As a musician, Kevin Drew has no rules. For more than 20 years his band Broken Social Scene, has navigated its way through the world of indie rock whilst becoming pioneers in the Canadian music industry. Shying away from traditional marketing and media avenues, the band (with its rotating lineup of members) has always chosen to focus their attention on the music, rather than those playing it. The same formula has been etched into Kevin Drew’s solo career with his latest album being released under the moniker K.D.A.P (Kevin Drew a Picture). His new electronic body of work is a product of the pandemic but removes itself from the dire and anxious narrative that most albums from last year transmit. Instead, K.D.A.P acted as a clean slate for Drew, who chose to dive deep into his younger self to find inspiration for his latest solo endeavour.
Part of that inspiration came after a bout with mono which left him on the couch for three months in middle school. Drew decided to fill his newly found free time by diving into the work of Italian film composer Ennio Morricone and it was here where his life long admiration for instrumental music and film scores began. As he got older, his musical tastes evolved and developed even further throughout the 90s electronic revolution.
“In the mid-90s it just blew up and became the greatest dream possible with music. Between Ninja Tune and Mo’ Wax, Touch and Go and Thrill Jockey, Drag City, 4AD, the records that were coming out were just constantly innovative and revolved around sound. I became an instrumental music junkie.”
But it was the downtime of 2020 that allowed Drew to create instrumental music on his own for the very first time. Unlike his work with Broken Social Scene, singing and playing the guitar wasn’t fulfilling him creatively. “It really, really, really struck a chord with me not to sing and it felt very comforting to be able to just experiment.” He continues, “As I was creating this I did feel free of my shit but it took a very long time to let it go… I came back to that youthful sense, that innocent sense of where I never made music to have a purpose, I just made music because I enjoyed my own soundtrack.”
Titled Influences, the new album pulls inspiration from all walks of life. It’s upbeat and lighthearted and creates a sonic contrast to the dark and uneasy times in which it was made. It was created on a smartphone using the music production app Endlesss and allowed Drew to explore the technical side of songwriting that made the process new and exciting again.
“It was wild! I had that youthful excitement which always sort of drives you because it feels fresh and it can inspire you to bust out of whatever loop you’re in. That’s what it provided me and within that I found myself everyday just writing and writing and writing and writing on this wonderful app.”
While it’s inevitable that some of Drew’s fanbase won’t gravitate towards his new electronic sound, the world of K.D.A.P allows for future projects and collaborations to flourish under their own brand. “It’s just cool to have a clean slate… something new, something fresh that I could work with others on. Possibly do soundtracks and remixes and just have another branch to express the emotion. That is what literally gets you out of bed everyday.”
Apart from solo albums and side projects, Drew can also look forward to the return of live music. His band, Broken Social Scene, has been selected for the first General Admission live show at the newly renovated Massey Hall in Toronto. The iconic stage closed its doors in 2018 to undergo a massive $135 million renovation project which is set to be completed this fall. The new floor plan will feature retractable seating in the Hall’s main theatre which will allow for both seated shows to take place along with GA shows for more upbeat performances.
For Drew and the rest of Broken Social Scene, getting back to Massey Hall means more than just the return of live music. At the helm of the recent renovation was Canadian music industry veteran Deane Cameron, who sadly passed away in 2019 before seeing the project’s completion.
“When I found out we were doing this show, I knew that for me it would be a way to salute him. He did some great things for a lot of people but he was especially kind to Arts & Crafts and to Jeffrey Remedios, who I started Arts & Crafts with. He was very supportive, very quietly supportive towards all our acts and it was a tragedy that he passed before he got to see how this whole renovation turned out. I know on a personal note I’ll be getting on that stage and I’ll be doing it for Deane Cameron.”
While the band’s lineup won’t be decided until later this year, the good thing about having a multitude of rotating bandmates means their captivating live show continues to stay fresh even after all this time.
“I’m not sure who the band is going to be but that’s exciting! It used to be a difficult task but now that we’ve been around for 20 years, it just makes the show interesting.”
Influences by K.D.A.P is now available via Arts & Crafts