By Vanessa Tam
VANCOUVER — Imagine knowing, with absolute conviction, exactly what you wanted to do with your life at the age of nine or ten.
“I used to go on this Nickelodeon forum [when I was in Grade 4] and type out lyrics,” Ian Simpson says over the phone in between bites of lunch. “I think that, now that I’m able to reflect and really think about it, that kind of just shows how ambitious I was at a young age. I [remember] exactly what I was listening to [at that time] because I was so in tune with what I wanted to do as an artist.”
Growing up in suburban Texas, Simpson took on the moniker Kevin Abstract when he started making music and releasing it on the Internet because there wasn’t really a local scene that he felt understood what he was trying to do. “That’s why I turned to the Internet and released all of my music there,” he says. “And even though it wouldn’t connect on people for years, I ended up meeting a bunch of people [online] and made a bunch of friends because of it.”
That same group of online friends eventually developed into the creative “All-American Boyband” of artists, designers, singers, producers, and directors known as Brockhampton. Currently based in LA, the whole team moved into one house where they would be free to collaborate on projects at any given time. “[Back in] 2005 I knew I wanted to move to LA because I was watching a lot of MTV and that show Next and Room Raiders and I would just see the palm trees and I would think like man, that looks so cool. I wanna live there,” Simpson recalls. “The older I got, the more that feeling stuck with me. I’m super in tune with my emotions so if I’m stuck to something based off of an emotion, I’ll probably be stuck to that [thought] forever until something like ruins it for me.”
A natural storyteller, Simpson’s last couple albums as Kevin Abstract, MTV1987 and American Boyfriend, handle the universal issues kids deal with growing up in the suburbs including anxiety, love, identity, and drug use. “Just going to the most random places [to hang out] because there was literally nowhere to go in these towns. So you will hang out at the grocery store, you will hang out at the mall, and you will hang out at the high school when no one’s there,” reminisces Simpson. “You kind of just enjoy each other’s company and you both feel like this sort of disconnect [towards other people] and you don’t really know what it is because you’re so young.”
Currently at age 20, Simpson is beginning to find himself leaving his adolescence behind as he transitions into adulthood. “[Getting older] doesn’t bother me though because the older I get and the more I experience, it allows me to have a different perspective when I reflect and think about my time in high school,” he states with absolute confidence. “I’m still super in tuned with like how I felt as a teenager and I’ll probably write albums for adolescent and youth and teenagers probably for the rest of my career as Kevin Abstract. I don’t think there’s a problem with that because John Hughes made films about [high school] for so long so I figured I could do the same thing with music. And if I get tired of it then I’ll just stop and only make movies.”
Kevin Abstract performs at the Biltmore Cabaret February 26th.American Boyfriend, BC, Biltmore Cabaret, British Columbia, Kevin Abstract, MTV1987