Oliver Hindle is Superpowerless – Winner of the MTV Fast Track Competition [Photo by Alistair Darley]
Back in January, MTV and Vodafone launched Fast Track, a contest designed to find and break a new musical act. Solo artists and bands from all over the world submitted their entries and the polls were opened up to the public. Once the voting stopped, the top 20 entrants were put in front of a panel of 5 judges – industry professionals who spent the next week picking the one act they felt captured the originality, individuality and something special that would really grab people’s attention. The winning track was Wasted My Time by Oliver Hindle – the 20-year-old electro-artist behind Superpowerless.
As part of the Fast Track prize, Oliver and Steve Brunton — Oliver’s live gig partner — re-recorded Wasted My Time with renowned producer and DJ, Andy Chatterley. Andy has been Grammy nominated as part of The Buick Project, and played keyboard and synths on Kanye West’s Graduation album, most notably on the hit single Stronger.
Superpowerless were also sent to London to shoot a music video for the winning track with director Luc Janin, who has previously directed promos for Stereophonics, The Fratellis, Boy Kill Boy and Lethal Bizzle. Oliver found out about his big win through a phone call while riding the bus, “I don’t think the rest of the passengers shared my excitement … I rang nearly everyone in my phone book and had the same conversation over and over until I ran out of credit.”
The video will debut on MTV on the 23rd of March in 29 countries, but you get to see it here early because I love you and MTV was nice enough to let me post it in all of its radtastic glory:
Oliver started off as a drummer in a punk-pop band, learned guitar and played some acoustic sets at college. He was then introduced to electronic music which would influence his musical direction. “After hearing the Postal Service, I started listening to electronic bands like Depeche Mode, Adult, and Motion City Soundtrack. I decided it was something I wanted to have a go at, so I bought a synth off eBay and started putting some songs together.”
Oliver dubs Superpowerless “Game Boy-fueled adventure-core” music, and his winning song Wasted My Time is a perfect example of this catchy electro-pop. As intense as it is, the entire video was shot in one day. “There were weeks of preparation behind it,” said Oliver, “I was amazed at how many people were working on it on the shooting day. It was crazy to think that they were all there to work on something for a song I’d written at home for something fun to do. The most memorable part of the shoot was the guy in the monster costume having a serious conversation with me (while wearing full costume) about what his acting influences were and me trying to keep a straight face [laughs]. I’m really grateful to Vodafone and MTV for everything, it’s been an amazing experience!”
Superpowerless can be seen at live events near Leeds, their hometown, literally tearing it up on stage. At a recent show at Gasworks in Bradford – a metal venue – Oliver and Steve played in true rock star style, “I managed to pull the mixer off of the table we’d put it on during a gig but it was still working so we carried on playing regardless,” Oliver said. “In the same gig I threw my Game Boy at the drum kit and the cartridge and batteries and everything all went off in different directions which was a bit of hassle to sort out ready for the next song, but there’s a picture out there of a Game Boy that survived a bomb, so damaging them is a pretty hard task!”
Superpowerless is not a one-hit wonder. As soon as they got back from shooting Wasted My Time in London, they came back and shot a video for Robots Need Love Too sans fancy director. Oliver gave me the scoop. “Some of my friends are really in to filming silly videos so we thought we’d have a go at doing one ourselves so we could get something online fast. Talked to a few friends and we decided it’d be a good idea to run around the city wearing cardboard boxes. We discuss things like this all the time but then everyone pulls out or forgets and nothing comes of it, but everything went ahead and we managed to get some really good footage! We got an equal amount of abuse from people that don’t like to see other people having fun and also people that were really in to it and thought it was genius. I think this comes across in the video from peoples expressions, I’m really happy with it!
“There’s some scenes that we didn’t manage to fit in, like lots of fight scenes between us robots and the scientist. We ran in to places like Sainburys and just started rugby tackling each other and rolling around wrestling. It was really fun but the footage didn’t work as there were too many people stood in the way of the camera. We got kicked out of Gamestation and a shopping center too. We had no permission to film anywhere but we managed to blag to some council people to let us carry on. Also the bit where we’re dancing, we payed a busker to let us play the track using an iPod through his amp so we could actually dance to the proper track which was fun!”
Superpowerless is currently working on a new album. “I have all the tracks written and rough versions recorded, I’m just in the process of getting them all to the same standard,” Oliver says. “We’re filming another music video to a song I wrote a long time ago called ‘Zombie Survival Plan.’ The idea for the video at the moment is that we’re going to get as many people as possible dressed as zombies in Leeds’ train station. I’m not sure what we’ll do once we’re there … but I imagine it’ll be a decent video!”
Most of Oliver’s free time is spent working on his music. “I don’t really have time to play games anymore, which is pretty depressing!” he says. “To be fair though, I like it this way as you end up having something you created at the end of it and it’s not like dead time. Don’t get me wrong, I love video games!”
So what does Oliver think of music-based video games like the Guitar Hero/Rock Band series? “I think they’re a pretty cool idea and if I had more time and money I’d probably get in to them. To be fair, I’m really bad at them and it’s quite gutting!” But that won’t stop Oliver from tweaking it to work for his shows, “I’m in the process of setting it up so we can use a PlayStation dance mat to trigger samples from a laptop. The same is possible with a Guitar Hero controller, so I might end up finding myself on stage with one [laughs].”
For any of you budding chip tune artists out there, Oliver wanted to share some words of wisdom with you: “Stay away from forums!!! [laughs] Seriously!”
Wasted My Time is available to download from Vodafone Live! on 23rd of March. Superpowerless play The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch, London on the 24th of March.