Kaninchen are a Cornish two piece visual / art / spoken word / music combo who recently released their new EP 'Loss'. We caught up with Chris Trevena and asked him about good advice, lullaby singing dogs and lifts, here's how it went....
Please introduce the band and your music in one sentence....
A two piece visual spokenfolk act.
You’re called Kaninchen how did you come about choosing this name?
Sadly there isn't some cool back story, or intelligent arty reason for this. Basically, I (Craig) love rabbits and having studied German as a teenager, I liked how the word sounded. In hindsight it was an awful idea for a band name, after all, any searches for us come up with photographs of cute bunnies.
Who designed the artwork for your EP cover and what is the idea behind the balloons?
Both myself and Chris work in imagery and are keen photography and film buffs. Our artwork is often a collaboration between ourselves.
Initially our EP cover was going to be a hand reaching out for a red balloon but we couldn't make it work (there's a remix version of our EP and the artwork is a drawn version of this - https://soundcloud.com/dr-lakata/sets/kannichen-loss-dr-lakata). In the end we just sellotaped a red balloon into the corner of my flat and shot that.
We've always approached our release artwork in the same way which is: would this look cool as a vinyl release? The red balloon to me is such an iconic thing, like the girl in the red dress in Schindlers list. Red is such a powerful colour, and I think balloons for all of us symbolise our childhoods. The strength of the single red balloon against a backdrop of crème walls pretty much sums up the themes of the EP I think.
Where did you record your EP ‘Loss’ and what made you choose that studio?
Kaninchen is very much a lo-fi DIY project. We record everything ourselves in my bathroom. Chris then takes everything away and works for months afterwards producing it to the standard that it is. Everything we do is done off our own backs, we have taught ourselves to do everything because it is important to have control over your own output.
How has social media aided your music?
When we first began, we recorded an EP just for giggles more than anything. I had written three spoken word songs and Chris was nice enough to record it for me. When we put it on Soundcloud, we had such a nice response that we became an entity because of that. So basically, if it wasn't for social media, we wouldn't exist, and every new listen, download, every nice review, it drives us further to create more music.
Still, to this release, we've only released it online. We've only had online reviews. We have still yet to create a physical existence through excessive performances (sadly). Social media thus far, is our existence.
Act II is like eavesdropping in to a conversation, very eerie, especially mixed with the music used, can you explain the process of this and the information concerning the song?
Act II started as a piece of poetry called Icarus written on a utterly bleak Saturday morning. Weeks later, Chris and myself recorded a live version of another old song called Stranded on a cliff top and as we were walking home afterwards, I began messing around, and the guitar for Act II slowly took form.
Lyrically, Act II is inspired from an experience I found myself in during my early twenties where the person I was seeing at the time became pregnant. And then miscarried. Act II is almost a diary excerpt from this segment of my life, and is something that haunts me to this day.
What is the best advice you ever received and who was it from?
We had our first gig the other week and leading up to it I played to a handful of people because I suffer from stage fright and I wanted to find a way of working through it. Commenting after I had played my set list, one of my friends asked why I didn't do any songs from our catalogue that involved singing, and I told him it was because I wasn't confident enough about my voice. His response was; Go big or go home.
When I played the gig (without Chris, because he is away filming a band) I didn't include any songs that involved singing. And it has been plaguing me ever since. From now on I'll go big every time.
What does music mean to you?
It is an outlet. It is where we vent all the messed up things in our lives. If I wasn't able to scream out all of these bad things that are existing inside I'm not entirely sure where I would be right now, or if I would be. Both our music, and others, is a reason for breathing.
Would you rather live with a dog that sings lullabies or a gorilla that can do sign language?
A gorilla every time. I love dogs but there is something distinctly non-human about them all the same. Gorillas are probably more intelligent than some of my friends, and I bet they would give great cuddles.
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released?
Oh god, that's so tough. I know Chris' album will be totally different for mine, and for so many reasons. In fact, I think Chris would skip this question. It's so hard to pinpoint one album. I'm going to choose Nirvana 'In Utero' for nostalgic reasons. It was the first record I heard that felt real, emotionally, and at the same time had a rawness about it that should have never been allowed to be so popular in mainstream culture. Nirvana were one of the reasons I started writing poetry, so they are important to me even if we sound nothing like them.
Tell me a fascinating fact about Craig Taylor-Broad and Chris Trevena?
I'll tell you a funny fact about Chris as he isn't here to answer for himself. Chris makes himself out to be some intellectual being, and for the most part he is very educated, but his favourite film, is White Chicks, possibly one of the most low brow films in cinema.
This isn't a fascinating fact but, I still sleep curled up into a teddy bear. I haven't grown up and I guess I can't sleep without a feeling of comfort.
Being an unsigned band how hard is it to get noticed?
I think it's near impossible to get noticed now. There is such an over-saturation of people making music, which has it's good and bad points. The main thing I'm noticing is how hard it is to get shows now. When I was playing music ten years ago, bands would constantly talk to each other, offer each other shows, and people would put on gigs, even if it had to be in their living rooms. Now there is a sense of exclusiveness to a band, or a sense of egotism. Either way, it's not a great step forward to being in a band.
Do you own a record that you wouldn’t like to admit you have?
There are probably so many. If I haven't been listening to something for a long time I will sell it though. Over the years I must admit to having bought albums by Norah Jones, Gwen Stefani, Justin Timberlake, Daniel Bedingfield and Savage Gardens. In my defence though, they are all fantastically produced records. Gwen Stefani is definitely a low point though, that shit was bananas.
Is there something you would like to tell each other that you haven’t told them before?
I'd like to think that me and Chris know the important things about each other and that is that we have a lot of love and respect for each other. Beyond that, I'm not sure what else is important.
What classic song would you have liked to have recorded and why?
Chris and I spoke about classic songs the other week ago strangely. We agreed that the majority of time, classic songs exist only by reputation rather than by the real skill of a song. I'd love to do a spoken word of Thriller by Michael Jackson though, just imagine how miserable we could make it.
First gig you ever went to?
It was a show local to me that was headlines by a UK band at the time Pitchshifter. We were seated because I was too scared to be stood up, and my dad took me. I am the epitome of cool.
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as dinner party guests?
Charles Bukowski, Adam Gnade, and Oscar Wilde.
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
Oh there are so many great artists that people are probably missing out on; Jordaan Mason, Little Kid, Xiu Xiu, Giles Corey, The Antlers, Adam Gnade. These are all bands who inspire Kaninchens music direction.
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
It would be Holden in Catcher In The Rye. Whiny with hints of an attitude.
What are your plans for what remains of 2014?
We would really like to tour. We want to play in the States, and over Europe. We'll play living rooms, garden parties, bars, cafés. If you have a room to play in, we want to pour our sadness into it. If anyone wants us to play, just contact us; firstname.lastname@example.org
Whilst we were chatting to Chris, our minds started to wander to thoughts of Cornish ice cream and pasties, sat quietly on the promenade, watching the world go by.....we thought a few quick fire questions would get us back into the swing of things.
Lifts or Stairs? Stairs (I'm scared of lifts)
Drum Machine or the Real Deal? Drum machine (drummers always show up late for practice)
Mac or PC? PC
Fry up or Sunday roast ? Vegan Sunday Roast
Pasty or Kebab? Vegan Pasty.
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)? Lemmy. (I don't condone abusing animals Ozzy!)
CD or Vinyl? Vinyl.
Brazil or Argentina (Football?) Brazil.
Car or Motorbike? Car.
Acoustic or Electric? Acoustic (you can't hide behind anything with an acoustic).
Pixie or Fairy? Fairy.
Shower or Bath? Shower.
Tattoos or Piercings? Tattoos.
Robert De Niro or Al Pacino? Robert De Niro (Come on, Taxi Driver!)
God or Google? Only Google exists.
We'd like to thank Chris for sparing the time to answer our questions and we wish the band every success in the future, especially with the release of the 'Loss' EP.
Interview by Mark Wincott