© Jono White

Years and Years wunderkind Emre Türkmen indulges his 90s impulses

Less than a minute into ‘It’s Cool’ and you are dunked headfirst into a pool of nostalgia. Fuzzy guitars, slacker vocals and pulsing basslines, a concoction so tried and tested (and oft revisited) it is synonymous of the legacy of transatlantic 90s rock. It has been 20 years since the heydays of Blur and Smashing Pumpkins began to wane and eras are prone to reminiscence, but when the result is as tasteful and immersive as the work of Exit Kid, you find you don’t really mind.

And whilst the wriggling electro-pop antics of Years and Years may hog all the limelight, Emre Türkmen is more than deserving of his opportunity to shine (and as you’ll discover, he can definitely sing too!) As a project, Exit Kid channels a creativity quite removed from his day job, Türkmen collaborating with animator Joe Baughman on the truly inspired visuals for ‘It’s Cool’; view the video below and discover what inspired Türkmen’s latest work…

We really got into your debut track ‘It’s Cool’! Can you tell us a little about it?

‘It’s Cool’ is essentially a neurotic love song about throwing the dice one last time. I wrote it as a note-to-self when I started a new relationship. We all struggle to remain in the here and now and it’s really important to focus on the good stuff and not get overwhelmed by the future. Fuck the future.

The video for the track is pretty dark. How did you come up with the concept for it?

The concept is Joe Baughman’s. His brain works in ways you and I cannot fathom. I sent him a few songs, he picked the one he liked,  listened over and over and let his imagination take over. When he sent the treatment to me I didn’t need any more convincing. We’re thinking of doing a horror music video next.

It’s a stop-motion effort and beautifully executed realised; how did you come to work with Joe?

I’ve loved Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ video since I was a child so I knew pretty early on that I wanted to have an animated video. It took roughly two days from finding Joe on YouTube, emailing him, having a concept, to arranging a shoot date. He’s worked with Sufjan Stevens and The Roots  and I just thought his work was full of colour and skill but also quite dark.

Your work as Exit Kid is quite the departure from that of Years and Years! What drew you away from synths to guitar?

I grew up playing acoustic guitar but went electronic a few years ago as I felt uninspired by just six strings. Turns out six strings is more than you’ll ever need. Exit Kid is about volume and heart so it was a no-brainer to turn to the guitar-bass-drums format.

How long has the project been in the works?

It started on tour in the US over a year ago. I decided to fill all the dead-space you get on the road with some sound.

You’ve also just released your self-titled EP – congrats! What was the writing process like for you? Did you encounter any difficulties?

Thanks! It was quite a rush in both senses of the word. I made a conscious decision to be quick and decisive. Things had been building up for a while and I guess it all needed to be let out so, it felt very cathartic. Pretty much every song was written either in a hotel room, the back of the tour bus or sometimes I’d commandeer an empty  room in a faceless arena venue somewhere in America. Write a song, take a snap of each place for posterity and move on. I’ve got a little wooden box at home with polaroids of every place I wrote a song.

Why was it important for you to have your own creative space to experiment as you please?

It’s been important since I was a little kid, so it’s not a new thing. My brain is the kind that does not stop moving (cheers Mum) so I think making music is a way to calm that down. Also, I’m pretty stubborn so freedom and solitude have always  been very necessary for me.

Exit Kid has quite the 90s vibe with its fuzzy guitars and lo-fi vocals. What music do you love most from that era?

There are too many bands to list (Blur, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, RATM, Blind Melon, R.E.M.) but Smashing Pumpkins will always be the one. Siamese Dream is where it’s at; I love Billy Corgan’s voice and the guitars blew my mind when I first heard them (still do). I first listened to ‘Mayonnaise’ on the final day of summer holidays after breaking up with a girl and how can you possibly top that?

What else do you have planned for 2017?

2017 is whizzing by so quickly it’s frightening. I’m currently working on album two with my ‘other’ band. Also trying to find time to play some Exit Kid shows. I just shot another video with Joe Baughman for the song ‘Caesar’ so that should hopefully be out soon. Bizzy!

Exit Kid’s self-titled EP is available now via Kobalt.