Multi-talented musician Kody Nielson has followed multiple paths throughout his career, from confrontational art-punk to neo-psychedelia to electronic pop.
The New Zealand native first gained attention as a member of the noisy garage punk band the Mint Chicks, which he co-founded with his brother Ruban in 2001. After releasing several acclaimed albums, the group broke up in 2010, and Nielson formed the more pop-oriented Opossom, whose debut Electric Hawaii appeared in 2012. In addition to playing in his brother's band, the acclaimed Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Nielson began a downtempo electronic project called Silicon, releasing Personal Computer in 2015. His first solo album under his own name, 2018's Birthday Suite, was a celebratory instrumental album inspired by vintage Moog pop records from the '60s, and dedicated to his family members.
Kody Nielson co-founded the arty, angular punk band the Mint Chicks in 2001, while still a teenager. As the group's frontman, he became known for his wild, uninhibited stage behavior, often climbing atop speakers, hanging from lighting rigs, and inflicting harm upon himself. The group signed to legendary New Zealand indie label Flying Nun and made their debut with 2003's Octagon, Octagon, Octagon. The band refined their approach with their subsequent releases, including 2005's F**k the Golden Youth and 2006's Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!, and played gigs opening for Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the White Stripes, TV on the Radio, and others. After relocating to Portland, Oregon in 2007, the Mint Chicks released their final album, Screens, in 2009, and played their destructive final gig in March of 2010.
Settled back in New Zealand, Nielson remained busy, working on his own material as well as collaborating with his partner, pop superstar Bic Runga, and drumming with his brother as part of the neo-psychedelic indie rock group Unknown Mortal Orchestra. In 2012, Nielson debuted his psych-pop project Opossom with the full-length Electric Hawaii, released by Fire Records. While the album was recorded by Nielson solo, the performing lineup of Opossom was rounded out by Runga and former Mint Chicks bassist Michael Logie. The following year, Nielson released Devils, a solo EP credited to his own name. Featuring his father, Chris Nielson, on saxophone and trumpet, the release was an intriguing set of instrumentals which fused elements of jazz, Afrobeat, and deep funk.
Nielson split time between UMO, family life, and mixing records by New Zealand bands including Sherpa and Clap Clap Riot. Much more reclusive than he was during his Mint Chicks days, he started writing smooth, shiny synth-funk songs reflecting his loneliness and disconnection. Personal Computer, Nielson's debut album under the moniker Silicon, was released by Domino sublabel Weird World in 2015.
Silicon was well-received, but instead of sticking with the project, Nielson revisited the direction he had touched upon with his 2013 solo EP, Devils. Constructing a sort of Baroque instrumental pop inspired by early electronic composers like Wendy Carlos and Tomita, he recorded Birthday Suite, an album containing a dozen songs named for members of his family. Flying Nun released the album in 2018. ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi