When they first emerged, stiff, dark and synthetic, in early 2008, everything Kidz in Space did was shrouded in mystery. They claimed, semi-convincingly, to be from another planet. Videos featured images of the cosmos unfurling, and they accompanied songs which effortlessly melded the best of chart pop, rock and hip hop in a manner so effortless as to sound somewhat alien. Their television debut saw them in what at first glance looked like spacesuits.
On closer inspection, though, those spacesuits were endearingly home made, the rough edges visible, the hand of fallible humanity all too apparent. So let’s state what sharp-eyed of observers had suspected for years now: Kidz in Space were not, in fact, from space.
They were from central Auckland, consumed an unhealthy number of energy drinks, and had major issues with rodents and a strange relationship with the city of Invercargill – just like you! Which means: THEY WERE A BAND OF THE PEOPLE!
After co-rapper Neesh moved on, he was replaced with a drummer, Ben Barter.
Replacing an infinitely charismatic frontman with a drummer – in a band so perfectly pop as this, remember – might sound strange, until you think about what you might do if your keyboards/samples/microphones outfit might do if they were forced to tour alongside the brooding ‘rock’ monolith that is Kora for months on end.
That was Kidz in Space’s fate for much of 2011 – taking one of the most pure pop sounds on New Zealand radio on the road alongside arguably its most muscular and messianic live act. To say it changed them would be an understatement – one listen to frankly enormous new songs like ‘Best One' shows just how much the big rooms and sound of Kora seeped into their universe.
But equally important were the ‘sonic worlds’ opened up by Ben’s addition. The new songs sounded like galaxies colliding, like suns dying, like the very fabric of the universe being torn asunder, if you’ll forgive the extension of the space-y analogies. Which is to say they sounded rather large.
If you’re wondering where that soulful voice came from, it’s deep in the belly of Ashley Hughes. After a decade taking apart any battle MC who came before him Hughes has turned his mouth to singing, and the results are mesmeric. Rappers-turned-singers are nothing new, but Hughes won’t make you wince. He’s a natural, au naturel. Together with producer and sometime-singer Josh Fountain, they evolved their sound into something different and fresh.
Anyway – the main point to remember is that for a minute, Kidz in Space were one of the best pop bands in the country BY HEAPS! That position has now moved to other bands, but its still cool to go back to the beginning of it all.