Why this New York musician and video artist comes to KC to work

Cody Critcheloe moved to New York in 2010 and hasn’t played a show in Kansas City for two years, but he says it feels like home.

Last year, Critcheloe — who makes music as Ssion (pronounced “shun”) and has directed videos for acts like Kylie Minogue and Robyn — released an album called O, praised by Pitchfork as a “witty multimedia alt-pop project [that] exults in uncensored queerness.”

Originally from Kentucky, Critcheloe started Ssion when he moved to KC to attend the Kansas City Art Institute, and much of the project’s creative process still happens here.

You’re based in New York, but what makes Kansas City still feel like home?

I moved there when I was 18, and I feel like in a sense I grew up there. I consider the friends I’ve made there to be family to me, and I’m still really close with a lot of the people there. A couple months ago we were shooting in KC, and it was amazing. I just love being there. I love making work there, and I think that for me — without sounding too stupid about it — I really enjoy making things, and that’s when I have the most fun, and I feel like it’s often some of my best stuff when I’m there. Also, there’s a chillness to it, you know? The last thing we shot there, we brought people in from L.A. and New York and just exposed them to the Kansas City vibe and the freedom and sort of DIY kind of fun that can happen there.

Why do you bring other artists to Kansas City for videos?

We can just shut down a road in the middle of the night and set up this DIY film crew. It’s nice to pull people away from [New York and L.A.]. We’re going to be up all night, and we’re going to be doing some really weird scenes in really weird locations, and it’s going to be super magical, but it’s only going to happen [in Kansas City].

What’s on your must-do list whenever you come back?

I really enjoy just catching up with friends. I’m a real cheeseball. My favorite thing to do is to get on a Bird or a Lime [scooter] and ride around with people.

Have you moved on from O yet?

I’m always writing songs and thinking about the context of Ssion and what I want to do next, but I do it in a way that’s not forced. Usually after a Ssion release, the director side of my career picks up a lot. It allows me a moment to not be such a narcissist. Sometimes I’ll feel like I have a really great idea and I’m the only freak who’s crazy enough to pull this off.

GO: Ssion with Bath Consolidated, Dec. 19. recordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd., KCMO. 8 pm. $13-$15. therecordbar.com

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