Last Wednesday (Feb. 22), New Zealand courts released Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom on bail. It’s the latest development in a controversial case that has seen the one-time monolithic file-sharing site shut down, superstar artists filming a song in support of Megaupload.com, and rumors about Dotcom’s personal life electrifying up the Internet. But while the legal battles rage on in the courtroom — not least with reports that the New Zealand-based Kim is facing extradition to the USA — a new subplot to the Megaupload saga was unveiled last month when Hive discovered that Dotcom is in the process of recording his own solo album.
Dotcom’s project will be in part masterminded by Printz Board, the artist who’s best known for his production and writing work with the Black Eyed Peas and who heads up the Beets & Produce music stable. Last Friday, as Printz hopped in a cab to New York City’s La Guardia airport, Hive checked in with him to get the inside scoop on the sound of Kim’s album, the Megaupload man’s surprising musical taste, and how he plans to revolutionize the industry with his ideas to develop “new platforms” for music consumption.
Kim Dotcom is now free on bail. How is he doing?
I spoke to Kim yesterday and he was in good spirits. He’s very, very happy to be home and be with his kids and his wife and belatedly celebrating his birthday. I think it was very private party — like a family thing now they have an opportunity to say happy birthday to him.
Is the Kim Dotcom you know different from the one that’s been presented in the media?
Yeah, I mean, it’s stupid how people want to latch on to these photos that it seems are just one or two photos from aeons ago. Like if you look at his hair and his physique — it’s a different time! The guy is not part of the major playboy league — he has a pregnant wife with twins; he’s always at the house. Even when I was last with Kim, if I want to have male or female friends come by, he’s not even into it. It’s not his thing. He’s very loving, cool, a funny dude. He’s just not the playboy crazy guy that everyone paints him to be. I mean, he’ll do cool stuff, but it’ll be like he’ll say, “Let’s go to the top of this mountain!” or “Let’s go and look out from the top of this volcano!” He’s not going to be out there with a house full of women sitting around a hot tub!
So when did you first meet Kim Dotcom?
I met him in Paris, about a year and a half ago.
What were the circumstances of the meeting?
It was just us getting together and talking about his new music venture and how he really wants to do music and how he really loves [the Black Eyes Peas'] “Don’t Phunk With My Heart,” which I was [one of the songwriters]. That’s one of his favorite songs of all time. So we got together and talked about how we can try and do this project; he was telling me how he’s got new music platforms that he’s thinking about and how he wanted to work with the record labels and all this type of stuff.
So he had a very strong vision right from the start?
A very strong vision. That’s definitely one thing about Kim. His vision is not blurred. He’s not struggling for ideas. He has it all mapped out.
When he told you his plans for a music career, how did you react?
I was on board straight away, ’cause I knew that we were coming to a hiatus with the Black Eyed Peas and I was looking for that next thing. This was presented to me on a plate, so why not check it out? Especially with all the stuff he told me about that the world hasn’t seen yet, that was really appealing to me. When this happens, it’s going to be great for the entire industry.
So what is Kim Dotcom’s album going to sound like?
It’s gonna be more of what we saw in “Megaupload Mega Song,” so somewhere between that and a more spoken word thing. It’s more about just the character to it as opposed to [Kim] singing a song or trying to be a rapper. It’s just gonna be like poetry and rhythms but with a cool character and a vibe … that’s all I can say without giving it all away!
Are there going to be many guests on the album? Are the artists featured in the “Megaupload Mega Song” video going to also appear on the album?
You know, we were thinking about trying some guests on the album but at this point I’m not sure where people’s heads are at with it, what with all the controversy and how it all seems to be negative right now. Initially we were thinking we’d do the crux of it and if we bring someone in we’ll think about that later — like maybe we’ll bring someone in after three months and get a different vibe. We didn’t really have any plans for it to be featuring Lenny Kravitz and featuring Nicki Minaj — it’s not really going to go like that. Kim really just wants to do an album of songs he likes.
So what’s Kim Dotcom’s musical taste like?
It’s all over the place. He loves things like Prodigy and at the time same very mellow stuff with guitars in it. He’ll go from something really aggressive and then throw on some Michael Jackson. It’s a very wide range. So with his album he wasn’t thinking to put out a pop album and take over the market.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve heard him listen to?
The fiddle music that he likes! He loves fiddle music. [Laughs.] You know, he gets so excited, like, “Oh man this stuff is good, wait until you hear that!”
How many songs for the album have you completed?
Five — well, four maybe if you don’t count the “Megaupload” song. But we’ve worked on about 15 or 20 songs.
Does the album have a title yet?
We’ve really been thinking about just titling the singles, not really the album as a whole yet. But I’m sure it’ll say Mega-something!
What’s Kim Dotcom like to work with in the studio? What’s the vibe like?
He’s really interesting in the studio. He lets us do our thing. If I’m in there with him, he lets me do my thing and suddenly he’ll say, “I like that, that’s it, that’s the part I want!” if he really feels passionate about something. He’s like a consumer, a normal person and he doesn’t know the musical terms. He won’t say “Turn down the snare,” he’ll just say he doesn’t think a certain sound is working with the music. But, you know, if we’ve spent five hours looking for that snare sound we’ll be like, “Okay, whatever Kim!” It’s a good creative process.
You mentioned Kim told you he had some “new platforms” that he wanted to use to release the music. Can you give us any more information about those?
[Pauses.] I don’t know if I can technically without giving away licensing and copyright things … I can say that some of it’s been probably thought about but never done or tried. I’ll say that it will give more control to the artists, where you don’t have that same control with other platforms right now. It’s about where your fans are and where you’re coming from and how you globally focus and position yourself.
So will the album be given away as a free download? Or is this planned as a retail release?
Kim really wants to do some of the stuff as free downloads and also wants to do cool things like have a video that’s interactive, you know? It’s a lot of ideas going song by song. So I’m not really sure about the whole album.
Since Kim Dotcom’s arrest, have you had a lot of artists approaching you to get involved with the project?
Not really, because with the controversy I feel that in the industry most people think that this is too much, so no one’s really got down with it. [People] don’t want to have that kind of relationship. I understand that. But for me, Kim’s such a great person so I’ve got his back.