Interview with Keith Canisius

Our first interview of the year is with the wonderful Keith Canisius. Currently living in Copenhagen but originally from the US, Canisius is making some of the freshest music we’ve heard in a long time and it doesn’t look like he’s planning on stopping any time soon. Cat On The Wall’s Jo Whitby caught up with Keith via email…

Cat On The Wall: Hello Keith! To start us off could you tell us a little about yourself? When did you first realise you wanted to make music? What was the first instrument you played?

Keith Canisius: Think I realized at an early age of 4 that I was somewhat fascinated by music. I wanted to be like Howard Jones and have a Mohawk at that age or Eddie Van Halen jumping around with his guitar. My older brother had drums and a synth and my parents had a piano in the house, but it took a while before I picked up guitar and started really learning how to play music at age 13.

COTW: It sounds like you were quite prolific musically in a short space of time getting 4 albums and an EP under your belt in 4 years (some artists take 4 years just to get one album recorded). How did you manage yourself creatively? Did you have a specific creative process?

KC: I have a digital ambient guitar album coming out though Darla records the 31st January as well with unreleased ambient drone tracks from 2006-09. I don’t really know, the basic things comes pretty easy for me, when it comes to writing music. It’s like when I start one good idea the rest writes itself pretty easy mostly.
I’m worrying more about stuff around the track like “am I producing it good enough?”, “am I using the right snare?”, “should I sing this an octave lower?”, “do I have to many layers?”, “is the track too long?”.
It’s still about writing good songs and that is always the most important and difficult.

COTW: Have you ever hit a creative block and if so what do you do to get yourself out of the dry spell?

KC: I never really had any problem, but after doing my best album so far, ‘This Time It’s Our High’ (Darla) it took me a while to realise that my new writings were actually good, because that album seemed so perfect at the time of releasing it in September.

It was like, “where do I go from here?” But I found out. It takes working and working just to get back into what road you want to take after a really good album, at least for me.
Music creation and what I want create is never static, but sometimes ideas comes easy and other times I can be too critical of my work. That’s when I need a few days break from a track probably.
The best music things are when I’m not thinking too much about them and just doing them. That’s how you make real hits 🙂

COTW: ‘This Time It’s Our High’ is your latest album and I must say it’s a real pleasure to listen to. Really fresh. Is there a theme musically or lyrically to the album? When and where was it recorded?

KC: I wanted to make the album more analogue in its sound compared to earlier albums. Therefore I recorded the guitars from a real amp, and I used more real percussion and only real synths this time.
I wanted to make the album tight and powerful so I skipped interludes and the quiet passages on this album. I always try to express my feelings, but I manipulate them slightly sometimes. They mostly come out through moods like those moods are what I feel or find interesting, but I’m becoming more and more aware of the lyrical part as well.
I guess I wanted to create a modern and cool sounding psychedelic party dream pop album. I did the whole thing in my little room at the time.

COTW: Will you be touring the new record? Have you performed live before? What is your usual live setup? How do you know when you’ve had a good gig?

KC: I have not played live with this solo project yet, but I have a band now and we are playing shows from March this year. After a good gig I feel a nice rush, like the same feeling you get after riding a rollercoaster 🙂

COTW: What are you listening to or reading at the moment?

KC: I’m actually not really listening to anything new at the moment. I check things out everyday almost, but when I’m recording a lot I really need the quiet breaks.

COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?

KC: Well I have a regular job at the moment, so I don’t have time to be as prolific as before at this very moment, but I’m writing a follow up to ‘This Time It’s Our High’ and I’m doing a follow up to my experimental series of albums named ‘The Oceanic Voyage’. The first one of those coming out 31/1/11 on Darla records as a digital album for now. Besides writing and producing I have a band so I hope we get a lot of cool gigs in the future.


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