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Kevin Drew

BORDER KEVIN DREW 30x40 by Norman WongKevin Drew could lay claim to a large portion of the success of the Canadian music scene. His band, Broken Social Scene, gave birth to Feist, Stars and Metric and his record label, Arts & Crafts, nurtures even more. CHRIS HAVERCROFT speaks to the Drew about stepping out from the safety and comfort of Broken Social Scene for his latest offering, Darlings.

He is known as the brains trust behind the immeasurably successful Broken Social Scene, but Kevin Drew has dabbled in albums under his own name in the past.

In 2007 he made the obtuse Spirit If… but it is Darlings that is the first fully fledged Kevin Drew record that is a truly ‘solo’ endeavour. You could be excused for wondering why Drew chose now to make another record outside of Broken Social Scene.

“If you’re not judged by your own name you are not a man,” Drew offers lightly. “Darlings is all about being human. It is my take and my view on everything that I think about intimacy, passion, relationships, society, communication and connection. That is what I write about. And, I write about masturbation and hope. I know what I do and I just hope that people enjoy it and become attracted to it, or seduced by it. That’s all that I try to do.”

Drew is a self-confessed drummer fanatic something he attributes to the fact that Keith Moon died on his second birthday. The staple of Broken Social Scene is the propulsive drumming of Justin Peroff, but for Darlings there is a more sparse and acoustic-based approach to the songs that differentiates it from anything that Drew has done before.

“For me, I just really wanted to break free from those guys (Broken Social Scene) because we had spent so long together. We were in a business together, we were in a band together and we were in a family together and quite frankly I just wanted to get away from that for a while. There were no personal problems at all and there are no stories of hardship, but I just wanted to take my journals and not represent a huge amount of people.

“You have to understand that I am Broken Social Scene. The name is out there and every time someone puts out a record there are 27 people that can share that title, but to me I very much feel like it is my heart and my lungs and everything I wrote about. It is where I put my all of my energy and all of my life into and I don’t want to be a side project of my own heart.”

“I do have to honour the fact that because of all those people (from Broken Social Scene) it is why I am here today. I cannot look around at something beautiful and have a child temper tantrum about it. It is difficult at the same time to try to cut through to people and say that please, if you are a Broken Social Scene fan, come over in my direction when there are 30 other records going around that say it contains members of Broken Social Scene. I remember people were saying that we were becoming more watered down because of that aspect, but I ask how can you water down the human soul. These are people that are making records and this band was a collective.”

When writing and recording Darlings, Drew only had to consider his own voice and not those of the collective. It made the record considerably easier to construct and has a cohesive feel to it. Drew felt that he had nothing to lose in the making of Darlings, which made it a freeing experience, but some realities have become apparent since its release.

“I have been beat up in the last couple of months due to how I thought it was going to be received and what I thought was going to happen. I am getting festivals that are offering me not even a quarter of what they had offered Broken Social Scene. People that I have done business with before are now offering me what would basically cover my lunch for the kind of operation that I am trying to put together here and you very quickly find your worth.

“That is really hard and it’s taxing and quite frankly it makes me angry because I find myself starting at the bottom again. Not right at the bottom as I know that my bottom is some other person’s tops. I understand that it is all perspective and I am not a complainer about that, but for me it does come down to respect and in this music industry there is not much of that. If you are on top, you’re on top and if you aren’t you are fighting to find dollars. That is all you are doing is trying to find dollars to keep your dream alive. When you run a record label you see many people’s dreams being crushed all the time.”

One of the topics covered on Darlings is Drew’s lament at what he considers the death of communication as technology changes the way that people interact. Most of the communication that Drew sees on the internet he would consider to be cold and pretty much digital fluff. He is a firm believer that if you are going to have an opinion you should have it with your eyes open and you should have it in a public forum.

“If you are standing there with it you need to own it,” says Drew of opinions. “I don’t find much courage in this ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ society. I think we are judged enough and I don’t think that human beings need to start judging sentences let alone each other. There is something that closes down the human heart when you don’t know how to ask someone how their day was because you have already read about it. You need that interaction and you need the words to hit your ears.

“You need to be able to run into someone in the street and not know what is going on with them and sit there and chat with them and find out what is going on with them.”

Pic: Norman Wong