Love Letter To A Record: Nina Las Vegas On Kelis’s ‘Kaleidoscope’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

Nina Las Vegas – Kelis’s Kaleidoscope

Dear Kaleidoscope,

I have to be upfront and let you know that I didn’t actually buy Kaleidoscope by Kelis.

My Dad did. I don’t even really know why, but I think he knew I liked ‘Caught Out There’ and then ordered it from Don Tuckwell Audio in Wagga Wagga. I think subtle hints is how our home CD collection became so massive. Dad’s shopping, with my sister and I benefiting from his impulse purchases.

A few months after he bought Kaleidoscope I started doing cleaning shifts at Forum 6 Cinemas. It was a brutal shift that started at 6am, which included cleaning bathrooms and popcorn from seats, paid illegally low (seriously, I think there was a union crackdown after I left), somehow disguised as a cool shift because you got to play your own CDs loud in the empty cinemas.

I loved those shifts. And mostly because I stole Dad’s copy of Kaleidoscope and played it over and over again.

Every time I listened to it, it would be like escaping into the futuristic word of Kelis and The Neptunes in my home town of Wagga Wagga.

From the wild Pharrell intro, into the aggressive “I Hate You So Much Right Now” hook, to the sonic soundscapes that songs like ‘Mars’ & ‘Roller Rink’ created, every listen would be a little trip into a bizarre music production world that I would eventually create a living from.

I couldn’t believe how wild Kelis’ voice sounded over the most forwarding-thinking beats. I can’t remember if i was aware of N*E*R*D at that time, but now I know how The Neptunes production was changing my feelings towards music those early cleaning mornings.

Everything beat, noise, sample, chord sounded… perfect? I know a song should be made of parts that sound good together, but this was different. All the Neptunes’ production sounded weird, yet still musical. Noises that weren’t meant to be played together, let along accompany Kelis… just did.

I remember the song ‘Game Show’ that it’s so being so dramatic but simple. I’d get so into it, learning every word, dancing along with my pack back vacuum, awaiting the bizarre outro of the song every time. To this day I still reference Pharrell’s bass line in this song.

I loved this album so much, I used Dad’s colour printer to copy the amazing artwork (and also burn the CD) for my friends. I think I gave out illegal copies of this album to three of my friends for their bday.

Not that I ever want to be underpaid for cleaning toilets at 15 years old again, but because of Kelis’ Kaleidoscope… I really don’t have a bad memory from that time!


Nina Las Vegas’s new EP ‘Lucky Girl’ is out now!

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