Name: Kevin Drew aka K.D.A.P.
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, producer
Current release: With his new project K.D.A.P., Kevin Drew is exploring new musical paths outside of his main band Broken Social Scene. His first album under the moniker is called Influences and available via Arts & Crafts Productions.
If you enjoyed this interview with Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene & K.D.A.P., visit his official website for more information. Alternatively, head over to the Broken Social Scene homepage.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
Planning vs the vessel approach are usually the two options of creation. As I get older with the numbers I find the unknown source to be the most reliable. There is a freedom that holds a mysterious quality to it when you find yourself writing without a goal or a dominating message to it.
Everything about us is personal and political. It’s in the makeup of our identity. So to tap into a break up, a love story or a cause/protest is what makes most songs appear ... I always found that what surrounds those subjects and the historic way that we feel the need for those subjects to continue with our creative content is where the real gold is. The edges around the subject is where the lyrics and melody hold new ground.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
I’m a huge fan of the moment. As I continue to get back to work with other artists or bands I tend to ask them not to come into the studio with a bunch of tunes. I find honesty within building from the ground up and adore the idea of first thought best thought. I don’t believe in demos because I feel you are then putting those notions of impulse into your own semi like jail.
The freedom comes from the unexpected impulse in the studio. Chasing careers or formatted ways of trying to embrace the mainstream only holds back the process of being true to who and what you are beside the recording console.
Everyone has a song in them. Not everyone has a corporate sponsorship behind that song. Honesty can pay the rent because honesty within sound is still very much accepted by the people. They can hear it. They want it. They need it.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
The morning always holds a fresh thought to creating things for me. It’s not the sexy stereotypical rock n roll hours we have all been fed to believe … It's waking up and writing within the day that has yet to happen. It can evoke the beauty bombs of influence.
I like to do some stretches, drink a pot of coffee and look for my dead friend's guidance while looping beats and hooks.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
I only start with rhythm now. Sometimes I would build drones … but it's the beat that guides me now.
With this project, K.D.A.P, that was the only way for me. Using the app called Endlesss allowed me to spend time and great detail in finding the bpms that made my emotional state agree with my fingers. Rhythm is the god of our body. Don’t make me quote Janet Jackson ...
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
The work emerges by finishing the idea. Take it all the way to the end. Countless amounts of times you wonder if you should bail on a tune … I like to bypass that and go to the end.
Walking in knowing you want nine tunes, walking in knowing you want a forty minute record, walking in having a mantra to follow while remaining flexible to be guided into another territory is what works for me. The more you dive in and let go of resistance then the more you can surprise yourself with the end result.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
Not to repeat myself ... But control is for the birds. I’ve done many controlling recordings in my time and I have no space for that anymore. The only way you are going to get anywhere in life is to let it go. The only way you will get the best out of others is to let them be able to feel safe while breathing under water.
Guidance is not control. I have no problem having my hand held and I have no problem holding my own hand.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
The first time I lost a friend I was nineteen. In the years that came I have lost more and most of them were musicians. I like to think I’m holding a space for them to come and jam.
So many times in my life I have listened back to something and heard a back up vocal that wasn’t put down or a hook that comes to you from an unknown source. It’s comforting to me. For some … it’s crazy talk …but for me … it keeps me connected. Keeps me dreaming.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
Well … I’m getting better at finishing my endings. Usually you just accept that you have reached a point where the thinking, the analysis, the loop of change has to stop. It’s no different than life and how you walk through it. Endings are inevitable. There's always a beginning around the corner waiting for you to bring it to its end so it can last forever.