Press play and we are immediately confronted by home video footage of an orangutan in a zoo. Suddenly “Kyoko-Hindu” appears in front of a digitized grid. We are then taken to a different scene, this time a home video of a newborn baby yawning, wrapped in a white towel. The frame quickly changes to the image of the orangutan, back to the baby, and then the words “Red Panda” appear on the screen. Throughout this opening we hear the voices of what sounds like two young women involved in a conversation. We are then transported into a forest where the image of a person wearing a panda mask comes into focus in the distance.
This is a description of the opening for Kyoko-Hindu’s ‘Red Panda’ video. With the name taken from his incomplete noise project ‘Kyoko Hindu on Nosebleed Island’, Kyoko-Hindu is the alter ego for young Cape Town-based artist Stuart Kets.
Sales of the cassette and lo-fi music peaked in the ’80s when the Walkman was introduced, before CDs took over in the ’90s and mp3s outmoded both formats almost obsolete in more recent years. Lo-fi music usually consists of sound recordings that are of lower quality than the usual standard for modern music, often lacking high end definition, showered in disorganised distortions, and subject to random pitch fluctuations and a droning backdrop with a strong DIY culture behind it. But to many, these technically deplorable traits have come to represent a certain type of art, character and appeal. With the recent rebirth of lo-fi cassette culture due to the internet, Kyoko-Hindu draws inspiration from lo-fi music and crafts ambient and moody sounds with a distinct hip-hop structure while sampling parts of old soul records. His melancholic and blissful sound aims to capture memories of places or times that never really existed or have never been experienced, whilst creating a sense of romantic nihilism and nostalgia.
Inspired by documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis and how he manages to produce a puzzling atmosphere in his work while weaving together narratives from archival footage, Stuart’s brother Chris produced the video for ‘Red Panda’. By digitizing and manipulating VHS home videos, Chris created a video which provides insight into how the two brothers grew up, while maintaining a sense of ambiguity and mystery around the character that appears in the forest. Embracing glitch aesthetics for the video connects to a kind of affection for technology of the ’90s. “There was an analogue simplicity that had its charms in its errors, some kind of interesting chaos in its inability to not quite work right,” Stuart explains.
Mentioning that his music comes from “a place of happy, carelessly lazy contentment but with that bit of soft, sinister uneasiness”, the use VHS footage from his childhood and the way is has been chopped and distorted takes on that same sentiment.
Check out the ‘Red Panda’ video below.