to 11:59pm Timezone: PST
$20.00


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