Kakagi

Originally published in Stylus Magazine, Volume 28, Issue 1

By Matt Harrison

“Caw-Caw-Gee?” imitated frontman Jacob Brodovsky as he gave me an idea of how some people pronounce the name of his band, Kakagi. The correct way, he assures me, is “Ke-Ka-Gi.”

The group is made up of four lifelong friends, two of which, drummer Max Brodovsky and the aforementioned singer/guitarist, Jacob, are siblings. Jesse Popeski and Jonathan Corobow make up the other half of this four piece folk-rock group from Winnipeg.

For the sake of answering the one question most fans of the band have asked, or been asked, Pronounced Ke-Ka-Gi is the name of the group’s first EP, released in November 2016.

The band admits to having gotten the idea from Lynyrd Skynyrd who, in 1973, released an album called Pronounced Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd in order to get ahead of any prospective mispronunciations. This commonality is the last point at which Kakagi draws similarity, or inspiration, from the Florida rock mob of yesteryear.

The seeds of Kakagi are sewn deep within the rich culture of Canadian music. With inspiration coming from Toronto’s The Band and Winnipeg’s own Neil Young, Del Barber and The Weakerthans.

When asked for less formal inspirations, each member of the group turned to their father. Jacob even went so far as to say “[Mine and Max’s] dad was a real music nut.”

Being exposed to scores of varying music at a young age will unquestionably allow an individual the opportunity to aim their life’s trajectory in that very direction. However none of the members of Kakagi I spoke to can attribute their desire to create music to any one person they knew growing up. They can all agree they began playing instruments at fairly young ages but there wasn’t a lot of music at home, save for what came through the stereo.

Still, Jacob says he’s wanted to play in a band since he was two years-old, “in diapers with a little toy guitar.”

Despite their roots being deeply furrowed in Winnipeg, the namesake of the band comes from elsewhere.

“We used to go to summer camp,” Jacob told me prior to a show at the Handsome Daughter. “We’d do canoe trips through the back lakes of North-Western Ontario. Kakagi was one of the lakes and I have a big map of that area on my wall.”

When Jacob recieved the call offering his band their first show the group still didn’t have a name. “I was just staring at the map when I got the call so I went with Kakagi.”

The choice to assemble Kakagi was born almost as quickly as the very name of the band. After spending time playing with a group in Toronto, Jacob came home to Winnipeg with a plan already in mind.

“Basically the idea was to come home and make a band as soon as possible.”

Having his brother Max come home from Guelph around the same time and already having been in a band called Radiation with his brother and Popeski, the pieces of the new project fell together. “It all came together pretty quick,” Jacob explained. “We started playing together last fall [2015] and our first show was in January [2016].”

When asked who does the songwriting for the group all eyes turned to Jacob. When decoding his process Brodovsky told me he likes to sit down for a couple hours at a time and just “put words on paper.”

“Sometimes it’s not very good,” he went on to say, “but I find that’s the most effective exercise. I find, also, listening to music that I like helps.”

With 10-12 originals written and two or three waiting to be released, the band is hopeful they’ll be able to release an EP by next fall [2017]. In the meantime, Kakagi is happy with where they’re at and where they’re headed. They agree that they’ve become better with every show and find themselves becoming more comfortable on stage as they become attuned to playing with one another.

What Kakagi brings to the Winnipeg scene is an informal folk-rock flavour that’s explicitly Canadian in audible fluidity and melodic harmony. Kakagi symphonically weaves personal poetic lyricism into a wreath of familiar vibes that can be understood from multiple perspectives.

This writer has no personal connections to Spadina Avenue -the star location of the song “Spadina Streetcar”, but I have my own Spadina with my own memories. Anyone can say the same about some place that once meant nothing to them but, with the right amount of good times and good people, wound up being the place they come back to when the merciless ropes of nostalgia synch tight around one’s heart. We all have our Spadina Avenue.

This song, which is my own particular favourite of Kakagi, brings on the familiarity of home and the people in it. This is an exemplary showing of the depth and profundity of Canadian music. This is Kakagi.

Keep up with Kakagi:

Facebook.com/kakagimusic/

Kakagi.bandcamp.com/releases

Kakagimusic.com/

Lev Snowe

Originally published in Stylus Magazine, Volume 27, Issue 6

By Matt Harrison

Winnipeg’s newest electro indie-rock band, Lev Snowe, is set to hit centre stage this coming December. Lev Snowe is a mellow toned rock group made up of best friends, Daniel, George, Lev, and Tim who share the credit where it is due. Never in your life will you meet a group of such well mannered, polite young gentlemen. Their kindness is not to be taken for weakness as they crank up the volume and leave you wanting more.

On their debut EP, Drifting Off, there’s a subtlety of rhythm that is felt in the music before it can be fully understood with the lyrics. Front man Lev Snowe writes all the instrumental verses as well as lyrics but he’ll be the first to admit how important his band mates are to bringing the sounds of his creation to life.

“Technically,” Lev explained, “I recorded all the parts on the EP. It’s with these guys that my songs are really given energy.”

This humble tone is shared by the band entirely. All any of them had to say about one another is how vitally important the next member is to the band. Whether it’s complementing Daniel’s ear for structure, George’s genius in planning the band’s shows, the new skills they’ve achieved musically thanks to Tim’s synthesizer skills or the depth and complexity of Lev’s lyrics. This band revolves around friendship, comradery, and “rockin’ the heck out.”

The comradery of musicianship doesn’t stop there for Lev Snowe. They played a show the night I spoke to them before which another local band, Champagne Years, was on stage. The crowd seemed timid to allow themselves to be fully absorbed by the music except for four young men standing front row, centre stage. It was, of course, the members of Lev Snowe, dancing and bobbing their heads to every beat. When I asked if they had any connection to Champagne Years they said they didn’t but wanted to show their support to another local band.

“It’s tough to play in front of people,” Lev explained to me. “We always want to be there to support anyone.”

Singer/guitarist Lev told me the beginning of what he refers to as his “music project” came on a day he spent in Gimli, Manitoba. He wrote an instrumental guitar piece and decided he was, for the first time, going to add lyrics to what was already written. “I went off to a field and wrote lyrics to the song. That was the first moment I felt this could be something more than it [was].”

A few months later Lev recorded a few of his creations and made his EP. It was bassist George who finally decided they should assemble a band to play these songs live. Thus Lev Snowe was created.

The aforementioned EP Drifting Off was released in January of 2016 and in the time since the band has seen a stark upswing in their ability as musicians. On top of that, this has been an opportunity for these self described “shy boys” to shine in a way they may have not been able to otherwise.

“Every show we improve. I never expected us to develop as fast as did” explained bass guitarist, George before saying with a laugh “the onstage banter is better than it’s ever been!”

Mid-performance jokes about flame bedazzled PT Cruisers aside, the band unanimously agrees they they’re better now than they’ve ever been. “My favourite part about being in a band is seeing how much we’ve grown” master of the synthesizer Tim stated with the full agreement of his band mates.

What the future holds for Lev Snowe is more of the same; continue creating with improvement and perfection held as the ultimate goal. More than that, Lev Snowe strives to create the opportunity for their fans to have as much fun watching the show as they have performing.

“The crowd isn’t always feeling the excitement so we like to welcome the crowd to the groovy environment” Lev said with a smile. “They don’t have to dance but I’m just going to dance and make it open enough so they might feel comfortable.”

Their silliness off stage is matched by the mystery of their songs. “I believe the music itself should be serious but I’m not a serious person myself” Lev stated.

All in all Lev Snowe is an up and coming band with a familiar comfort to their tone. They produce music that makes you feel good that can turn up past 11 when the lights come on.

To find out more about Lev Snowe, upcoming dates, or their EP Drifting Off, find them at any of the following:

Facebook.com/LevSnowe

Soundcloud.com/LevSnowe

Twitter.com/LevSnowe