What is your name and role within the band?
My name is Nikolas Thompson. I write the music and sing, and I play guitar when we have a keyboard player or play keyboards when we have a guitar player.
How did you start?
I started Kite Flying Robot as a one man band, acoustic guitar and drum machine, in 2006 in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve had a variety of friends and amazing musicians help out in Oklahoma USA, as well as Seoul, South Korea, where I lived for four years. It’s a strange history, one that is hard to put in a nutshell when people ask. The only other long-standing member is Tanya Felter, who sings and plays electric violin, who I’ve played with since 2010, besides my few years in Korea.
Where are you based?
Currently we are based in Oklahoma City, USA.
Please give an example of your music writing process?
Often a song will come out of practicing piano and running across happy accidents. Hitting a wrong note can be inspiring. Some weird voicing of a major 7th chord, for example, will spawn the beginnings of a melody. Or sometimes I’ll get some phrase in my head that I like, and I’ll set that to music. Like for “Bad Girl,” I had “You’re such a bad girl, but you’re good to me” stuck in my head for months. And eventually I stumbled upon a bass line that the phrase worked well over for the chorus. Also there are a few songs I have written in dreams, and upon waking up, ran to the guitar or piano to get them down before I forgot.
What are you working on right now?
We just played Norman Music Festival, and we will probably take the summer off to flesh out some new songs in preparation for a new album. Besides that, I’m finishing scoring music for a full-length documentary about South Korea called “Sedae,” and also just started music for a superhero short film by a filmmaker friend.
What is your gear setup?
Several keyboards and MIDI controllers around my laptop, a Fender Strat and amp nearby, and Kate Bush and Prince posters to supervise my writing process.
What do you like to do outside of music and does it affect your music?
A couple odd jobs, watching too much NBA basketball (Thunder up!), and though it’s still related to music, I will be starting a Master’s degree program in music composition and orchestration in the fall.
How would you describe your music genre?
This has always been a head-scratching task, but simply put, let’s say Dark New Wave.
Do you know any music theory?
I stubbornly resisted music theory in my early rock and roll days, but I have been studying and applying music theory pretty hard in recent years.
What are your plans for the future?
Probably more scoring music for video, maybe some side projects, and I’d love to write a musical for theater or film. I’m in my 30s, so touring as a band is getting more difficult to do, but I would love to tour Europe someday, since we have some fans over there.
How did you get into music?
I’ve loved music since I was a kid, but my tastes matured in my teenage years, getting into Radiohead’s OK Computer album was a life-changer, and aggressive power pop bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer got me interested in guitar.
What are you listening to at the moment?
A lot of film and TV scores, like Hans Zimmer and Ramin Djawadi, new releases from my friend’s bands like Party Fears and Casey Chisholm, 80s classics like Phil Collins, Missing Persons, Giorgio Moroder.
Who are your top 5 influences and icons?
Well I can never escape my 90s rock upbringing. The 90s Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead supernerds will hear subtle homages in my music, but clearly I’m an 80s guy, Kate Bush, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Vince Clarke’s 80s stuff, anything early 80s. Also huge orchestrators like Danny Elfman and Howard Shore. Make it big!!!
When are you playing next?
After Norman Music Festival, no shows planned. But hopefully an album release show in the autumn.
Please feel free to include any extra info.
We just released our 7th music video, called “One in a Million”, which I directed and shot in South Korea. It’s on Youtube and Facebook. Music and video provides the perfect marriage of art. I’ll be making this stuff until the day I die.