Ever since Kirin J Callinan launched his career as an exciting, occasionally-controversial, yet forever-intriguing musician more than 15 years ago, he’s remained one of the country’s most consistently-underrated artists, amassing a firm and fervent following despite little to no mainstream recognition.
Having first risen to fame as part of Mercy Arms back in the mid-to-late ’00s, Callinan has since flexed his musical muscle immensely, not only crafting a solo career in addition to his work with Night Game, Genesis Owusu, and Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders, but also working with the likes of Mark Ronson, Jimmy Barnes, Alex Cameron, Connan Mockasin, and brothers Neil and Tim Finn, to name but a few.
However, no matter how many boundaries he pushes with his work, or how much his musical profile continues to grow, Callinan remains loyal to his hometown of Sydney and the surrounding spaces which influenced his growth into the musical chameleon he is today.
In an effort to draw back the curtain on his life and unveil some of the many mysteries to his character, Kirin J Callinan has been featured Hometown Heroes, the new documentary from Byron Bay clothing brand THRILLS which aims to give viewers a front-row seat into his influences, and the places and spaces that serve as integral to his journey.
Having grown up on Sydney’s affluent Northern Beaches, Callinan has undoubtedly amassed a sentimental list of hidden gems like no other across his life. However, while the intention of Hometown Heroes may be to allow Callinan to provide a guided tour of his beloved home city, the unapologetically raw and lo-fi film goes far beyond its goal, providing viewers with a rare and candid insight into the inner workings of the artist’s mind, and an unexpectedly sincere side to his persona.
Even as the Nat Collins-directed film begins, viewers are provided with an idea of just how unexpected and unplanned much of it was. Having arrived to film at his Paddington apartment on a Friday afternoon, plans soon changed, with the opening titles noting that “nothing that we had planned took place that day”.
“I’ll take you around to my favourite places in Sydney; the city I love,” Callinan begins as he wades into a swimming pool, fully-dressed with bright orange soccer boots. As he continues, he speaks intimately about his “love for the majesty of the South Pacific” and “it’s ego and narcissism”, before showcasing his go-to places and the inside of his enigmatic apartment to viewers.
As Callinan invites viewers on a journey around the streets of Sydney, we’re taken not only on a modern day travelogue, but a journey of the artist’s own self-discovery. In his own affable and unique way, Callinan points out where his first band, Mercy Arms, first formed, and unveils where he received his first tattoo. It’s as raw and as unguarded as both Callinan and Sydney often are.
Arriving at a time of great change and chaos for Sydney, the first episode of the Hometown Heroes series shines a rarely-seen light on some of the places which, while they might not mean much to the average citizen or outside observer, hold far more sentiment and meaning than could ever be predicted.
“I have an unconditional love for Sydney,” Callinan concludes, “even when it breaks my heart.”
The first episode of THRILLS’ Hometown Heroes will be streamed via the THRILLS website.