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Interview with Kody Nielson

Sam Smith

It has been a very busy few years for Kody Nielson. The former lead singer of famed New Zealand indie band the Mint Chicks has somehow had time to release music under his own name, his electronic project Silicon, while also record and tour with brother Ruban’s band Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Added to that, Nielson also plays drums for his partner Bic Runga. Now, to top it all off, Nielson is bringing one of his much-love past projects back in the form of Opossom, eight years since he last played live under that name.

Opossom and Bic Runga’s project King Sweeties will play in October as part of Elemental Auckland, COVID19 levels permitting. Radio 13's Sam Smith caught up with Nielson to talk Opossom, balancing all his projects, and whether he considers himself an elder statesman in New Zealand music.

Hey, Kody, how has your year been in these quite unusual times?

Yeah, it has been pretty hectic. It could be worse, I guess. It has been quite strange, though.

You must be looking forward to playing some live music again. What prompted you to bring back Opossom?

Yeah, for sure, if that actually happens…Elemental Nights made the offer, and we thought about it and was then like yeah, let’s do it. It wasn’t anything in particular aside from being a suggestion and we were available.

Did you have any plans to bring Opossom back?

I mean we did have plans to bring it back but I kind of wanted to bring it back with some new music. But we haven’t finished anything new or anything like that, but we have been working on some stuff but it’s just not finished.

Are you going to release any new music as Opossom eventually?

Yeah, hopefully, we would like to, but it has just been up in the air. But the reason we stopped playing was basically because we got too busy with other projects and stuff like that.

Yeah, because you have had a very busy few years, how have you managed to balance all these projects?

It just happens, one thing at a time really. I just focus on whatever is happening next. But over the last few years, I have been pretty busy helping Ruban really. In terms of writing and recording we would do writing trips and things like that, he would come over here to New Zealand, and then, mostly touring really.

You have played the festivals and bigger gigs with UMO the last few years, are you looking forward to playing a more intimate type of gig at Elemental?

Yeah, I like all types of gigs, whether it is a festival or even the smaller shows. Like when we had our Auckland Town Hall show, we did an after-show gig at Whammy Bar which was cool and quite intimate. We have done a few little shows like that while on tour.

King Sweeties is also going to be performing and I guess this is their first proper show?

Yeah, this is their first official gig so that should be cool. I have never seen them play live. I think they have done one private function but this is their first-ever public gig.

The last album you put out was your solo album are you looking to pursue that further?

Maybe. It just depends on how I am feeling I think and what’s happening at the time. That kind of music [synth-baroque] I had just been making it so I decided to release it like that. I haven’t been working on any new Birthday Suite stuff; I have been mainly just trying to finish up the new Silicon album.

Oh really?

Yeah, it has just been mastered now, and I have just got that back.

So will we be seeing that in the next year or so?

Yeah. I am just slowly planning that at the moment. But the album’s done and it’s called Transport.

("Burning Sugar" from Silicon 2015)

You have been around now nearly twenty years in the New Zealand music scene. Do you consider yourself a bit of an older statesman these days?

Yeah, I suppose in some ways. Like when it comes to helping younger artists and stuff like that, I try to help wherever I can really. It is mainly in mixing or production, but I think it is important that people with any experience kind of try to at least share it so that the younger generation doesn’t get stung or trapped in bad record deals or anything like that.

You probably get asked this question all the time but given you are bringing Opossom back, would you ever consider bringing back the Mint Chicks?

I am always open to bringing the Mint Chicks back and doing a show or whatever. It depends I guess on what it is for and it obviously depends on the other guys and what their plans are. I don’t think anyone is against it or anything.


Opossom & King Sweeties – Tuesday October 20 at Hopetoun Alpha for Elemental Nights - Book Here.

Written By: Sam Smith When he is not writing for Radio 13 Sam works in media and journalism at 95bFM radio and the University of Auckland. He also has is own personal music blog Nowhere Bros.