Kawnar: BE DFFRNT
How many times have you had the opportunity to be the FIRST fans of an upcoming superstar? Think about that for a second while you continue reading.
The first time I ever heard Kawnar was in 2008, on an album put out by DFEST (“Dfest is the Midwest’s largest music festival and most comprehensive music conference”). The song they chose was “Lost”:
“Lost” is, as you’ll agree, insanely awesome. I was immediately hooked, and wanted to hear more. And, to my great joy & surprise, not only was “Lost” available as a download (in whatever audio format I wanted), Kawnar had (has) the entire album (“Unclear”) available for download, for FREE:
Some of my favorites from that album are:
and of course
You diggin it yet?
OK, so I’m totally blown away, and I don’t even like “Hip Hop”, per se. It’s just that I see that this kid (he was 17-18 when he recorded “Unclear”, and just graduated from high school in 2007!) has some “real deal” talent, so I contact him. I wanna help him achieve his dreams and goals. And I see something else too: Kawnar really does have “it”. “IT” being that difference making “thing” that separates Kid Rock from “Tarball & Scar”. And if you haven’t heard of “Tarball & Scar”, well that just proves my point.
Anyway, fast-forward to two years later, and with absolutely NO help from yours truly, Kawnar has a new album out, and I, for one, can’t wait to share it with you!
What follows is a mostly accurate discussion/quasi-interview between this future “Hall of Famer” and myself:
Pants: OK, here we GO# (nice segue huh) ~ These are my “notes to self” about the songs on the album.
Kawnar actually *sings*?! Holy shit, cool stuff! Sections of this remind me of MGMT, while other parts remind me of Third Eye Blind. For lack of a better descriptor, this is a “Full” song; it just sounds…”full”. Complete. Fully developed. Musically dense.
Build It Up (break it down)
Definitely conjuring up some Third Eye Blind echos in my head. I like this song.
In a freaky (yet positive) way, this song kinda-sorta reminds me of Depeche Mode, and a little bit of New Order as well. Don’t throw anything at me dude; I told you my references were *my* problem! What do rappers call it when another rapper has a “tight rap”? I mean to say, lyrically, you sound like a fucking precision watch, it’s pretty remarkable.
Cool guitar playing. I can tell you’ve been practicing. I’m a guitar player (ish), so I definitely tune in to the guitar parts. Lyrically, the song just flows. Very nice.
I kept thinking about various shades of Flobots when I heard this. Once again, very “tight” rap. If that’s the right word. Whatever the word, you know what I mean. It’s just friggin “tight!”
Commence with the popishness! Cool song, reminds me of Third Eye Blind’s, “Semi-Charmed Life”.
Wings of an Elephant
The beat reminds me of the Beatles, and I’m figuring that’s probably not an accident. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just kept hearing Ringo on this tune. Definitely my favorite song of the bunch, and I’m not sure why, but I really dig it.
OK, some questions:
Pants: I take it as a given that I’ve completely fucked up the references, so in your opinion, how would you describe your music to somebody who wanted to know “Who Kawnar sounded like?” Also, I want to be sure to point out that everything is definitely *your* music, it’s definitely original. My references above are to be taken as, “When he wrote this song, maybe he’d just been listening to Third Eye Blind, and then it went through the Kawnar-filter, and came out.”
Kawnar: I usually say “Gorrilaz meets The Beatles”. It’s hard to define me, That’s a double-edged sword. All of the songs are somewhat inspired by other works:
go# – The Kooks – Niave
BIU – XV – Start A War
TS – Sam Sparro – 21st Century Life
HRTBRK – Smash Mouth – I’m a Believer
Pants: Ever think about providing lyrics?
Kawnar: I have, just getting to it is hard
Pants: What are the songs about? Is “Sheep”, for example, about people just being slaves to the mass-marketing-machine of network TV and radio?
Kawnar: Yes.. that is kinda what sheep is about.. its mainly me coming to grips that i will probably never make it due to me being “DFFRNT”.. so its a “bitter-driven” song!
Pants: How do you record this stuff? Do you come up with a beat, record it, then come back and play some synth over it, etc, etc? Continually adding layers? Or, do you have some buddies (PDA?) that come over and help out?
Kawnar: I did EVERYTHING on this except record the live drums. Literally, that’s why it took a year for 7 songs. Most of these songs where written on guitar and then transferred to beats.
Pants: How many different instruments do you play?
Kawnar: Comfortably, piano, guitar, and bass. I’ve dabbled in drums, but I’m not that great at it.
Pants: What sort of music do you figure they play in hell?
Kawnar: Well I think its relative, they play whatever you hate. The only 2 genres I don’t like are country and metal.. so they probably play Country Metal.
Pants: How long did it take you to record “Unclear”? And how long did it take you to record “BE DFFRNT?”
Kawnar: Ummm.. not sure really.. “BE DFFRNT” was a year. “Unclear” was a collection of songs. I make new songs all the time. I never have a start point and end point to something. I’ll be working on “Unclear” and make a song that i wont use on it ’cause it doesn’t fit. Same as “BE DFFRNT”. You’ll eventually hear these songs on other efforts.”
Pants: Can you hear songs in your head that don’t exist yet? Or, do you hear an existing song, and think, “it’d sound cooler like this…”, and then tweak it?
Kawnar: I have written tons of songs in my head that i haven’t recorded yet that i know are going to be on the next one.
GO# was a song I wrote in my head and eventually, 3 months later recorded. I have a song in my head called “Outer Space” that i wrote over a year ago that still hasn’t been recorded.
Pants: Dood…as a “wanna-be” musician, I want to tell you that I’m jealous. Fucker.
Kawnar: Well its usually not a good thing. Like I’m not sure if that song will ever happen.
Pants: (said the man with the talent)
Kawnar: When you sit on something too long it becomes calculated, and those are the worst songs.
Pants: It’s probably like writing then…not everything you write will be good…some stuff will, and some stuff won’t.
Kawnar: Some of the best stuff I have ever done was just me in the studio hitting record and making something up off the top of my head, really letting the feeling get out.
Pants: Just gotta keep writing…I know some of the best stuff I’ve written just happened…effortlessly…I didn’t have to work at it, it was just…”there”. Other stuff, I’ve worked my ass off on, and then it still sounded (read) like shit. So, I can relate. Do you record into your Mac? What do you mix with? Audacity?
Kawnar: I record on Mac’s.. “BE DFFRNT” was done in REASON and LOGIC. “Unclear” was done in Pro Tools
Pants: OK, so you have “real” software for getting it done.
Kawnar: Yeah i went to school for audio engineering so i know a lot about recording.. I’ve always done it myself.
Pants: That’s cool. That tells me a lot right there. I wondered how in the hell a freakin college-aged kid (no offense) was coming up with the kind of sound you do. Jimmy page was like that…he was just as talented in the recording booth as he was on the guitar.
And do NOT ask me who Jimmy Page was!
Kawnar: Led Zeppelin
Pants: Goddamn right Led-fuckin-Zeppelin you snot-nosed punk.
(I didn’t actually say that, but it’d have been funny if I did)
OK, so now you know a little bit about Kawnar. Here’s a little more; his real name is Connor. He’s a short, white, Irish kid. (I know, WTF?, right?)
And here’s one small way YOU can help.
OK seriously though. I’m releasing a new album called ‘BE DFFRNT’ on JUNE 2nd. And im attempting to get on the top charts of iTunes (big task) but doable with a little cheating… sooo if everyone buys my album at the exact time it isnt impossible for my album to be on the top 50 most downloads long enough for me to get a screenshot of this monumental event!
So if you are thinking about buying this new CD please do so on JUNE 2nd at 7pm. PLEASE purchase my album “BE DFFRNT” the price will only be $5.. and I know you can afford that, hell, im almost willing to pay you back. I just want this THAT bad!
I already have the album, I don’t have i-Tunes, and I’m STILL gonna be online at 7pm (Central Time) on June 2nd to purchase “BE DFFRNT” for a smokin-hot price of $5.
Five… Five… Five Dollar, Seven-Songs! [you know the tune]