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Imperfect Stranger is the pseudonym of Glasgow based soundtrack composer and producer Kenny Inglis. “Everything Wrong is Right” is his debut solo album for Castles in Space.
Born in 1975, Kenny didn't listen to much music, unless it was the opening credits to a TV show or a film score that had caught his ear. "I loved the pre-title music on a lot of those 80's U.S. TV shows. From the family orientated stuff like The A-Team, to darker dramas such as The Equalizer. My mother would let me stay up to watch the opening sequence of the latter then send me to bed because the story would be too heavy for a kid. That left me with this hanging sense of ambiguity as to what would happen in that hour after the titles came up.”
Exposure to a work colleague’s tiny project studio in a kitchen cupboard was a lightbulb moment for him and the experience of utilising music technology as a way of writing and producing entire tracks stirred a wave of determination to chase a career in music using the opportunities that technology could offer. Kenny figured the best way to move forward was to start a small project studio and learn his craft as a recording engineer. "It was a bit of a shock to the system. I literally had no idea how to work any of the equipment. Kenny focused on learning as much about the craft as he could whilst winging his way through recording and mixing everyone from the likes of singer/songwriters to bands, to voiceovers artists and anything in between. "Eventually, I stopped writing the music I thought people would want to hear, and started writing the music I wanted to make. I didn't come from a music loving background, but I was always obsessed by the way music and film would interact - how music brings this atmosphere and tone to even the most mundane visual stuff. I wanted to capture that. I wanted to grab some of that ambiguity I felt from the TV shows of my childhood and make it into a project of some sort". That project was Spylab. A dark, downtempo project with a cinematic edge. The initial demo consisted of three tracks, with the melancholic 'This Utopia' leading the playlist.
"At the time you did demos on normal cassette tapes. I remember having this endless battle with the bias control to try and get the best sound I could on these little tapes. Ten went in the post one Monday morning, and the following Monday there were three offers from three different labels. Studio K7 were interested in a singles deal, as was Flying Rhino in London. But then there was an offer from a Chicago based label by the name of Guidance Recordings. They wanted an album, and were offering a $15,000 advance. It wasn't a difficult decision to make"
Writing and recording Spylab 'This Utopia' began in 1999. The album took a whole year to produce. The album was to catch the attention of Mary Anne Hobbs at Radio One. At the time Mary Anne was presenting The Breezeblock - a late Sunday night show with an eclectic playlist of alternative electronic music. Picking out the album's title track 'This Utopia', Mary Anne would go on to play it no less than 8 weeks in a row. A request for Spylab to DJ on the show was to follow. "I had never DJ'd before. I think I had a week to figure out how to do that and put a playlist together. I'm not entirely sure how I pulled that off.” In March 2001 the Spylab album was finally released to a hoard of excellent reviews. A North American live tour would follow. From the launch party in Los Angeles, to a sell out show at SXSW in Austin. "I then started a new project under the name Cinephile. It had some of the core elements of the Spylab sound but it was deeper, more cinematic.” Kenny received news that a track from the previous project Spylab had been requested by HBO for the first episode of a new TV drama called Six Feet Under. This was to become a major turning point in Kenny's career. The Spylab track 'Celluloid Hypnotic' dropped during a poignant party scene of the first Six Feet Under episode. Within a couple of days Kenny was getting requests for music from other music supervisors. "It was a chain reaction. The Six Feet Under sync was like the tip of an iceberg. One day I called CBS in America and they put me on to the CSI music supervisor and I managed to get on a call with him. I sent the Cinephile stuff out and within a few months I got this fax through from CBS - a quote request for one of the tracks for a potential use on CSI. It changed my life."
The tone and style of Kenny's music sat perfectly with the CSI score requirements. So much so he found himself part of a pool of incidental writers who worked on all three aspects of the franchise - CSI, CSI: NY, and CSI: Miami. This would continue until 2013, when the last of the series would come to an end.
"I was juggling a bunch of stuff for those ten years. Writing material for CSI, whilst releasing new Cinephile stuff and playing live. As Cinephile continued to gather pace, one of the tracks from Kenny's efforts on CSI was chosen for the Hollywood trailer for the Samuel L. Jackson film 'Lakeview Terrace'. Further trailers would follow, from Gangster Squad to Dead Man Down, Spike Lee's Undisputed Truth, to Fifty Shades Freed.
At the same time, Kenny picked up his first factual commissions in the UK, and this too would be the beginning of a regular run of fully scoring factuals and documentaries. By 2021, six of these had won BAFTAs. He also would find himself soundtracking adverts for the likes of Nike, Audi, and American AirlinesIn early 2020, Kenny made a return to focusing on his own music under the pseudonym Imperfect Stranger. A tweet from Colin Morrison from Castles In Space regarding a charity compilation album 'The Isolation Tapes' caught his eye. Kenny had made a start on his debut album as Imperfect Stranger and submitted the track 'Hymn To The Sun' (which would become the lead track on the album). Further discussions ensued, and the album found a home on CiS. "I had been doing TV and film stuff for almost ten years. It paid the bills and was as close to a 'real job' as I'd had, but I yearned to get back to writing for myself, so doing an album for Castles in Space was a joy.
“The music I write is like a diary. There's an authentic narrative to everything i do. I don't write tracks for the sake of writing. I write tracks to diarise and process the stuff that I've lived through, and the experiences that have come along with the passing years. That's what makes me tick. It's a very public and vulnerable way of expressing myself. If people want to know the real me, all they have to do is listen."