Kan Wakan arrives with a striking breadth of vision that immediately places them among modern pop’s most beguiling and inventive new artists. The Los Angeles-based group’s extraordinary self-titled debut EP introduced their ornate and enveloping amalgam of psychedelic soul, post rock, electronica, noir jazz, 60s soundtrack stylings, and orchestral pop, all reshaped and rearranged to create something both startlingly original and utterly contemporary.
“KAN WAKAN” – which heralds the band’s full-length debut, entitled “MOVING ON,” arriving everywhere June 2014 – is highlighted by “Forever Found,” and first single, “Like I Need You,” which has already been championed by the ever-influential public radio station, KCRW, as well as by LA Weekly, which recently named Kan Wakan among the “Los Angeles Bands About To Blow Up.”
Kan Wakan emerged in early 2012, the musical brainchild of composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Gueorgui I. Linev. The Bulgarian-born musician originally set out to create solely instrumental music inspired by his lifelong passion for classical minimalism, but the involvement of chanteuse Kristianne Bautista and producer/guitarist Peter Potyondy rapidly saw the project grow in both scope and purpose.
“Initially the project began as an outlet for me to perform some of my bedroom instrumental ideas with a small chamber ensemble comprised of strings, brass and percussion” Linev says, “At one point it felt natural to me to introduce guitars, keyboard and drums into the mix, and around this time is when I met with Peter and Kristianne. It took a very natural course as we spent the next year or so experimenting together and more like minded musicians came into the mix.”
As the core group built upon a truly variegated palette of influences, common musical themes began to manifest, including a epic but cinematic deep soul approach inspired by such icons as Bill Withers and Nina Simone. “Forever Found” – the band’s first fully fleshed track – proved the aural template from which Kan Wakan lit out on their exploration of what Linev refers to as “the juxtaposition of song and symphony.”
At the forefront is Bautista’s powerful, provocative voice – described by Linev as not unlike “the lead instrument in an orchestra” – which conveys remarkable levels of romantic nuance and human complexity to songs like the mysterious “Moving On.” With a name inspired by the word in Tagalog (Kristianne’s native language) for interstellar/outer space, “Kalawakan,” the trio was abetted with various players live, all of whom help bring the bold sonic vision to full fruition.
“Many roots of ideas are inspired by moving picture and fiction. A lot of arrangement ideas usually start with a quick sentiment, and develop viscerally undocumented over some time before I feel comfortable enough writing them down.”
Kan Wakan’s opening demos earned them well-deserved attention, including significant airplay on the one and only KCRW. Having made an instantaneous impact, the band then spent the better part of 2013 recording at studios around the greater Los Angeles area. Produced by Linev (aka Crooked Waters), co-produced by Potyondy and multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning producer/engineer Darrell Thorp (Radiohead, Beck, Air, Gnarls Barkley) and Mixed by GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Tom Elmhirst (Adele, Florence and the Machine, The Black Keys, Arcade Fire, Amy Winehouse) the sessions were adorned with sumptuous strings performed by the Metamorphosis Chamber Orchestra and conducted by Linev’s beloved uncle, Bulgarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra music director/conductor Stefan Linev.
“We wanted to put no limits on what we were setting out to do,” Linev says. “We tried to put as much of ourselves on the record as possible so that we can look back on it as a real and honest statement of who we were in that moment, both musically and spiritually.”